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The Tragedy of Ambition in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Ambition

In the play by William Shakespeare, Macbeth is depicted as a tragic hero. Although the readers view him as a courageous and ambitious person, Macbeth appears to be a moral coward. These traits of the hero’s character lead to his imminent death in the end of the play.

From the beginning of the play, Macbeth is identified by Shakespeare as a hero. For instance, the opening scene shows Macbeth’s courage in the defense of Scotland. In addition, the hero is very ambitious to become a king. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is loyal and faithful to the king. Although, he sometimes imagines the king’s murder, Macbeth’s mind rejects the idea: “Why, if fate will have me king, why, chance may crown me,” - Act I, Sc 3, p.44-45

Unfortunately, Macbeth’s ambitious character destroys his good nature. The hero decides to murder Duncan when he titles Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland. When the king comes to Inverness, Macbeth is still able to control his ambition that saves Duncan from death. The failing of Macbeth’s decision is greatly impacted by Lady Macbeth who calls the husband a coward. Right after the king’s murder, evil nature prevailed in Macbeth’s character.

In addition, sinful nature that takes over Macbeth stimulates him to end friendship with Banquo. According to the witch’s prediction, Banquo’s son is predetermined to become the king. Thus, Macbeth kills his loyal friend intending to eliminate all possible obstacles on the way to becoming the king and satisfying his ambitions.

The negative changes in Macbeth’s character also lead to bad relationship with Lady Macbeth. The hero understands that he no longer needs her support and encouragement. So, he starts to keep his plans in a secret from the wife. When Lady Macbeth has a dream about the murder of Banquo and Duncan, she realizes that she is also guilty in their deaths. The understanding of her sin leads to the heroine’s tragic suicide in the end of the play. The death of the wife finally leads to the destruction of Macbeth’s soul.

At the end of the play, William Shakespeare shows the power of nemesis by depicting Macduff who comes to kill Macbeth. This is a surprise for Macbeth who could not predict that Macduff was planning to revenge for the murder in his household. This nemesis demonstrates the power that is beyond Macbeth’s control. Due to the hero’s belief in witches and his own ambition, he fails to realize the genuine threat posed by Macduff. Only when Macbeth sees the third apparition, he understands that his life is in serious danger.

During the course of action in the play, Macbeth’s character changes from good to evil. His unreasonable belief in the power of witches and his own ambitious character lead to his tragic death and cause many other people to sacrifice their lives.

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