The Effects of Uncontrolled Ambition in Shakespeare's Macbeth

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 751 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 751|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Ambition plays a dominant role in driving a certain course of action through people’s everyday lives, socially and personally. This is by peer pressure, determination to achieve a certain goal or for self-superiority. 'Uncontrolled ambition is frequently at odds with the conscience. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the constant friction between his ambition and his consciences systematically destroys any moral compass that he had.' In the play Macbeth published by William Shakespeare in 1623, the character Macbeth has many predicaments to overcome in life, such as confusion, betrayal, disappointment and acting against his moral beliefs due to his high ambitions. Ambition is the strong desire to do or achieve something, which typically requires determination and hard work and a lot of sacrifice. That desire could allow you to achieve your goals, or ultimately cause your demise. Throughout the play, Macbeth faced many obstacles in his pursuit for leadership, that help shape his character.

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Due to his ambition, Macbeth’s reputation is questioned forcing him to take drastic actions and lead to his own downfall. He is a very intellectual man who is very well known for his great personality. But he realizes his moral values and reputation will be challenged to the point where he has no other choice but to betray the people whom he loved and cared for, “Thought would be great, art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it.” Lady Macbeth gives us the understanding of Macbeth’s true character, which is one that would not betray those who he is loyal to for his gain. This is what is meant by “Too full of the milk of human kindness.” Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to abandon his moral values in order to fully pursue his ambition for power. While Macbeth continues on his journey for more power, he encounters a lot of obstacles.

Macbeth’s character is very well known for his decision making, but during the play, while in the process of becoming king, he reached a point of confusion due to his level of ambition. Macbeth’s confusion became evident when he said “For mine own good All causes shall give way. I am in blood Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er.” At this stage, Macbeth is trying to figure out all his confusion in order to ensure that he is not over his head. Hecate speaks to the weird sisters for embarrassing him, and he decides to make things even more confusing for Macbeth as he tries to steal the crown by showing him more visions. Macbeth is extremely overwhelmed by the situation that he has brought himself into to the point where he cannot think for himself. Therefore, he decides to visit the three witches in order to seek their advice due to his desperation, but instead they get him into more of a mess. This shows that supremacy is never easy to encounter, but ambition and drive encourages Macbeth to keep on going.

Overtime Macbeth worries about his character, health and safety. Which means that he has to sacrifice, betray and go against his own character. Macbeth is completely desperate for the throne “The castle of Macduff I will surprise, seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’ the sword His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool; This deed I'll do before this purpose cool. But no more sights! – Where are these gentlemen? Come, bring me where they are.” Macbeth is speaking about how important it is to kill Macduff’s family. The witches predict that MacDuff may harm Macbeth. The prediction became the catalyst that’s pushed Macbeth to murder Macduff’s family in order to preserve his safety. His determination is continuously increasing. He no longer struggles with moral justice and ethical values. This is when Macbeth’s ambition reaches a major climax.

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Overall, it becomes evident that Macbeth must overcome the many obstacles on his pursuit to seeking the throne. He had to make difficult moral decisions such as killing Macduff’s family for his own safety and in order to stop Macduff from becoming a major obstacle in seeking the throne. His indecisiveness resulted in poor decision making, when he sought advice from the three witches. Throughout all this, Macbeth compromised his reputation and moral values in order to fulfill his ambition. Macbeth’s character shows us that in order to reach our ambition we might have to make difficult decisions and sacrifice in our everyday life.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Effects Of Uncontrolled Ambition In Shakespeare’s Macbeth. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“The Effects Of Uncontrolled Ambition In Shakespeare’s Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
The Effects Of Uncontrolled Ambition In Shakespeare’s Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 May 2024].
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