The Impact Of Ambition On Macbeth And Lady Macbeth

Ambition is the desire to do or to achieve something, usually working in hand with determination and hard work. In Williams Shakespeare 's Macbeth, the characters Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have a strong desire to ascend to the throne and they are determined to do that using whatever means possible to achieve this goal, including deceiving and killing those who they are closest to. Ambition greatly affects both main characters in Macbeth in similar ways. Lady Macbeth shows how her great ambition to become queen causes her to experience a lack of moral ambiguity, something which always causes the downfall of its victims, and how that ambition leads Lady Macbeth to influence Macbeth to betray those he is closest to. The play continuously expresses the theme of power comes with great responsibility by also putting the two main characters in situations where there power causes something bad to happen to them. Their lack of moral ambiguity combined with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s total power caused them to lose sight of their responsibilities.

In the play, Lady Macbeth experiences a lack moral ambiguity once she learns that her husband, Macbeth will be king. She begins making rash decisions to speed up the process however, turning her into a sort of evil character and possible even the antagonist of this play. Lady Macbeth becomes impatient after Macbeth confronts her about the three witches and their prophecy, and Lady Macbeth springs into action, influencing Macbeth to plot Banquo’s murder. At first, Macbeth is reluctant because he is close to him. However, Lady Macbeth keeps pushing him to assassinate Banquo, showing her lack of moral ambiguity. She takes matters into her own hands, showing that Macbeth was not willing to betray his closest friends for the throne, and symbolizing that Lady Macbeth “wears the pants in their relationship.” Furthermore, Macbeth’s reluctance, and later carelessness, implies that Lady Macbeth influenced Macbeth greatly, causing him to shift his beliefs on what was right and wrong and turning him into a dynamic character. One particularly notable quote, Lady Macbeth is acting very manly for a Shakespearean women, “What beasts wasn 't then, that made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man, And to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man(1.7.53-58).” In this part of the play, Macbeth is being scolded by Lady Macbeth because he is too afraid to do the manly thing and take what he wants, he is putting up to Lady Macbeth to get him his throne, and she is calling him “womanly” which is strange because in this period of time, women were seen as submissive and men were the dominant force, however that is the opposite with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. These concepts of moral ambiguity and stereotypes of the old days can also be applied to the thematic significance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. A possible theme for this play is, that great power comes with great responsibility,this is very well portrayed through Lady Macbeth’s determination and ambition to become queen. Their power forces them to take responsibility for all the terrible things they did, and it makes them take responsibility for other people’s lives. Near the end, Lady Macbeth loses her morality and essentially realizes the terrible things she made her husband do. She goes insane with guilt, and becomes plagued with the knowledge that she caused their lives to end, Lady Macbeth finally realizes that their hunger for power caused everything to go wrong and that is why she ends up committing suicide. The play’s ending gives the message that one cannot simply have total power without knowing how to use it.

The role Macbeth plays in Shakespeare’s Macbeth stays relatively the same throughout the play script, however he can be classified as a dynamic character. Macbeth in the beginning of the play, is almost feminine, more so than Lady Macbeth. He is afraid to stand up for what he wants and take what is soon to be his, and Lady Macbeth almost has to compensate for that and talk to him like a child. Lady Macbeth influences Macbeth to become evil and follow his ambition, although it ultimately leads to their downfall. Macbeth soon becomes careless and lets his power blind him after Banquo is assassinated, as he shows when he says “things bad begun make themselves strong by ill.(3.2.59-60).” In modern language, Macbeth is essentially saying “the only way to make this right is to continue to attack.” This quote symbolizes Macbeth’s “turn to the dark side,” if you will. Throughout the play, Macbeth struggles with his moral ambiguity just like Lady Macbeth towards the end of the play because of the terrible crimes he and she had committed, that it has influenced Macbeth to let go and just try to achieve the throne in any wa possible. Additionally, Macbeth’s turn to the dark side can be applied to the greater theme of great power comes with great responsibility because Macbeth is at long last taking responsibility for his desire, and not forcing it upon Lady Macbeth to be the man in their relationship. Furthermore, Macbeth’s tactics of becoming king can also be seen as Machiavellian. Machiavelli proposed the concept of “the ends justify the means,” this meant that you should do whatever you deem necessary to reach your end goal. This tactic is a form of taking responsibility as well, because Macbeth is conquering his fears of being caught and has ceased to care what others think.

In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the main characters Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have severe changes in their ambition and the way it influences their decisions seals their fate. Their ambitions change because of the witches prophecy they told Macbeth and Banquo, and Lady Macbeth decides to tamper with the future. She alone, ultimately caused her downfall and her husband's downfall at the end of the play. Lady Macbeth’s actions speak to the theme of “with great power comes great responsibility” because although she took responsibility for her desire, she became impatient and then went about to do things that were not the responsible things to do, like plot murders of innocent people, their friends. In the modern world, this is also a problem. People tend to lose moral ambiguity and do not take responsibility for their actions, especially politicians as many of them use dirty tactics to gain power, just like Macbeth. This famous playwright has the potential to teach many about the dangers of ignorance, lack of moral ambiguity, power and responsibility. 

16 December 2021
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