In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, ambition is one of the main
themes and plays a huge role in character development. Ambition affects two
main characters, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. Over the course of the play, their
ambition continues to grow. However, it is when their ambition takes them to a
dark place that is presented as a dangerous quality. The dark side of ambition
is evident when Lady Macbeth pressures Macbeth to kill Duncan, when Macbeth’s
ambition drives him to kill Duncan to fulfill the prophecy, and when Macbeth
has Banquo killed because he fears that he will pose a threat.

 

            Firstly, Lady Macbeth is
one of the most frightening female characters. She is stronger, more ruthless,
power hungry, and ambitious than her husband, Macbeth. However, her ambition is
driven by greed. She wants to be Queen and wants that power. The dark of side
of her ambition first shows when she plots Duncan’s murder and pushes Macbeth
into committing murder. At some point, she wishes that she were not a woman so
that she could do it herself. After Macbeth declares that he will no longer
kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth rages and manipulates him by questioning his manhood:
“When you durst do it, then you were a man” (1.7.49). She tells him her plan
and he then agrees to proceed with the murder. Lady Macbeth’s dark ambition
drives her to go crazy which ultimately drives her to her death. The dark side
of ambition caused Lady Macbeth to convince Macbeth to take away an innocent
man’s life to have power.

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Secondly, at the beginning of the play, Macbeth
is brave, honorable and moral. Throughout the play, he loses these qualities
and begins to develop a dark side of ambition. The dark side of Macbeth’s
ambition is when he does a terrible deed by killing Duncan and his servants to
cover up his wrongdoing. He encounters the weird sisters and they proclaim
three prophecies, Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and become king in the
future. Macbeth begins to hope that the prophecy comes true, after all most of
it came true. However, Macbeth becomes more ambitious about becoming king but
when he meets the king he does not want to kill him anymore: “To prick the
sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition,” (1.7.26-27). Lady Macbeth,
knowing the prophecy, decides to help Macbeth fulfill his ambition by planning
Duncan’s death. Macbeth’s ambition got to him by a little push by his wife. Macbeth
decides to go through with the murder of king Duncan to become king himself: “I
am settled, and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat.”
(1.7.79-80). He became king but lives his life with guilt and dark ambition
which lead to him hallucinating. Macbeth’s dark ambition exceeded from the
death of king Duncan to a series of other murders.

 

Lastly, another dark side of Macbeth’s ambition
is him killing Banquo, a polite, trustworthy and moral friend. After the
witches tell Macbeth he will become king, the witches tell Banquo that he will
not be king himself, but that his descendants will be. Macbeth realizes that
Banquo poses a threat to his rise in power and wants to make a move. He hires
murderers to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance because he does not want friends
knowing he is a murderer and no longer has to do his own dirty work: “It is
concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight, if it find heaven, must find it out tonight.”
(3.1.146-147). The murderers attack Banquo and kills him but Fleance got lucky
and could escape: “There’s but one down. The son is fled.” (3.3.23). Banquo
does nothing to accuse Macbeth of murdering the king, even though he has a
reason to, yet Macbeth’s dark ambition makes him believe the worst. When the deed
is done, Macbeth believes that he is seeing Banquo and acts suspicious. After
killing Banquo, it is obvious that his ambition is dark and is presented as a
dangerous quality. The death of king Duncan was one murder to become king but
it became even more dangerous when he murders, now that he becomes king.

 

In conclusion, the magnificent William
Shakespeare did a terrific job at including the dark side of ambition into the
play. Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to do an evil deed that leads to a
catastrophe, and Macbeth does the act of doing the deed, the death of Duncan,
which is followed by the murder of Banquo. The dangerous quality results to the
mortality of both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth due to the dark ambitious
characteristic.

 

 

 

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