Power and Uncontrolled Ambition in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

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Words: 966 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2021

Words: 966|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2021

In William Shakespeare’s Tragedy, Macbeth, obtaining power at whatever costs leads the character of Lady Macbeth to madness, but her true flaw was an unquenchable desire for ambition which then leads to guilt. Hamartia is a term meaning “tragic flaw”, which means the downfall of the protagonist in classical tragedy. “Harmatia” of Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth is their ambitions, they share the same tragic flaw. She is more ruthless and ambitious than Macbeth. Lady Macbeth’s tragic flaw that eventually leads to her devastating feelings of guilt at the end is her ambition and willingness to do anything for it. This characterized is by Macbeth’s letter, her desire for power and her uncontrolled ambition. 

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“That I may pour my spirits in thine ear /And chastise with the valor of my tongue”. After reading the letter from Macbeth describing the three witches prophecies her desire for the crown starts. Her reaction on this letter is very dramatic. Lady Macbeth knows that her husband has a sense of duty and honor and it will be difficult to him to act such a cruel murder, so she must persuade him to kill Duncan, by any means necessary. She instantly shows ambitions and her willingness to help her husband in murdering King Duncan. She is trying to persuade him by different ways she uses the terrible and violent tactic. Lady Macbeth manipulates him by comparing to being the child in some cases. That he cannot deal with such easy mission. 

“Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it.What thou wouldst highly That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false.” 

In this quote she talks about the ambition of power doesn’t follow any rules. What must be done must be done. She won’t feel any guilt because it is the will of the gods. 

Something evil inhabits her, thirst for power controls her. Lady Macbeth knows that the only way to achieve her aim is to make such violent action. One of the most important scenes is when in her soliloquy when she wants to become more masculine which is the first indication that she is willing to give up anything for her ambitions. 

“Your face, my thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters. To beguile the time, ... Your hand, your tongue. Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ‘t. He that’s coming.”

In this quote, she knows that her husband can not hide what he will do. She reassures him that she will set everything up for the murder of Duncan and he needs to be a gracious host to the King. She makes up her mind to make Macbeth do this. 

The desire for power leads to the manipulation of her husband to commit murder and to steal the throne. She is ready for anything to achieve her goal, even she is ready to humiliate her husband for the manipulation. 

“But screw your courage to thesticking-place And we’ll not fail.” 

In this quote, Lady Macbeth is making fun of her husband’s decision not to kill Duncan. He does not want to do it because of a sense of duty that he has towards Duncan and that he has given him the title of Thane of Cawdor. She knows about all his bravery in battles, diplomatic qualities, but he is a gentle person. His upbringing cannot let him implement a murder. As Lady Macbeth says that he is “too full of the milk of human kindness”. 

“And wakes it now, to look so green and pale At what it did so freely? From this time Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard To be the same in thine own act and valor As thou art in desire?” 

In this quote, she is comparing him to somebody who gets sick easily and will not do that he must achieve the throne and to fulfil the prophecy. 

“And live a coward in thine own esteem, Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,' Like the poor cat i' th' adage? MACBETH Prithee, peace:I dare do all that may become a man.” 

With Lady Macbeth’s constant manipulation Macbeth finally decides that killing Duncan he what he must do, not for the fact of the desire, but to be a man in his wife’s eyes.He says that he just cannot do it, but Lady Macbeth’s ambitions are stronger than Macbeth’s fear. Uncontrolled ambition lead to the death of many people, which is a direct response to forcing Macbeth to kill Duncan and a pang of overwhelming guilt falls upon her. Despite the fact that she did not kill anyone in the play by herself. 

“I laid their daggers ready; He could not miss ‘em. Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t.”

In this quote, Lady Macbeth can not go through with the murder because of the resemblance to her father. She starts worrying about what happened and quietly goes mad. 

“Out, damned spot; out, I say. One, two, - why, then ‘tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? – Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.” 

In this quote, Lady Macbeth is completely mad. She is sleepwalking and is observed by the Nurse and a doctor that witness this. The guilt of the murders because of an overwhelming desire for power has made Lady Macbeth powerless. 

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Lady Macbeth is an ambitious and powerful woman. She easily manipulates Macbeth and compels him to commit such a horrible murder of King Duncan. Despite her ruthless actions, in reality, she is soft. After a murder, she takes all guilt on herself, what makes her mad. She was unable to cope with her guilt, thereby committing suicide. 

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Power And Uncontrolled Ambition In Shakespeare’s Macbeth. (2021, November 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“Power And Uncontrolled Ambition In Shakespeare’s Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 10 Nov. 2021,
Power And Uncontrolled Ambition In Shakespeare’s Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 May 2024].
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