Is Macbeth a Tragedy of Ambition
Is Macbeth a Tragedy of Ambition : Macbeth is inspired by the prophecies of the Witches to be ambitious and his ambition is driven by Lady Macbeth.
Macbeth a Tragedy of Ambition
In Macbeth, ambition is presented as a dangerous quality. It is the driving forces of the play. It is ambition which causes the downfall of Macbeth and triggers a series of deaths in the play. Macbeth is inspired by the prophecies of the Witches to be ambitious and his ambition is driven by Lady Macbeth.
When the Witches meet Macbeth and Banquo, they greet Macbeth as the Thane of Glamis and the Thane of Cawdor, and predict that he will be the king of Scotland. Of Banquo, the Witches predict that he will be the begetter of a line of kings. When Rosse and Angus inform Macbeth about the conferment by King Duncan of the title of the Thane of Cawdor on him, Macbeth hopefully begins to look forward to the fulfillment of the final prediction, that is, of his becoming king.
Thus, the prophesy of the Witches had made a deep impression on Macbeth’s mind. When Duncan nominates Malcolm to be to the heir to the throne, Macbeth thinks it to be an obstacle in the way of his becoming king. So, the thought of murdering Duncan has taken a firm root in his mind. It is evident that the Witches have stimulated in Macbeth an ambition which would have remained dormant if the Witches would make no prophecy.
But the Witches are not fully responsible for Duncan’s murder. It is Lady Macbeth who gives the fuel to the fire of Macbeth’s ambition to kill Duncan. When Duncan arrived at Inverness, Macbeth controlled his ambition for the time being and did not kill Duncan. But his wife, Lady Macbeth brings him back to his original decision.
Lady Macbeth convinced Macbeth that the murder would go undiscovered, and this was what gave Macbeth the courage and determination to proceed with his plans. Her forceful arguments revive his ambition and cannot but agree to his wife’s plan. So, he says:
I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Thus, Macbeth kills Duncan being influenced by his wife. Having taken the road of self damnation, he is now unable to stop. Macbeth is now always ready to remove every obstacle from his way to remaining in his state of power. Realizing the danger from Banquo and thinking of the prophecy that the throne will eventually pass to the descendants of Banquo, Macbeth hatches a conspiracy against that man and has him murdered.
It is Macbeth’s second crime. He commits another crime warned by the first apparition. The first apparition warned Macbeth to beware of Macduff and Macbeth has already been feeling apprehensive of Macduff’s attitude towards him. As a result, he decides to massacre Macduff’s family.
Here Macbeth degenerates into a butcher. His tragedy lies in this degeneration. At last comes the time of his doom. When he faces Macduff in the battlefield, he tells him that nobody born of a woman can kill him. At the time Macduff reveals that he was removed from his mother’s womb prematurely by means of a caesarean operation, and that he is not therefore born of a woman in the normal sense. On hearing this Macbeth gives up all hopes and within moments he is slain by Macduff.
Thus, ambition is the root cause of Macbeth’s downfall, as it planted the seeds of murder, which grew into an uncontrollable monster that eventually destroyed anyone who got in its way.
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