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Unchecked Ambition in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” Essay

The unchecked ambition of Macbeth is what drives the story of this Shakespearean tragedy. It’s also unchecked ambition that has people reading this essay. I hope to be able to convince you to read on about unchecked ambition in the play by showing how it affects both the characters and events, as well as its relevance to today’s society.

Essay 1

Taking decisions beyond one’s limits has been a problem for humanity since the beginning. In his novel “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Alexandre Dumas claims that “…virtues are good, but some virtues may become crimes if taken to an extreme” (Meyer 124). The phrase “to take things too far” means that humans are susceptible to being corrupted by ambition.

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Unchecked ambition, according to Stuntz (443), refers to an excessive, extreme or uncontrollable desire for success, power, or money. It’s the need or yearning for more than what someone else has. According to Mahatma Gandhi, there are two types of power: fear-based and love-based (Low and Cheng 244). The latter is transient and ineffective whereas the former is permanent and effective (Cohn 51).

Humans become overbearing because they have power based on the fear of being punished. This appears to be Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” main theme. Macbeth, a war hero, grows authority based on the dread of punishment, which leads to unchecked ambition. In people’s minds like Duncan’s, Macbeth appears brave and dedicated because of his desire for victory; however, his quest for greater political influence and triumph drives him toward kingdom destruction.

Macbeth is a Scottish soldier in the royal army who has achieved the rank of general in the military. He obtains the title of a general in the military, but he is by nature not inclined to commit atrocities against people. In his line of work, he appears to be devoted. However, he has an overwhelming desire to grow and improve his abilities and success.

It is apparent that Macbeth’s desires for greater accomplishments are not a natural part of his personality. The three witches, who appear and provide him the prophecy of becoming a king one day, instill dread in him. After seeing that most of the things foretold by the three witches came true, he develops a fear of failing to keep the prediction.

He is also terrified that he will fail to live up to the witches’ predictions. At this point, it becomes obvious that while the society as a whole contains both good and evil people, the power of the bad individuals has eroded people’s moral standards (Cohn 56). As a result, the three witches instill dread in Macbeth, precipitating him into action against his principles. He builds authority on fear, which leads to unbridled ambition.

Second, Macbeth’s wife aids her husband’s growth of power based on fear. She understands that if Macbeth does not fulfill the witches’ prophecy, he will be punished. Also, she understands that as king, it would be difficult for Macbeth to wait until society crowns him. As a result, she exploits her husband’s state of anxiety to persuade him to take action against his principles.

Macbeth’s desire to achieve the predicted status is caused by his anxiety of being judged. His fear should be interpreted in light of its origins. It is evident that despite being a dedicated, brave, and daring soldier, Macbeth has a major vulnerability – he is easily persuaded. When he met the three witches on his return from battle after Banquo’s death, for example, he was accompanied by Banquo. Both men are given prophecies.

The witches also hail him as the thane of Glamis and “Cawdor,” while he was not the Cawdor at the time. Banquo’s children will be future kings, according to the three witches. While Banquo is not as convinced by these prophecies, Macbeth appears to trust every word of the witches’ world.

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“Witches always tell half-truths,” Banquo warns him. Banquo appears to be more upright than Macbeth. He does not exhibit fear and seems to be reasonable. Despite the fact that the witches’ prediction that Macbeth would become “the Cawdor” was fulfilled in a matter of minutes after meeting them, Macbeth and Banquo have different opinions about the witches.

After Macbeth receives the promotion message from King Duncan, Banquo appears hesitant to accept the witches’ warning. He explains to Macbeth that evil beings will always tell half-truths in order to “entice humans.” Macbeth’s good character and values are, on the other hand, under threat from the witches’ malevolence.

Macbeth dismisses Banquo’s warning and embarks on a long journey as an apprehensive character. The audience is introduced to Macbeth’s evolving personality near the end of Act 1 scene 3. He turns down Banquo, Ross, and Angus’ company in favor of speaking to himself. The audience sees Macbeth question whether his reign will last or if it will simply come to an end. It is now clear that by the machinations of the three witches, Macbeth’s good morals and character are on their way toward destruction.

The audience is introduced to the king’s relationship with his generals, particularly Macbeth, in act 4, scene 1. The connection between the two appears to be beneficial and reasonably strong. The king decides to have dinner at Macbeth’s home, for example. During the dinner scenes and conversations, it becomes apparent that Macbeth has nearly forgotten the witches’ warnings. He is delighted when King Duncan informs them of his plan to make his son Malcolm king after his death, for example.

