Shakespeare's Novel Macbeth and the Corrupting Power of Unchecked Ambition

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We are still able to learn from literature and Shakespeare is one of the greatest teachers because he is able to relate real ideas and themes to life lessons and experiences, like through Macbeth he showed us the corrupting power of unchecked ambition. In William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” he uses Macbeth to show the consequences of being overly ambitious. Macbeth’s downfall was his ambition. Shakespeare also uses lady Macbeth to show the power of greed and how there are consequences to doing something out of greed/ personal gain, for example, lady Macbeth being overcome with guilt after she does all these things out of greed. She ends up taking her life because of how guilty she felt. Shakespeare gives Macbeth a dominant subconscious to explore the power of guilt and how it can drive people insane. Through a text like Macbeth Shakespeare takes themes and concepts to teach us life lessons and morals.

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Shakespeare is one of the greatest teachers because he uses themes and concepts to teach us morals and ethics. Shakespeare uses Macbeth to show the consequences of being overly ambitious. Macbeth’s downfall was his ambition. But it was Lady Macbeth who pushed him to use his ambition to gain power and position. “Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it”. Lady Macbeth states these lines as she is reflecting on her husband’s character. She believes that Macbeth is capable of ambitious dreams but believes he would be unwilling to the behavior to achieve them. This quote represents her philosophy of power and how she is willing to put her morals aside, so they can rise is greatness and power. This line also represents that Macbeth is capable of ambition and lady Macbeth will go to all costs to achieve what she desires. Once Lady Macbeth brought Macbeth’s ambitious side out, he goes on to have the corrupting power of unchecked ambition. He is led down a negative path and his emotions become numb. He is unable to realize the pain he has caused to himself and others. It results in his death. Therefore, Shakespeare still has something to teach us because through Macbeth he teaches us that being overly ambitious can cause someone down a bad path like Macbeth, the corrupting power of being overly ambitious.

Shakespeare uses lady Macbeth to show the power of greed and how there are consequences to doing something malicious for greed/ personal gain “Hie thee hither, That I may pour my spirits in thine ear; And chastise with the velour of my tongue All that impedes thee from the golden round.” Lady Macbeth says these lines after receiving Macbeth’s letter on what the witches had told him. This line represents how lady Macbeth wants her husband to come home quickly to persuade him to go through with a malicious act so they can gain authority/ power. This proves that lady Macbeth wants power and everything that goes with it. Even though Lady Macbeth was initially greedier and more eager than Macbeth but then the consequence of her greed is that she quickly comes to regret the fulfillment of the prophecy and what they did to achieve their power. She begins a slow slide into madness. Ambition affects her more than Macbeth before the crime, and so does guilt, strongly afterward. By the end of the play, she has been sleepwalking through the castle, desperately trying to wash away an invisible bloodstain. Lady Macbeth’s sensitivity now becomes a weakness, and she is unable to cope. Significantly, she ends her life, signaling her inability to deal with their crimes.

Shakespeare is one of the greatest teachers because he uses themes and concepts to teach us morals and ethics. Shakespeare gives Macbeth a dominant subconscious to explore the power of guilt and how it can drive people insane. ’’Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold Thou hast no speculation in those eyes’’ this quote is from when Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost appear at the banquet. Macbeth’s vision of Banquo reveals that he has guilt over ordering the murder of Banquo and Fleance. His guilt is so powerful that becomes out of touch with reality. He says these lines to remind himself that Banquo is actually dead. By doing this it reveals the tormented consciousness and him losing a grip on his sanity. This is one of the final crimes he does where his subconscious reveals his guilt, after that crime he builds sociopathic tendencies to not feel empathy nor guilt. Shakespeare shows us the parallels of having guilt and empathy but how when sanity is lost it becomes harder to grip onto reality and how power can be so easily corrupted through the power of unchecked ambition. His guilt drove him to insanity and how he was no longer able to feel empathy and guilt due to this. Through this Shakespeare taught us the power of guilt and how it can drive someone to insanity.

We are still able to learn from literature and Shakespeare is one of the greatest teachers because he is able to relate real ideas and themes to life lessons and experiences, like through Macbeth he showed us the corrupting power of unchecked ambition. In William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” the main theme is that Shakespeare uses Macbeth to show the consequences of being overly ambitious. Shakespeare’s texts are still able to be relevant to today due to the use of universal themes and ideas that you are able to relate to real-life events. 

07 July 2022

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