The Impact of Ambition on People in Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth

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Words: 979 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 979|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

William Shakespeare uses Macbeth to demonstrate how an individual’s ambition can impact ones selves and others. While some people's ambitions lead to greatness, others ambitions can ultimately lead to the individual's downfall. Lady Macbeth's greed leads to her pressuring Macbeth, conclusively leading to their downfall and having a negative effect to the people surrounding them.

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Lady Macbeth believes that Macbeth deserves to be king and she wants him to take what he deserves. When Lady Macbeth says “Wouldst thou have that as thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have which thou esteem’st the ornament of life and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting “i dare not” wait upon “I would” Like the poor cat I’ th’adage?”. This statement shows how Lady Macbeth is trying to persuade Macbeth into murdering Duncan without truly stating it. By her using the word coward it makes the mood more hostile and makes her sound more persuading. Adding to that she’s stating that he would be much happier being king or of which he esteems. The statement she makes above shows how she is pushing Macbeth to kill Duncan so that she can live as royalty. Lady Macbeths greed is also another reason that she drives Macbeth to murder. Her greed also clouds her judgment and after the deed had been done she shows no remorse, shown in this quote; “ my hands are of your colour, but I shame to wear a heart so white.” She's basically calling Macbeth a coward for feeling guilty for his actions and telling him to man up. As the play progresses however she starts to feel more guilty resulting in her becoming paranoid. Her desire to be of power and riches ultimately results in her own downfall and that of Macbeths.

Macbeth wants to be king but doesn’t want to harm anyone in order to become king. “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir”. Macbeth is a very impressionable man when it comes to love because, Lady Macbeth was able to persuade him into doing something that he very clearly stated he had no desire to do. There had to be some part of him that wanted to kill Duncan though, it wasn’t all Lady Macbeth’s doing. Macbeth wants to make his wife proud and happy. “What beast was’t, then, That made you break this enterprise to me? … Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.” In this part of the play Lady Macbeth is calling Macbeth a coward, telling him that if she had promised him that she would kill her child that she would and that she wouldn’t go against her word like he is. Macbeth feels as though he’s disappointing his love and he never wants to dissapoint her or have her think less of him, therefore he’s persuaded to murder Duncan. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth is very paranoid and thinks Banquo is onto him and thinks he knows what he’s done. In addition to that the witches said that the sons of Banquo would be kings, Macbeth is upset by that because he believes that his sons should have the crown once he dies. “Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown, and put a barren sceptre in my gripe, thence to be wrench’d with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding.” The paranoia and the anger of his sons not becoming kings drives Macbeth to killing Banquo in addition to Duncan. The power of being king goes to his head resulting in him being a bad king, as well as his subjects wanting him dethroned or even killed like Duncan, consequently leading to his downfall and ultimately ending in his death.

Banquo and Duncan fall victim to Macbeth’s ambitions to be king as Duncan was king and Banquo’s sons were said to be kings. Banquo was with Macbeth when the witches told him the prophecies and Banquo wished to know his prophecies, Macbeth knew Banquo’s prophecies and Banquo knew Macbeth’s. When all of Macbeth’s became true, Banquo became suspicious of Macbeth. “Thou hast it now — king, Cawdor, Glamis, all as the Weird Women promised, and I fear thou played’st most foully for’t”. That made Macbeth want Banquo gone and knowing that Banquo’s sons would be kings and not his own drove him to having Banquo killed. Duncan also fell victim to Macbeth’s ambitions because he was the king at the time that Macbeth needed to get rid of in order to become king. It wasn’t that Macbeth wanted to kill Duncan, He even said that Duncan was a nice guy and good king. “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murder shut the door, not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels.” But Macbeth had his eyes set on the prize, being king. Duncan was the only thing getting in the way of him becoming king and therefore he took actions into his own hands and killed him so that he could fulfill his dream of being powerful.

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Macbeth is a great example of how an individual’s ambition affects themselves and others. Lady Macbeth wants to have riches and to be powerful and so she uses her husband to get that. Macbeth desires to be king and therefore when Lady Macbeth tells him to kill Duncan he complies. It shows how one's ambition can have a ripple effect and not only affects themselves but also the others surrounding them, as shown by Duncan and Banquo. Individual’s ambition while it can lead to great things it can also lead to great tragedy. 

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The Impact Of Ambition On People In Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“The Impact Of Ambition On People In Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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