Macbeth Ambition Essay

Theme that the essay will discuss The corrupting power of unchecked ambition
Character that the essay will discuss Macbeth’s overwhelming ambition that corrupts him and turns him from a loyal warrior to a tyrannical ruler.
Conflict that the essay will discuss Macbeth’s internal conflict throughout the play. Morals, loyalty, respect for himself and the King vs. ambition.
Introduction Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ is a dramatic play in which the main character, ‘Macbeth, is told by a group of witches that he will be King of Scotland. After internal conflict, he pursues this prophecy by killing King Duncan and beginning his tyrannical rule of Scotland. (SUMMARY)Shakespeare shows – through TECHNIQUES such as CHARACTERISATION, SYMBOLISM and FORESHADOWING – how overwhelming ambition has a corrosive effect on a good character (RELATE TO QUESTION).
KP1 – Macbeth is initially characterised as a noble & good character.
KP1 Q1″For brave Macbeth – well deserves that name” Initially, at the start of the play,Macbeth is characterised as a loyal and noble warrior – as well as a good man who understands he is duty bound to King Duncan.This is shown through the Captain’s words in Act 1 Scene 2, when he is talking with Duncan after a successful battle: (POINT)Shakespeare shows that Macbeth is very well respected among the nobles because of his courage in battles. This tells the audience that Macbeth is loyal to King Duncan as he fights for him in battle. Macbeth shows that he is a good and noble man.(ANALYSIS)The author strongly characterises Macbeth as a very good character to show how much of an effect ambition has on Macbeth later on in the play (RESPONSE)
KP1 Q2″He’s here in double trust:” Shakespeare also shows how Macbeth has a moral compass and is aware that the murder of Duncan would be wrong through his use of soliloquy, In Act 1 Scene 7, when Macbeth thinks about the murder of Duncan: (POINT)Shakespeare characterises Macbeth as dedicated to Duncan and highly reluctant to kill him. He knows that:Duncan is a humble man who is his guest and Macbeth his subject.He is duty bound to serve him.He could lose his reputation and new found respect as the Thane of Cawdor.Killing Duncan would be an act of cowardice. (ANALYSIS)Although he is such a loyal man, it is clear that his ambition is affecting him. The fact that he agreed to the murder, and is now seriously considering it, shows that his ambition allows him to be manipulated into being a power-hungry murderer and is corrupting his overall character as a good and loyal man. (RESPONSE)
KP2 – Shakespeare illustrates that Macbeth is an ambitious character and that his ambition is responsible for corrupting his character.
KP2 Q1″but onlyVaulting ambition which o’erleaps itselfAnd falls on th’other” As the play progresses, we see Macbeth’s ambition take over his decision making and moral judgement. This is shown during Macbeth’s monologue when he says: (POINT)Shakespeare makes it clear that Macbeth is aware of his unchecked ambition through use of metaphor. Macbeth compares his ambition to a horse that tries to jump too high over a fence and falls on the other side. (ANALYSIS)This shows that even though Macbeth recognises that his ambition could be his demise, it is also driving him forward and making him prepared to take dangerous risks. This foreshadows Macbeth’s fate at the end of the play, where his ambitions costs him his mental state, his family, his friends and his life. The author also shows how Macbeth’s ambition allows him to be corrupted into making decisions that a noble and loyal kinsman would not make. (RESPONSE)
KP2 Q2″When you durs’t do it, then you were a manAnd to be more than what you were, you wouldbe so much more than a man.” In the same scene, when he tells Lady Macbeth that he has decided to not kill the King, Lady Macbeth attempts to take advantage of this ambition by saying: (POINT)LM tries to manipulate Macbeth into the murder. Although she questions his courage, she knows that alone would not break Macbeth’s loyalty to King Duncan; Lady Macbeth sees a weakness in Macbeth in his ambitions. By suggesting that he could be more than a man, Lady Macbeth manages to change Macbeth’s mind and convinces him to commit murder on his superior. (ANALYSIS)This shows that Macbeth is losing control of his ambition as it controls key decisions that he has to make. (RESPONSE)
KP3 – Macbeth’s ambition and consequent actions ultimately lead to the deterioration of his mental state and relationship. It ultimately destroys him.
KP3 Q1″Is this a dagger I see before me, The handle toward my hand?” Macbeth sees a dagger that is covered in blood. The blood symbolises Macbeth’s guilt about what he is about to do (kill Duncan). This guilt combined with his contrasting ambition causes him to hallucinate. This shows the deterioration of his mental state as his ambition overpowers his loyalty and guilt. He realises that to go further he will have to take action and kill Duncan. He realises the evils of the dagger but is beckoned to it; his ambition is taking control.
KP3 Q2″Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee.Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold.” Later in the play, Macbeth shows evidence of an even worse mental state during Act 3 Scene 4, he says: (POINT)Macbeth reveals to everyone at his royal banquet that he commits the murder. Even though he went through awful steps to hide his guilt (e.g. killing Banquo and slandering the King’s sons) his mental state causes him to reveal himself to all his kinsmen. This shows how Macbeth’s ambition finally begins to break him and begins to cause his downfall.
KP3 Q3″Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,And then is heard no more.” Near the end of the play, following the death of his wife, Macbeth becomes aware of the futility of life. He gives a speech to reveal his deepest thoughts: (POINT)Metaphor is used to compare life to a vibrant and successful actor that enjoys his time on the stage but ultimately falls silent. This is significant because it shows Macbeth’s regret at following through on his ambition: everything he had is now gone and now it was all for nothing. He is only now aware when it is too late.
Conclusion ‘Macbeth’ shows how a characteristic such as ambition has a huge effect on the decision making of one person that causes serious effects. It is made clear by Shakespeare that overwhelming ambition can cause harmful effects to someone and out of control it will be their demise. Macbeth was a good and noble warrior before his unchecked ambition caused the deterioration of his mental state and relationship and ultimately caused his demise.

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