What Role Does Ambition Play In Macbeth's Downfall

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Typically, ambition is seen as a positive attribute. However in the play of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, it is seen as a character flaw that will be a central character's downfall, as is the case with Macbeth. His self proclaimed “vaulting ambition” corrupted his once intact morals and was his undoing. Macbeth is an example of a Shakespearean tragedy, where the protagonist starts at the top and, due to hubris, loses everything. The prophecy, “All hail Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter”(I,iii,46-50) played to Macbeth’s ambition, molding him to the witches will. If not for the prophecy, the downward spiral would never have begun. As the…show more content…
Each incident furthered his inability to process the fault in his doings; this eventually ended with his lack of emotion when presented with his wife’s suicide stating that “she should have died here hereafter”(V,v,17). He no longer felt fear, as he believed to be virtually invincible because “[...] for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth” (IV,i,79-81), not accounting for Macduff to be “[...] from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d” (V,viii,15-16). This section of the prophecy created a false sense of security in Macbeth. Although, as in all Shakespearean tragedies, there is a glimpse of what the protagonist once was before they meet their demise. In the case of Macbeth, the former warrior showed his courage and stood tall in the face of the British Army. As one of the first existentialist anti heros, he questions the worth of his actions to get him the throne and that “[life] is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”(V,v,24-28). He comes to this conclusion, and decides to hold his ground and die with a sword in his hand. In summary, Macbeth’s ambition was his downfall for various reasons. These provocative predictions were the prophecies that the witches told, the murder of Duncan, Banquo and Macduff’s entire family. Once being a good man that simply committed evils, he evolved into the figure we associate his name with today as a bloody tale of a tyrant. As a play that has survived through the ages, Macbeth teaches the lesson of not fulfilling ambition through heinous means and that even a good and just man can succumb to his

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