Macbeth Character Flaws

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About this sample


Words: 766 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 5, 2024

Words: 766|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 5, 2024

In the realm of Shakespearean tragedies, Macbeth stands out as a quintessential example of a character plagued by flaws that ultimately lead to his downfall. The character of Macbeth is complex and multi-faceted, with a range of flaws that contribute to his tragic fate. In this essay, we will delve into one specific aspect of Macbeth's character flaws: his unchecked ambition.

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Ambition is a central theme in Macbeth, driving much of the plot and character development. Macbeth's ambition is evident from the very beginning of the play, as he is willing to do whatever it takes to seize power and fulfill the witches' prophecies. His ambition blinds him to the consequences of his actions, leading him to commit heinous crimes in pursuit of his goals. One of the key implications of Macbeth's unchecked ambition is the erosion of his moral compass. As he becomes more consumed by his desire for power, Macbeth is willing to betray and murder those closest to him, including King Duncan and his friend Banquo. His ambition leads him to commit acts of violence and treachery that he would never have considered before, highlighting the corrupting influence of unchecked ambition. Evidence from the play supports the idea that Macbeth's ambition is his fatal flaw. In Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth himself acknowledges the dangers of his ambition, stating, "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself / And falls on the other." This metaphorical language highlights the reckless nature of Macbeth's ambition, as it drives him to take risks that ultimately lead to his downfall. Furthermore, scholars and critics have long recognized the significance of Macbeth's ambition as a character flaw. In his essay "The Tragedy of Macbeth," literary critic A.C. Bradley argues that Macbeth's ambition is the primary cause of his downfall, stating that "Macbeth's ambition is not strong enough to overcome his moral sense; it is too weak to resist the suggestions of his wife." This interpretation emphasizes the internal conflict within Macbeth, as his ambition clashes with his sense of right and wrong. Counterarguments may suggest that other factors, such as the influence of Lady Macbeth or the supernatural elements in the play, play a significant role in Macbeth's downfall. While these factors certainly contribute to Macbeth's tragic fate, it is ultimately his unchecked ambition that drives the narrative forward and leads to his demise.

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence that highlights the destructive nature of Macbeth's ambition is the witches' prophecies themselves. In Act 1, Scene 3, the witches tell Macbeth that he will become king, planting the seed of ambition in his mind. This prophecy sets off a chain of events that ultimately leads to Macbeth's downfall. Without the promise of power and glory, it is unlikely that Macbeth would have taken the extreme measures he did to secure the throne. This demonstrates the powerful influence that ambition can have on an individual, especially when fueled by external forces. Additionally, Macbeth's ambition is further fueled by the influence of Lady Macbeth, who serves as a catalyst for his descent into darkness. In Act 1, Scene 5, Lady Macbeth implores her husband to "look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it," encouraging him to mask his true intentions in order to achieve his goals. Lady Macbeth's manipulation and encouragement push Macbeth to commit murder and betray those he once held dear. While Lady Macbeth certainly plays a significant role in Macbeth's downfall, it is ultimately his unchecked ambition that drives him to take such drastic actions. Furthermore, the supernatural elements in the play, such as the witches and their prophecies, serve to amplify Macbeth's ambition and push him further down a path of destruction. The witches' predictions provide Macbeth with a false sense of security and invincibility, leading him to believe that he is destined for greatness and untouchable by harm. This false sense of confidence only serves to fuel Macbeth's ambition and blind him to the consequences of his actions. In light of these factors, it becomes clear that while external influences certainly play a role in Macbeth's downfall, it is ultimately his unchecked ambition that serves as the driving force behind his tragic fate. The combination of the witches' prophecies, Lady Macbeth's manipulation, and the supernatural elements in the play all serve to exacerbate Macbeth's ambition and push him towards his inevitable demise. In the end, Macbeth's unchecked ambition serves as a cautionary tale, reminding audiences of the dangers of allowing ambition to cloud one's judgment and lead to one's downfall.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Macbeth Character Flaws. (2024, March 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from
“Macbeth Character Flaws.” GradesFixer, 05 Mar. 2024,
Macbeth Character Flaws. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jul. 2024].
Macbeth Character Flaws [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 05 [cited 2024 Jul 19]. Available from:
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