The audience is introduced to Macbeth’s increasing anxiety and the growing desire to be king, in Act 1, scenes 1 to 4. After the Duncan states that he wishes for Malcolms coronation as king, Macbeth understands that he has no chance of becoming king. His will to achieve his objectives is strong. It appears that loyalty to the crown and country come second place when it comes to wanting to be king.

It is possible to misinterpret the significance of this character in Shakespeare’s play. While having a good relationship with the king and his family, Macbeth understands that his ambition to be king will not be achieved because Malcolm stands in his path. These scenes are used by Shakespeare to illustrate the resurgence of the witches’ power over Macbeth and their advancement from fear into a desire to prevent it by taking a step (285).

During the conflict, when Macduff protests that he has been unjustly banished, Macbeth becomes more determined to fulfill his ambition. In order to achieve the prophecy, he decides that force must be used to remove King Duncan from his throne and prevent Malcolm from taking the crown. Despite being a straight-laced soldier, Macbeth allows his desires to steer him in the wrong direction.

The audience is introduced to the problem that Macbeth faces. Macbeth’s reaction to the prophecy appears to be a major point of conflict. He’s confused and bewildered. There are only two alternatives for him.

The first choice is to deny the witches’ prophecy and remain loyal to the king. However, doing so would have incurred divine or malevolent wrath. Macbeth’s second alternative is to commit murder in order to please the gods and their emissaries. Taking this path, on the other hand, will result in moral corruption and sin for him.

Nonetheless, the most important influence on Macbeth’s decision is his strong desire to become king. He has already embraced the idea that he will be king soon. He begins contemplating how he will rule as a powerful and successful king. The ambition is too powerful for Macbeth’s good morals to overcome (Ciobanu 37). As a result, he decides to kill the king and take power.

Macbeth’s character is not the only one to suffer from uncontrolled ambition. His spouse is an important element of his life. When Macbeth tells her about the witches’ message, she immediately shows a strong desire to be queen. She appears to be a horrible person. Some critics believe that Shakespeare used Lady Macbeth and the three witches as an example for how women are easily manipulated by evil spirits on earth (Cohn 54).

Lady Macbeth’s ambition to be the next queen causes her to lose sight of their good relationship with the king’s family. She also overlooks how King Duncan has seen Macbeth and his family, as well as how he has regarded them. She also fails to consider how the other soldiers would react if Macbeth killed the king (Ramsey 288).

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Lady Macbeth’s main desire is to be the queen, regardless of the consequences of her husband’s actions. In fact, unlike Macbeth, she does not have a choice because she appears to have no other option. Her only alternative is to persuade Macbeth that murdering Duncan is the only way to become king.

The ambition to become the king is still too strong, and it outweighs Macbeth’s discomfort in a dream. Shakespeare employs this dream to demonstrate the possible results of Macbeth’s actions. In a vision, Macbeth sees a blood-stained dagger. It is an indication that murdering the king will not be the end of the bloodshed (Cohn 58). Despite this warning, Macbeth disregarded it because his wife’s desire to be queen appears to be greater than his desires.

A consequence of other sins will follow as a result of the uncontrolled ambition to commit an evil act, as a person tries to justify the initial action. Macbeth, in this instance, decides to murder others in order to legitimize his actions of murdering the king. When Macbeth kills King Duncan in the morning, he understands that the only way to cover up his crime is to kill any other person who may have seen it. As a result, he murders King Duncan’s two chamberlains because they are seen as the final roadblocks keeping him from becoming king.

Macbeth’s ambition to remain King Macbeth for all time compels him to commit greater atrocities. The influence of the witches can be seen throughout the play. He recalled that the witches had said Banquo’s grandsons and male descendants would be future kings. As a result, he determined to murder his friend Banquo. This is another indication of Macbeth’s increasing ambitions.

In addition, Macbeth establishes a new aim- the ambition to maintain his rule permanently. He resolves to seek advice from witches and other malevolent spirits in order to do so. Macbeth’s actions result in a succession of murders as he kills anybody who might be king in the future.

Macbeth’s good reputation has been destroyed by his quest for more than what he had. Macbeth’s actions back up Alexandre Dumas’ claim that “Virtues are good, but certain virtues might become crimes if taken to an extreme” (Meyer 124). As a result, Macbeth’s justification of war is the desire for victory, which leads people such as Duncan to believe he is a brave and dedicated solider in his eyes, but his thirst for greater political authority and achievement drives him to the ruin of the kingdom.

