Ambition is described by Merriam-Webster as “something that a person hopes to do or achieve,” and as “a particular goal or aim.” In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, you could say that ambition is what drives the story and what causes a series of events to occur that could lead to that ambition being found. The goal in the play is for Macbeth to become king, but whose ambition is more at play, Macbeth’s or his wife’s?
Lady Macbeth senses her husband’s drive to become the king, which is why she orchestrates the murder of Duncan, the current king, so that Macbeth can take the throne and rule. Despite his lust for the throne, Macbeth doesn’t possess enough drive to do what needs to be done to attain the title. That’s why Lady Macbeth takes over and helps carry out the murder of Duncan as a way to help her husband achieve his ultimate goal.
While Lady Macbeth doesn’t murder Duncan entirely on her own, her ambition to see him dead and Macbeth take over the crown, causes her to screw up her courage and unleash everything evil inside her so that she can get the job done. You could say that without Lady Macbeth, the murder would never have taken place and Macbeth would never have gotten him out of the way.
Macbeth has the ambition and the drive to be the king, but unlike his wife, he doesn’t possess the same level of motivation because he doesn’t want to kill Duncan to get the throne. However, Lady Macbeth’s ambition overrides his as she convinces him to murder the current king and get him off the throne and out of the way of his own rule.
Once Lady Macbeth begins cajoling Macbeth into carrying out the murder, his ambition to please his wife and preserve his manhood takes over and he agrees to do the dirty deed. When Lady Macbeth criticizes her husband and calls him less of a man and accuses him of not loving her, his ambition rockets upward and he wants to prove that he isn’t any of the horrible things that Lady Macbeth is accusing him of being.
Where does the ambition come from in the story? It’s no secret that both Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth want Duncan out of the way, but where did the idea come from? The witches that Macbeth makes contact with at the beginning of the story influence his ultimate desire to take over the throne as the new king. Before Macbeth met with the three witches, it’s questionable as to whether he really considered being the king at all. The influence of the witches may have introduced the idea into Macbeth’s psyche and give him the ambition to take over the kingship.
You would think that the overarching ambition was getting the throne by getting rid of Duncan. While that does drive Macbeth to behave the way he does and carry out the murder plot devised by his wife, it’s not the biggest reason he does it. Instead of being ambitious for the crown, Macbeth becomes even more ambitious to prove his wife wrong and show her that he does love her, that he is a man and that he can murder Duncan and take over the throne. That smaller ambition has bigger ramifications in the overall story than does the lust for the kingship.
In the end, the murder of Duncan comes from three sources. One is Macbeth’s ambition, one is Lady Macbeth’s influence and her secondary ambition, and the third is the witches and their prophesy that started Macbeth thinking about being the king. Could there be a story without ambition? Not likely.
Essay on Ambition in Shakespeare's Macbeth
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In Macbeth ambition plays a huge role in character devolvement. Ambition affects four of the major characters. The characters are Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Malcom, and Banquo. The sisters are the source of Ambition. It is as if they control ambition. The ambition the sisters’ control is negative ambition. Ambition is, wanting to have more then you have and wanting it now. Macbeth’s ambition is powered by the sisters. Through the sisters he learns that he is to be king, he does not know how he is going to become king however. Ambition is the key to his downfall. Before he had this ambition he said that he would never have dreamed of killing the king to become king. The ambition drove him to kill the king, so that he could become then king.…show more content…
He believes that he is seeing banquo. Lady Macbeth is more power hungry and ambitious then Macbeth is. She, through ambition she gives the finial push to Macbeth to kill Duncan the king of Scotland. Her power however, is not driven by the sisters, hers is greed. She wants to be Queen, she wants the power of being Queen. Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeths ambition is tragic flaw. Her ambition drives her to her to go crazy which ultimately drives her to her death. There is an instance where she is sleep walking, eyes open. She goes to her vanity and sits down, she looks at her hands a sees blood. Then she sticks her hand in the water bowl and attempts to wash them. When she pulls them back out the blood did not wash away. Only she can see the blood her maid and doctor see this happening and they just think that she is going crazy. This is only the beginning of her insaneness. Just before her death she vilely reads a letter that Macbeth sent to her, telling her that he was to be King some how. It is her guilt that kills her.
Banquo’s ambition is unlike Macbeths and Lady Macbeths, his ambition does not drive him to kill. His ambition is he wants his son to become king, and he wants his son’s son to become king and so on. He does not quite know how to make his ambition successful but he knows that it is not worth killing for. Macbeth becomes jealous of Banquo’s ambition and Macbeths ambition drives him tell people to kill Banquo. Malcolm is Duncan’s son