Corruption and Corruption in Macbeth

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 553 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 553|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Corruption and Power
  2. Ambition and Moral Decay
  3. Corruption and Society
  4. Conclusion

The character of Macbeth, driven by his ambition to become king, succumbs to corruption and ultimately meets his downfall. This essay will explore the concept of corruption in Macbeth, analyzing how power and ambition lead to moral decay and the destruction of individuals and society.

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Corruption and Power

Throughout the play, Shakespeare portrays the corrupting influence of power on individuals. Macbeth, a noble and honorable man at the beginning of the play, is seduced by the prophecies of the witches and the manipulations of his wife, Lady Macbeth. His desire for power and the throne leads him to commit heinous acts, including the murder of King Duncan. This corruption of his moral compass ultimately leads to his own demise.

Research by psychologist Dacher Keltner and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, supports the idea that power can corrupt individuals. In a series of experiments, they found that people in positions of power were more likely to engage in unethical behavior, such as lying and cheating, compared to those with less power. This research provides real-world evidence of the corrupting influence of power, as seen in the character of Macbeth.

Ambition and Moral Decay

Macbeth’s unchecked ambition is another key factor in his descent into corruption. His relentless pursuit of power blinds him to the consequences of his actions, leading him to commit increasingly immoral and ruthless acts. As the play progresses, Macbeth’s ambition transforms into a destructive force that consumes him and those around him.

Studies on the psychology of ambition have shown that it can lead to moral decay and unethical behavior. Psychologist Scott T. Allison, in his research on the dark side of ambition, highlights how unchecked ambition can drive individuals to compromise their ethical principles in pursuit of their goals. This research sheds light on Macbeth’s tragic flaw, as his ambition drives him to commit acts of treachery and violence, ultimately leading to his downfall.

Corruption and Society

Shakespeare’s portrayal of corruption in Macbeth extends beyond the individual characters to the broader societal implications. The play depicts a Scotland in turmoil, where the corrupt actions of its leaders have destabilized the kingdom and led to widespread suffering. The pervasive atmosphere of fear and distrust reflects the corrosive impact of corruption on society as a whole.

“When our actions do not, our fears do make us traitors.” - William Shakespeare, Macbeth

This quote from the play encapsulates the idea that the fear of corruption and betrayal can be just as damaging as the corruption itself. Research by political scientists and economists has shown that corruption erodes trust in institutions, undermines the rule of law, and hinders economic development. The consequences of corruption, as depicted in Macbeth, resonate with the real-world impact of corruption on societies throughout history.


Shakespeare’s Macbeth offers a compelling exploration of the destructive nature of corruption, power, and ambition. Through the tragic character of Macbeth, the play illustrates how the unchecked pursuit of power can lead to moral decay and the downfall of individuals and societies. By drawing on psychological and sociological research, we can further understand the complex interplay between ambition, corruption, and the human condition as depicted in this timeless work of literature.

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As we reflect on the enduring relevance of Macbeth, we are reminded of the importance of ethical leadership, the dangers of unchecked ambition, and the profound impact of corruption on the human experience.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Corruption and Corruption in Macbeth. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“Corruption and Corruption in Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
Corruption and Corruption in Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 May 2024].
Corruption and Corruption in Macbeth [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 May 28]. Available from:
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