Essay 2

The Dangers of Unchecked Ambitions Everyone is endowed with the potential for great evil. The prospect of freedom and no regulations changes our character, causing us to disregard values and virtues in order to focus on ourselves. Macbeth, a William Shakespeare play, depicts unchecked ambitions as they animate bad elements within characters, allowing them to be compared and contrasted throughout the action. Lady Macbeth was initially shown as a confident yet ruthless individual who showed little regard for others’ well-being at the start of the play.

Meanwhile, Macbeth, the new Thane of Cawdor, is able to keep his loyalty to King Duncan while also maintaining Scotland’s allegiance as a character who readily wins sympathy from the audience. As a result, the personalities and decisions made by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth can be compared and contrasted.

To begin, each of the characters’ personalities changes as a result of their vulnerability and exposure to events, allowing them to be compared and contrasted with one another. How the husband-wife pair may be differentiated based on their apparent differences in personality is demonstrated by confidence and self-assurance.

Essay 3

7.2 billion people on the planet have flaws, and not a single person is perfect. Everyone has faults, and some are considered worse than others. Macbeth’s hamartia was his desire for power; he craved for it above all else. Being ambitious isn’t a negative trait; it just means you have the will to work hard in order to achieve your objectives. Macbeth had an unchecked ambition that corrupted into greed and madness, causing him to make decisions that damaged himself and those around him.

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At any time, Macbeth may have halted if he had been influenced by the witches and his wife, Lady Macbeth. It was foretold that Banquo’s offspring would become king. “… Then, like a prophet, they hailed him, father, to a line of kings. They put a fruitless crown on my head and placed a barren scepter in my hand” (3 1 62-65). “To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings! Rather than so, come fate into the list, and champion to me the utterance…” (3 1 74-75)

Macbeth was afraid of everyone and everything, and he thought that everyone wanted the crown. Fleance, the son of Banquo, was murdered by Macbeth on orders from his father. Fleance narrowly escaped and fled to a safe nation owing to his lucky fortune. Following the assassination of his friend, Macbeth is tormented with guilt, but he continues to nurture his ambition as a means to an end until it devolves into madness.

Essay 4

Ambition is a human trait that everyone possesses to some degree. It’s when ambition grows too strong and takes control of us that things get out of hand. It becomes obsessive, and soon nothing can stop the obsessed person. One may clearly observe the ramifications of unchecked ambition simply by looking around at our present world.

Unchecked ambition may destroy society and lead to its demise. The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, is one such example. Shakespeare employs a number of characters to demonstrate the hazardous nature of unchecked ambition throughout the play’s acts. Macbeth, the main character, is easily identified as such.

In Act II, the next step in Macbeth’s growth ambition is observed. Macbeth is writing a letter to his spouse informing her of the Weird Sisters’ prophecies and the King’s plans to pay them a visit that night. Lady Macbeth concocts a scheme to murder the King in their home after reading this.

That night, Macbeth attempts to withdraw the strategy, “We will go no further in this endeavor” (1.7.31). This indicates that Macbeth’s desire has not yet become so powerful as to cause him to kill someone. Lady Macbeth clearly convinces Macbeth to continue with his efforts, and King Duncan is murdered on his way back from the king’s chamber. While waiting for Macbeth in the king’s chamber, Lady Macbeth demonstrates some of her own ambition: “That which made them drunk has emboldened me” (2.2.1).

Lady Macbeth is empowered when she successfully pushes the drink onto the guards. Many people are changed into power-hungry ants when they witness what humanity is capable of. Lady Macbeth is an obvious illustration of this fault. When word spreads that the king has been murdered, suspicion falls on Malcolm and Donalbain, King Duncan’s sons.

Malcolm and Donalbain were clever enough to figure out that one of their close pals was responsible for their father’s murder, so they fled. As a result, the princes come under suspicion. Outside the home, Ross has a conversation with Macduff about Malcolm and Donalbain: “Against nature still! Greedy ambition that will devour your own means of livelihood” (2.4.27-29).

The murderers of the kings appear to be driven by ambition since they would benefit most from the king’s death. Ross understands how tragic it is that family members are murdering each other for persona advantage. Ross isn’t aware of it yet, but what he’s saying is true; however, it doesn’t affect Malcolm and Donalbain.

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Unchecked Ambition in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” Essay. (2021, Oct 29). Retrieved December 9, 2022, from