Throughout the story of Macbeth, Macbeth’s ambition for power, provoked by his significant other, Lady Macbeth, and the witches’ prophecies consumed his life. At first he committed murder against King Duncan so he could become king himself, but the one murder had a domino affect. Although ambition can be a positive attribute for someone to acquire, Macbeth’s ambition began in Act One and proved dangerous as his death approached in Act Five. In Act One of Macbeth, Macbeth and Banquo meet three witches that tell them three prophecies. One at a time, each witch mentioned a prophecy, “All hail Macbeth, Thane of Glamis!
Manipulating Macbeth and driving his first few steps towards the throne, Lady Macbeth is distinct in her desire for power and willingness to pursue it. This was, of course, especially significant for the time period where women were generally expected to operate in the shadows, adding to her scandalous nature. While plotting her path to the top, Lady Macbeth worries aloud that Macbeth “is too full o ' th ' milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, / Art not without ambition, but without / The illness should attend it” (I.v.17-20). When presented with the chance to claim the crown, Lady Macbeth’s mind immediately turns to murder, her only concern being the morality of her counterpart, characterizing her as a dominant and manipulating woman.
Her ambition, resolution, dissimulation, cunning, presence of mind, energy, and affection were all important, especially in the murder of King Duncan. “Lady Macbeth knows right well when she tells her husband to “leave all the rest to me,” that by dissimulation and cunning she could plan and carry out the murder of Duncan so that no suspicion would rest upon either Macbeth or herself.” (www.shakespeare-online.com) Saying this, Lady Macbeth seems to be the more plotting character between the two. She plans the whole crime scene and leaves the murdering to Macbeth. While readers know her energy is one of the main traits that helped con Macbeth into murdering King Duncan, Macbeth did not realize that she knows his weakness and uses it to her
Lady Macbeth contributes towards Macbeth 's downfall as she is seen to be alluring, particularly in encouraging Macbeth to kill the King. She too is sure that murder is the only solution to make the prophecy come true, but she also believes that he is "too full o ' the milk of human kindness". Lady Macbeth uses the metaphor of "milk" (being a pure drink) to show that Macbeth will "catch the nearest way" to become the King of Scotland. Macbeth does not lack ambition,however he is squeamish about the methods used to become the leader. In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth decides to cancel the plan of murdering king Duncan, Lady Macbeth uses several techniques to in order to convince him to carry out the plan.
MacBeth states, “and it is done...bell invites me...Duncan... it is a knell...summons thee to heaven and hell”(19-22). Later on, while talking to his murders he says, “It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight, if it find heaven...tonight”(141-142). Furthermore, MacBeth decides to kill again, “...MacDuff I will surprise, seize upon fife...his wife, his babies…”(149-153). Throughout the first three acts, MacBeth is determined to keep the throne so, he kills whomever is needed, even if they are only suspected to be a threat.
He decides his final decision by the push of Lady Macbeth. He tells her, “I am settled, and bend up/ Each corporal agent to this terrible feat” (I.7.79-80). Macbeth end ups murdering the king due to Lady Macbeth pushing his flaw even more. Banquo’s fate, on the other hand, was that his descendants were to become kings. Macbeth's flaw makes him become paranoid about Banquo’s children being king because he wants the throne for his own descendants and not his.
Lady Macbeth confidently pushes Macbeth to become king. She wants to be queen and obtain the power that comes with it. She is not shaken by the guilt of murder like Macbeth. When Lady Macbeth finds out about the prophecy she knows “[Macbeth’s] nature;/....is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness”(1.5.16-17). She must “pour [her] spirits in [Macbeth’s] ear/ And chastise with the valor of [her] tongue”(1.5.29-30).
Throughout the book, the well respected Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are consumed by power and greed. They end up killing the King of Scotland to become royal. While greed is tempting we need to remember that it is a destructive force and its consequences outweigh the benefits. Even though greed appears glamorous and inviting, Shakespeare shows us that it is contagious and addicting and will lead to destruction. Shakespeare reveals how contagious and evil greed is by the suggestion from the witches that Macbeth will be king.
30-35) This is evidence towards Lady Macbeth wanting to have full masculine emotions. Which she hopes with this masculinity she can pull off a huge cruel, murderous, plan. Lady Macbeth made it clear in the story that she was ruthless. She told Macbeth that she would bash in the brains of her baby she was nursing. How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.
Beginning with Lady Macbeth summoning evil spirits, to her not being able to hear the horrible news, to Macbeth questioning the masculinity of three murderers, to Macduff deciding to do more than just sit back and watch, to the death of the son of the King of England, gender roles can be found in crack and corner of Macbeth. Starting early in the play, after reading Macbeth’s letter about being told his prophecy of becoming king, Lady Macbeth decides that it is Macbeth’s fate to become king. She knows how loyal Macbeth is to Duncan but she knows she can force Macbeth to betray Duncan. Shakespeare uses this moment to go against tradition and has the good wife of the honorable man start meddling in evil. To do this, she calls upon unholy “spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts” to “unsex [her] here” (I.v.46-49).