Destructive Ambition in Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

Destructive Ambition in Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

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Destructive Ambition in Macbeth

    William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth presents the fizzled drive of an ambitious husband and wife. This essay is the story of their destructive ambition.


Fanny Kemble in "Lady Macbeth" refers to the ambition of Lady Macbeth:


 [. . .] to have seen Banquo's ghost at the banqueting table ... and persisted in her fierce mocking of her husband's terror would have been impossible to human nature. The hypothesis makes Lady Macbeth a monster, and there is no such thing in all Shakespeare's plays. That she is godless, and ruthless in the pursuit of the objects of her ambition, does not make her such. (118)


In "Memoranda: Remarks on the Character of Lady Macbeth," Sarah Siddons mentions the ambition of Lady Macbeth and its effect:


[Re "I have given suck" (1.7.54ff.)] Even here, horrific as she is, she shews herself made by ambition, but not by nature, a perfectly savage creature. The very use of such a tender allusion in the midst of her dreadful language, persuades one unequivocally that she has really felt the maternal yearnings of a mother towards her babe, and that she considered this action the most enormous that ever required the strength of human nerves for its perpetration. Her language to Macbeth is the most potently eloquent that guilt could use.  (56)


Clark and Wright in their Introduction to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare interpret the main theme of the play as intertwining with evil and ambition:


While in Hamlet and others of Shakespeare's plays we feel that Shakespeare refined upon and brooded over his thoughts, Macbeth seems as if struck out at a heat and imagined from first to last with rapidity and power, a...

... middle of paper ...

...of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.


Johnson, Samuel. The Plays of Shakespeare. N.p.: n.p.. 1765. Rpt in Shakespearean Tragedy. Bratchell, D. F. New York, NY: Routledge, 1990.


Kemble, Fanny. "Lady Macbeth." Macmillan's Magazine, 17 (February 1868), p. 354-61. Rpt. in Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.


Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth., no lin.


Siddons, Sarah. "Memoranda: Remarks on the Character of Lady Macbeth." The Life of Mrs. Siddons. Thomas Campbell. London: Effingham Wilson, 1834. Rpt. in Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.


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