The Emotions of Ambition, Remorse, and Fear in Macbeth

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 656 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 656|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Ambition: Macbeth's Driving Force
  2. Remorse: Macbeth's Guilt
  3. Fear: Macbeth's Paranoia
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

Ambition, remorse, and fear are three powerful emotions that play a significant role in William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth. As the protagonist, Macbeth experiences a range of emotions after killing King Duncan, which ultimately lead to his downfall. This essay will explore the emotions of ambition, remorse, and fear in Macbeth and how they contribute to the tragic events that unfold throughout the play.

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Ambition: Macbeth's Driving Force

From the very beginning of the play, it is evident that Macbeth is a character driven by ambition. The witches' prophecies, which predict that Macbeth will become the King of Scotland, ignite a fire within him, pushing him to fulfill his deepest desires. However, after killing Duncan, Macbeth's ambition takes a dark turn. He becomes consumed by power and is willing to do anything to maintain his position as king.

After the murder, Macbeth experiences a mix of emotions. On one hand, he feels a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. He believes that he has achieved what he had set out to do and that nothing can stand in his way. This is evident in Act II, Scene II, when he says, "I have done the deed" (2.2.14). However, beneath this facade of confidence, Macbeth also feels a deep sense of remorse.

Remorse: Macbeth's Guilt

Despite his initial feelings of accomplishment, Macbeth is haunted by guilt and remorse after killing Duncan. This is illustrated through his vivid and haunting hallucinations. In Act II, Scene II, Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating in front of him, symbolizing his guilt and the bloodshed he has caused. He exclaims, "Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee" (2.1.33-34).

Macbeth's guilt is further emphasized in Act II, Scene II, when he says, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather / The multitudinous seas incarnadine, / Making the green one red" (2.2.78-81). This quote demonstrates Macbeth's overwhelming remorse and his belief that no amount of water can cleanse him of his sins.

Fear: Macbeth's Paranoia

As Macbeth's guilt intensifies, so does his fear. He becomes increasingly paranoid and suspicious of everyone around him. Macbeth's fear is primarily driven by the witches' prophecy that Banquo's descendants will inherit the throne. This fear leads him to order the murder of Banquo and attempt to eliminate any potential threats to his reign.

After Banquo's murder, Macbeth's fear reaches its peak. He starts to see Banquo's ghost during a banquet, which further fuels his paranoia. Macbeth exclaims, "Avaunt! and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee! / Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold; / Thou hast no speculation in those eyes / Which thou dost glare with!" (3.4.95-98). This quote showcases Macbeth's fear and his inability to escape the consequences of his actions.


In conclusion, Macbeth's emotions of ambition, remorse, and fear are intricately woven throughout the play, ultimately leading to his tragic downfall. His ambition drives him to commit heinous acts, while his remorse and guilt haunt him, and his fear consumes him. Macbeth's emotional journey serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the destructive nature of unchecked ambition and the profound impact of remorse and fear on an individual's psyche. Shakespeare's exploration of these emotions in Macbeth invites us to reflect on our own desires, the consequences of our actions, and the importance of moral decision-making.

By examining how Macbeth feels after killing Duncan, we gain a deeper understanding of the complex emotions that drive the play's narrative. Macbeth's journey serves as a reminder that ambition, remorse, and fear can have profound effects on individuals and their actions. As we navigate our own lives, it is crucial to reflect on the consequences of our desires and the emotions that guide us. Macbeth's story teaches us the importance of self-reflection and the need to confront our own inner demons.

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Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2012.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

The Emotions of Ambition, Remorse, and Fear in Macbeth. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“The Emotions of Ambition, Remorse, and Fear in Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
The Emotions of Ambition, Remorse, and Fear in Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
The Emotions of Ambition, Remorse, and Fear in Macbeth [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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