Essay on Ambition as the Root of Macbeth's Downfall

Essay on Ambition as the Root of Macbeth's Downfall

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Ambition as the Root of Macbeth's Downfall

Ambition plays the largest part in Macbeth's downfall. However,
without the interference of the witches his ambition would not have
changed. The witches increase his ambition drastically by the thought
of kingship. Lady Macbeth sees the potential for his ambition to be
great, but knows he will do nothing with it, so she plans it all for
him; all he has to do is stab Duncan.

The three witches are introduced at the beginning of the play; they
give Macbeth three prophecies, that he will be Thane of Cawdor, Thane
of Glamis and King. The witches can foretell the future; they add
temptation and influence Macbeth but they cannot control his destiny.
The witches themselves have no particular goal to reach. When it comes
to Macbeth they are just having fun. As Hecate argues, all they
achieve is:

'How did you dare/ To trade and traffic with Macbeth/ In riddles and
affairs of death'

The language used here by Hecate is dark and unpleasant, and the way 'death'
is used, implies that the witches could have known that their
interference would lead to the death of characters.

The witches are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas
to Macbeth; they are not responsible for his actions throughout the
play. Yet their meddling inevitably causes a change within Macbeth.
This is the growth of his ambition from his previous state. From being
a good and honest man, Macbeth transforms into a conniving plotter
against the King:

'The Prince of Cumberland: that is a step/On which I must fall down.
Or else o'erleap,/For in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires/Let not
light see my black a...

... middle of paper ...

...ow that Macbeth has heard this, he believes that he
must kill Macduff, however he learns that Macduff has fled to England,
so he decides to kill Macduff's family. Macbeth is told he cannot be
killed by any man born of woman. This gives him the confidence that no
matter what the English do he will not be defeated. In addition he is
told that he will not be defeated until the trees of Birnam Wood move
towards his castle. He has put all his faith in these prophecies
because he believes what the witches have said must be true because of
the outcome of the first prediction.

In conclusion, Macbeth has many forces acting upon him, the Witches,
Lady Macbeth, paranoia and ambition. However things would not have got
so out of control if the others factors had not contributed, so
ambition is the main root of Macbeth's downfall.

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