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Ambition Without a Cause in Macbeth Essay


Throughout the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are unable to resist their desire for power. Macbeth was at first reasonable enough to keep his ambition in check, however it eventually became too strong for Macbeth and therefore over powered him. . At that point we see no serious questioning of the motives of the three witches when they told their misleading predictions. Macbeth even went as far as to ask for their advice a second time, which would ultimately lead to his downfall. The decision to kill Duncan also signified the last serious attempt at moral examination on the part of Macbeth. From the early point in the play where he kills Duncan, Macbeth becomes an emotional wreck whose only goal is to turn everyones suspicion away from him. Throughout the novel we see that Macbeth's ambition overthrows any moral idea of reason and eventually leads to his downfall.

From the very beginning Macbeth faces the dark temptations of gaining power. In act one Macbeth has yet to lose all sense of morals and is still willing to question the motives of the three witches. He is motivated by the witches to pursue killing Duncan, but is still willing to question his temptations. It is apparent when he is discussing his meeting with the witches with Banquo, Ross, and Angus that his thoughts about killing the king are making him overanxious and troubled.

Two truths are told

As happy prologues to the swelling act

Of the imperial theme. I thank you, gentlemen. -

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 that suggestion,

Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair

And make my seated heart knock at my ribs. (I, iii, 126-135)

In this soliloquy, Macbeth weighs the moral implications of the witches predictions and comes to the conclusion that although the thought of killing Duncan is a horrid image; doing so would be for a worthy cause. The witches know Macbeths tragic flaw, for when he is given the irresistible temptation to become King, he will choose to commit murder even though he could simply discard their words. Since Macbeth thinks that killing Duncan is for a worthy cause, he is blocking out the problematic outcome that will develop in the aftermath of his actions. Macbeth knows that he should be the one to protect the king from murder, not kill Duncan himself. This attempt at moral evaluation by Macbeth is his last because of Lady Macbeths scrutiny of Macbeths manhood.

Prior to Macbeth deciding weather or not he should follow through on his desires, Lady Macbeth was already overtaken by her ambition. Upon unsexing herself, Lady Macbeth had no fear of the implications of killing Duncan, thus demeaning Macbeth in this excerpt.

What beast was t then

That made you break this enterprise to me?

When you durst do it, then you were a man;

And to be more than what you were, you would

Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place

Did then adhere, and yet you would make both.

They have made themselves, and that their fitness now

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