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The William Shakespeare Tragedy Of Macbeth English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 816 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The William Shakespeare tragedy of Macbeth is an explicit play of contradiction and vaulting ambition. Macbeth is Shakespeare’s profound and mature vision of evil through the disintegration and damnation of man. For no other motive than vaulting ambition, Macbeth transforms a life of promise to one that essentially signifies nothing. The complexity of human nature also evokes another perception that may suggest Macbeth is a naturally good man who is betrayed by his ambition and evil outside influences.

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The predominant theme of Macbeth is central to the idea of ambition as an abundant and tragic flaw that ultimately leads to his demise. Macbeth is originally portrayed as a brave and noble man; however he quite quickly becomes the victim of an irrepressible ambition which seems to have no boundaries. Macbeth’s obsessive desire for power takes control of his actions through an impaired judgement and desperate need for fulfilment. There is no doubt that Macbeth is a noble man as he risked everything to protect Scotland from Norway, and single-handedly took down the treacherous thane of Cawdor. This uncontrollable ambition is clearly illustrated within the scene of contemplating the king’s murder, “let not light see my black and deep desires” (Act 1. Scene. 4, Line. 51). This quote shows that Macbeth recognized his intentions were completely immoral, however his ambition essentially betrayed him, forcing him to murder the king and anyone who posed a threat to his inevitable supremacy.

Another act that demonstrates Macbeth’s repulsion for evil is displayed within the scene following the murder. Macbeth reveals excessive signs of guilt which disturb him and slowly degrade his health. Showing signs of remorse illustrates a typical sense of sorrow within the moral conscience; however his ambition was too powerful and was no longer controllable. Lady Macbeth also plays a major role in the manipulation of her husband’s ambition. She is the catalyst that effectively unleashes Macbeth’s merciless evil.

Lady Macbeth plays an instrumental part in shaping Macbeth’s ambition through criticising his courage and masculinity. Lady Macbeth possesses an evil personality and repeatedly questions the masculinity of Macbeth through relevant statements such as, “when you durst do it then you were a man”. This quote is rather diminutive as it questions the personality of Macbeth as a courageous and heroic figure among the public. In essence, it may be argued that Lady Macbeth is the true murderer through the art of psychological manipulation which corrupts the actions of Macbeth and impairs his moral judgement.

Lady Macbeth’s words to her husband as well as her many powerful soliloquies show us her desire to ultimately become queen. The perception of becoming queen pushes Lady Macbeth to an unimaginable level of desire by which she said “this love is worth nothing if you refuse to go through with the plan”. Lady Macbeth is perceptibly responsible for Macbeth’s vaulting ambition, through her ability to psychologically abuse him and increase his level of aspiration and greed. These malicious actions single handedly murdered the king, leaving Macbeth trapped with guilt and an inner moral judgement which left him in a state of emotional paranoia. Macbeth’s inescapable road of doom was also heavily influenced by an outside force, a fate in the form of three witches.

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The witches are a profound source of evil through their prophecies that would ultimately ignite Macbeth’s burning desire for success. The prophecy, at the beginning of the play, predicted that Macbeth would soon become the Thane of Cawdor and eventually the outright king. The witches tempted Macbeth with their prophecies, which made his mind fill of ambition through a desperate hunger for power. The prophecies were thoroughly emphasized in an attempt to create chaos and evil that dominated Macbeth’s mind. The witches had a diminutive sense of morals as they commonly professed and proclaimed the general statement, “fair is foul and foul is fair”.

Macbeth was a virtuous and humble man, however when confronted by the witches, the corruption of power and greed immerged. The witches, to some extent are responsible for these temptations, as they had the power to induce wrongful doings. His ambition advanced within his head until his thirst for power became irrepressible, causing him to lose it all to the blade of Macduff’s sword. Macbeth was simply tempted by the witches to commit these acts with the only motive being personal glory and authority. The play constantly illustrates that when Macbeth is not the victim of manipulation, he is a courageous and loyal man who is held in high esteem by the community.


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