Essay he forces his ambitions onto Malcolm,
Essay Topic: Select one of the themes of Macbeth and discuss the way Shakespeare treats it. Macbeth is, among other things, a study of the effects and dangers of ambition. Shakespeare offers several different examples of ambition through the major characters Banquo, Lady Macbeth and, most importantly Macbeth himself.
Macbeth’s ambitions of becoming King of Scotland leads to the destruction of his wife, his country and himself. Lady Macbeth’s covetous thoughts of wanting her husband to be crowned King, lead her to disillusionment, unhappiness and an inability to sleep.The guilt eats away at her, leaving her to feel isolated by her husband and haunted by the memories. Banquo however, is a victim of his own ambitions. The witches’ prophesies that his children would become Kings in the end, his ambitions lead to secrecy, extreme worry and later on to his death. Duncan is the final example of ambition gone wrong when he forces his ambitions onto Malcolm, his eldest son whom was not yet fit to be King nor had the great qualities to lead his country.Duncan’s ambitions of wanting Malcolm to be the next heir in the throne, in a way, spurred Macbeth into killing him as he also knew that Malcolm was not fit to be King as yet.
By the end of the play, Malcolm is found to be the good example of ambition when he finally matures into being the good and better King that Scotland deserves. At the beginning of the play, the character of Macbeth is found to be a well established leader, however, his ambitions of being crowned King over powers him leading to the conflict of the story.He is considered a brave and courageous man, “…Like Valor’s minion carv’d out his passage…” 1, 2, 19, but after the witches prophesies, his life begins to change, making every word the witches spoke, come true. “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis…Thane of Cawdor…that shalt be King hereafter…” 1, 3, 47-49. Macbeth, at first is reluctant to murder Duncan, but with persuasion from Lady Macbeth, he is able to continue as they had planned.
From the crime that Macbeth commits, it leads to sleepless nights, and fear, “As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands…
” 2, 2, 3. Soon Macbeth begins to feel troubled in his own body, fearing for his life, he decides to murder Banquo as he was beginning to be suspicious of the way Macbeth has been acting. But Banquo’s murder only causes Macbeth more troubles, at the state banquet; Macbeth begins to see things that only he can see, floating daggers with which he murdered Duncan with and the ghost of Banquo.
“Is this a dagger which I see before me…” 2, 1, 33.The more murders there were the more mentally deranged and unstable Macbeth became, pushing him to the edge until he felt he had no choice but to consult the Weird Sisters so he could find some peace of mind, some thought of comfort. “I conjure you by that which you profess,” 4, 1, 49. Lady Macbeth’s ambition for her husband to be King and herself to be queen leads her to conspire to murder, to her own insanity and later on in the play, to her death. She is blinded so much by her greed to be named Queen of Scotland that she does not stop to think of the consequences she will face in the end.Duncan’s murder leaves her feeling isolated from her husband.
Macbeth is so focused on keeping his evil deeds secret that he does not notice that his wife is feeling abandoned and neglected. “…How now, my lord, why do you keep alone…? ” 3, 2, 8. As each hour ticks by and the more Macbeth neglects her, the more guilt she begins to feel, pushing her more and more to the point where she begins to walk in her sleep and talk of the past nightmares she is feeling. “The Thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now…? ” 5, 1, 38. Her state of mind is also shown by her constant need to wash Duncan’s blood off her hands.
“Out, damned spot! Out, I say! 5, 1, 31. Eventually the guilt from her unhealthy ambition kills her. Another example of an ambition struck character is Banquo. The witches’ prophecies lead to his ambitions of wanting his descendants to be Kings causing him to keep the truth from everyone and live in secrecy. This in a way leads to his death.
From Banquo’s first encounter with the Weird Sisters, his life also changes and he loses sleep. “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be one. ” 1, 3, 35. The witches’ prophesized that Banquo will be father of Kings, yet he cannot be King, but his ambitions overwhelm him leading to a point where the truth no longer could be spoken.
Like Macbeth, Banquo is also very ambitious but compared to Macbeth, his selfish wants never over powered his honour nor the good of Scotland. Banquo is seen as a threat to Macbeth as Banquo is slowly becoming suspicious of him, “…As the weird women promis’d, and I fear Thou playd’st most foully for’t…” 3, 1, 2-3, hence triggering Macbeth to kill him, but Macbeth’s conscience won’t let him live it down, hence the scene where Banquo’s ghost visits Macbeth during his state banquet. Here is a place reserv’d, sir…Where…Here, my good Lord. What is’t that moves your highness? ” 3, 4, 46-48.
On the same night of Macbeth’s state banquet is the same night in which the murder of Banquo occurs. Whilst making his way home with his son Fleance, they are attacked by three murderers who are ordered by Macbeth. However, the murderers are not as fortunate when Fleance, son of Banquo escapes leaving the murderers to discard of only Banquo’s body. “Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly…” 3, 3, 20.
Duncan’s ambition seals his fate when he makes an announcement in the presence of Macbeth that Malcolm will be the next heir to the throne. “We will establish our estate upon Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter The Prince of Cumberland…” 1, 4, 37-39. Although King Duncan knows his son is not mature enough to take his place, he does not care as all he wants is to have his royal blood line carried on. Although Malcolm is Duncan’s eldest son, he is still immature, a young man who still needs to learn the qualities of becoming a great King and leading a country to peace.On hearing this, Macbeths own ambition to be King is spurred on encouraging the assassination plans he has for Duncan. Of all the ambitions throughout the play, the most legitimate is Malcolm’s ambition. Although Malcolm at first does not yearn for anything, his father’s ambition for him to be King is forced upon him.
After the horrible murder of his father, he flees to England to seek safety. In doing this, he is running away from the huge problems Scotland faces under the tyranny of Macbeth. Malcolm uses this time to develop leadership skills and moral strength.The character of Malcolm starts off as an immature, weak young man who has no leadership qualities what so ever, but by the end of the play, he matures into a worthy and righteous King.
“We will perform in measure, time, and place. So, thanks to all at once and to each one, Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone. ” 5, 9, 40-42. Shakespeare ends the play with Malcolm taking control of Scotland and being crowned King showing the audience that ambition can be either worthy or monstrous as in the case of Macbeth.