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Blind Ambition In Macbeth Essay Topic

Blind Ambition In Macbeth Essay

Among the greatest gifts that the renaissance produced was the eloquent and incredible Shakespearean plays. Written mostly in the 1590s these plays have been performed and admired countless times; entertaining mass audiences by providing interesting tales that explore the depth of human insights and the different universal themes. Among the many Shakespearean plays Macbeth, written in 1606, stands out with its short composition but multiple themes. This tragedy narrates the tale of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s quest to grasp ultimate power by ignoring their morals and succumbing to their dark desires, which ultimately leads to their downfall. This tragic play portrays the desires, needs, and temptations that accompany ambition in men and women. However the ambition in Macbeth is blind, it does not abide to the morals, but it allows space for dark actions as means necessary for accomplishment. Blind ambition serves as the main driving force that drives Macbeth to subdue to his dark desires, defy his noble behavior, and ultimately his downfall.

Macbeth’s blind ambition leads him to surrender to his dark desires that taunt him throughout the play. Macbeth is frequently tempted to result to the wrongful methods that seem to roam inside of him. In the beginning however Macbeth tends to ignore these desires and depends on chance. He declares “if chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir” (Shakespeare, act 1, scene 3, 143-144). This declaration by Macbeth shows his initial stand, which is reliant on fate and sin free. Yet as Macbeth’s character develops throughout the play, he moves farther from his dependence on chance and closer to his darker desires. Eventually his blind ambition to become king overpowers him and leads him to result to his dark desires. Macbeth states:
The prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’erlap
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires… (Shakespeare, Act 1, scene 4, 49-51).
In this quote Macbeth admits the dark desires he possesses, and reveals his intentions to overcome the king’s son after he plans to kill King Duncan himself. As a result of his powerful blind ambition, Macbeth at this point of the play succumbs to his dark desires and takes the route to breaking his noble behavior.
Macbeth is initially portrayed as a noble character with noble origins, but eventually as a result of his blind ambition he breaks his noble behavior. King Duncan refers to Macbeth at the beginning of the play as “valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman” (Shakespeare, act 1, scene 2, 24). This statement by King Duncan as a result of Macbeth’s war accomplishments proves the nobility that Macbeth possessed. Although Macbeth is portrayed as a noble character at the beginning of the play as his blind ambition takes over he ultimately breaks his noble behavior. He first kills King Duncan, a...

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Blind Ambition in Macbeth

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Throughout the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, the reasoning of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is completely subverted and undermined by their insatiable ambition. Macbeth was at first reasonable enough to keep his ambition in check, however it eventually became to strong for even Macbeth and therefor over powered him. To the contrary, Lady Macbeth was overcome by her ambition from the very beginning. Reasoning was abandoned after the decision to kill Duncan was made.

At that point we see no serious questioning of the motives of the three witches when they told their cunning and misleading predictions. Macbeth even went as far as to ask for their advise a second time – this second time would of course lead to his downfall. The decision to kill Duncan also signified the last serious attempt at moral contemplation on the part of Macbeth. Throughout the novel we see that the Macbeth’s ambition completely subverted their reasoning abilities and eventually lead to their downfall.

Macbeth, whom initially was a very reasonable and moral man, could not hold off the lure of ambition. This idea is stated in the following passage: “One of the most significant reasons for the enduring critical interest in Macbeth’s character is that he represents humankind’s universal propensity to temptation and sin. Macbeth’s excessive ambition motivates him to murder Duncan, and once the evil act is accomplished, he sets into motion a series of sinister events that ultimately lead to his downfall. ” (Scott; 236).

Macbeth is told by three witches, in a seemingly random and isolated area, that he will become Thank of Cawdor and eventually king. Only before his ambition overpowers his reasoning does he question their motives. One place this questioning takes place is in the following passage: “- Two Truths are told, As happy Prologues to the swelling Act Of the Imperial Theme. – I thank you, Gentlemen. – This supernatural Soliciting Cannot be Ill, cannot be good. If Ill, Why hath it given me Earnest of Success, Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor.

If Good, why do I yield to tat Suggestion Whose Horrid Image doth unfix my Heir And make my seated Heart knock at my Ribs Against the use of Nature? ” (Shakespeare; I, iii, 125-135) Even as he questions their motives, he does not come to the logical assumption that these three evildoers are in fact pushing him down a path filled with evil and despair. He says that their visit “cannot be ill, cannot be good” and goes on to explain why it cannot be either of these two things. At least we see here that his ambition has not completely overtaken him.

