Shakespeare’s representation of Macbeth’s ambition

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1035
Topics: Macbeth, Motivation, Plays, William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth,” written in 1606, is undoubtedly a world literature classic. The story about a man named Macbeth, a Scottish general, who develops an insane obsession with becoming the King, has caught the attention of thousands of bookworms throughout the centuries.

Dramatic writing is a prerequisite to a successful story

The main hook of Macbeth’s storyline lies in the corrupt nature of unhinged ambition, which is executed through the internal conflict between man’s ambitions and socially accepted morals. Shakespeare, the master of foreshadowing and dramatic irony, used these writing techniques to introduce even more dramatic scenes. Macbeth is easily one of the best dramatic stories in the literature.

Language devices used in the text allow the creation of imagery such as Hallucinations and soliloquies. Both techniques are essential to creating a meaningful demonstration of the metamorphosis that Macbeth’s character goes through because of his deep ambitions. Throughout the story, uncontrolled ambition is displayed as a dangerous quality, resulting in the downfall of both Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. Ambition becomes the play’s driving force, trying to warn every reader about its dangers.

Factors influencing Macbeth’s manic ambitions

Several factors become drivers of Macbeth’s uncontrolled ambition. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is illustrated as a loyal, strong, brave warrior who can use his impeccable skills and sharp mind to win a battle and bring victory to the motherland, Scotland. Shakespeare uses foreshadowing as a dramatic technique like a pro. For example, in the 1st scene of the 1st act, he holds the intrigue and allows the reader to speculate on what might occur later in the story. Bringing in the characters of the witches into the scene featuring the storm and predictions about Macbeth’s future allows the reader’s imagination to run wild. Later, when Macbeth thinks he can hear a voice from afar while taking Duncan’s life, it foreshadows insomnia that plagues Macbeth and his wife hence presenting the consequences of the insane ambition of the protagonist.

The impact of Lady Macbeth on the husband’s mindset

The author makes Lady Macbeth even more ambitious and morally compromised than her husband. The wife encourages Macbeth to overcome his strong sense of guilt and take decisive action on the prophecies. She knows how to push his buttons to get what she wants and insult the general’s manhood at the same time.

The result of Macbeth’s crimes

The irrational sense of unfulfilled ambitions causes the main character to get rid of many of his close friends, leading to his downfall. Macbeth first murders Duncan for selfish reasons. Dramatic irony steals the spotlight when Duncan arrives at Macbeth’s castle. He is complimenting the pleasantness of Macbeth’s castle while the audience clearly knows that that very night is the one when the King is going to die. Likewise, Macbeth orders his men to kill Banquo and his son, one of his closest friends, as he threatens the manic protagonist. Macbeth also arranges for the murder of Macduff’s entire family for his benefit. Therefore, the play suggests that the audience thinks about how it is difficult to stop when one decides to use violence to gain power. Overall, this thriving for power is the circumstance that starts snowballing right into Macbeth’s downfall.

The vivid image created by the Shakespeare

Language devices used by the author help to create a vivid image. Hallucinations play an essential part throughout the play; they warn against the possible dangers of unconscious ambition and provide an example of the mental effect this uncontrolled ambition has had on the character. When Macbeth is about to kill Duncan, he sees a dagger floating in the air. Covered in blood and pointing toward the King’s chamber, the dagger represents the cruel deed Macbeth is about to do.

Later, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost chilling in a chair at a feast. The ghost of Banquo warns Macbeth that his ambition has corrupted his morality. This ghost is the aftermath of Macbeth’s assassin of his closest friend.

Macbeth’s ambition eventually turns his advantage into his greatest weakness. Though he tries to repress this flaw for a long time, Macbeth is eventually overcome by it. While it is Macduff who eventually kills Macbeth, the ambitions are what drove the man insane on a bigger scale: there could be no life after that. Lady Macbeth is also mentally affected by the obsession with possible gains of the priorly unseen power. She sleepwalks and believes that her hands are stained with blood and cannot be washed away by any amount of water and soap.

Symbolism in the play

The symbols of hallucinations and blood are portrayed as supernatural signs leading to the downfall of Macbeth and his spouse. This mental instability drives Lady Macbeth to commit suicide due to her actions.

The characters’ words and actions don’t always express the people’s true colors. Their true nature is revealed only when thoughts are announced aloud. Shakespeare magnificently uses soliloquies to explain how ambitions led to Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s downfall. In the 7th scene of the 1 act, the main character is debating whether killing Duncan would be worth the hustle. He says: “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly. If the assassination could trammel up the consequence and catch with his surcease, success, that but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all.”

This monologue suggests that Macbeth is scared, almost as if he knew he would be unable to put up with the guilt his action caused him. Hence through the use of soliloquies, we see that Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s ambitions completely overthrow their reasoning abilities and eventually lead to their downfall.


In conclusion, the deaths of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were caused by their ambition, which is seen through how Shakespeare used dramatic techniques and language devices. Hence, this play is a warning against the dangers of ambition. Macbeth goes from a powerful and respected general to a desperate and insecure tyrant who is so insecure about his position that he has to get rid of even the slightest competition. Though healthy ambitions drive many people to accomplish great things in life, being overly ambitious may lead to one’s downfall and failure.

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