Not only does Macbeth at first question the motives of the witches, he also eventually questions the moral implications of killing Duncan. In the excerpt: “He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against The deep damnation of his taking-off. (Shakespeare; I, vii, 12-16) We see Macbeth present an argument against killing his beloved king. We see that his ambition is present because he does seem to be ready to refute the title of King and in fact accepts the title of Thane of Cawdor. The expert: “- If Chance will have me King. Why/ Chance may crown me. (Shakespeare; I, iii, 141-142)” is an excellent example of Macbeth’s ambition. However his ambition is not overbearing, because he still considers the meaning of the supernatural soliciting instead of just accepting its seemingly optimistic prophesies.

His ambition does not become overbearing until it is fueled by Lady Macbeth’s own ambition. Macbeth’s ambition is in sharp contrast to Banquo. Banquo comes across as much more hesitant to accept the witches prophesy. This contrast was created for a specific reason – to highlight Macbeth’s tragic flaw. “One critical perspective views Banquo’s function as essentially symbolic: he is portrayed as a man who, like Macbeth, has the capacity for both God’s grace and sin; but unlike the protagonist, he puts little stock in the Weird Sisters, prophecies and does not succumb to their temptations.

Banquo’s reluctance to dwell on the witchs’ predictions therefore underscores, by contrast, the nature of Macbeth’s descent into evil. ” (Scott; 238) Banquo does not have the same overbearing ambition as Macbeth and therefor is able to reason with the situation. Banquo’s logic is most prevalently seen in the following quote: “That trusted home Might yet enkindle you unto the Crown Besides the Thane of Cawdor, But ’tis Strange: And oftentimes, to win us to our Harm. The Instruments of Darkness tell us Truths, Win us with honest Trifles, to betray’s In deepest Consequence Cousins, a Word, I pray you. ” (Shakespeare; I, iii, 118-124) Banquo speaks this quote immediately after Macbeth is told that he will be the new Thane of Cawdor. It is a stark warning that shows evidence of logical deduction and reasonable thinking on the part of Banquo. Had he been a far more ambitious man, he may have worried about his own prophecy – about the future glory of his children and their children. Not only was Macbeth overtaken by his ambition, Lady Macbeth was also overtaken. Unlike Macbeth, however, Lady Macbeth was overtaken by her ambition immediately.

As she read the letter sent to her by Macbeth, which spoke of the new title and the witches prophecies she immediately decided that they must do whatever is necessary to become King and Queen. Again we see that ambition subverts reasoning. She does not even question the motives of these three evil sisters or the moral ramifications of killing Duncan like Macbeth does. Instead she almost immediately decides that Duncan has to be dealt with. This break down in reasoning was very damaging to both Macbeth and his wife. Here we see what an adverse affect it had on Lady Macbeth. As husband and wife grow apart in their own torments, Lady Macbeth discovers what it is to invite an ‘unsexing’ which amounts to demonic possession: the slight human compunction which prevents her murdering Duncan grows into a curse upon her unwomaned body, and she finds that ‘a little water’ will not clear her of this deed” (Blakemore; 1310) In conclusion, throughout the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, the reasoning of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is completely subverted and undermined by their insatiable ambition.

Macbeth was at first reasonable enough to keep his ambition in check, however it eventually became to strong for even Macbeth and over powered him. To the contrary, Lady Macbeth was overcome by her ambition from the very beginning. Reasoning was abandoned after the decision to kill Duncan was made. At that point we see no serious questioning of the motives of the three witches when they told their cunning and misleading predictions. Macbeth even went as far as to ask for their advise a second time – this second time would of course lead to his downfall.

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The decision to kill Duncan also signified the last serious attempt at moral contemplation on the part of Macbeth. Throughout the novel we see that the Macbeth’s ambition completely subverted their reasoning abilities and eventually lead to their downfall. Bibliography 1. Blakemore Evans, G. (Editor). The Riverside Shakespeare. 1974. Houghton Miffin Company. Boston, Massatsus. 2. Scott, Mark W. (Editor). Shakespeare for Students. 1992. Gale Research Inc. Detroit, Michigan. 3. Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. 1990. Doubleday Book and Music Clubs, Inc. Great Britain

Author: Kimber Trivett

in Macbeth

Blind Ambition in Macbeth

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