Macbeth: Unchecked Ambition Leads to Blindness Accomplishment Essay

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In Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth”, the eponymous protagonist is introduced as a great leader, the Thane of Glamis, who intently desires to protect his country of Scotland. After meeting with the Witches, Macbeth is informed that his fate is to be Thane of Cawdor and, later, King of Scotland. Because of Macbeth’s victories in battle, the current king of Scotland, Duncan, promotes him to be Thane of Cawdor, fulfilling the prophecy. However, as Macbeth tells the prophecies to his wife, Lady Macbeth, greedy to be the Queen, comes up with an idea which begins the tragedy: the best opportunity to obtain the throne is to murder Duncan during his visit at Macbeth’s castle.

Macbeth is convinced and his greed is aroused. As he continues with his murders, Macbeth transforms from being a leader to a follower whose tunnel vision leads him toward his only goal, becoming king. Macbeth’s ambition, once prompted by loyalty and love to his country, now turns into avarice that is blindly led by words from the Witches. Shakespeare uses Macbeth’s accomplishments, murders of the nobles, and his ultimate downfall to convey that ambition with good intent brings glory and success, but if only driven by self-interest, it ruins a person.

In the beginning, Macbeth is seeing as a hero where his ambition is not for himself but to protect his country. After the battle with Ireland and Norway, worried Duncan seeks knowledge about the result. The Captain of his army explains, “But all’s too weak;/ For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name),/ Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,/ Which smoked with bloody execution,/ … carved out his passage/ … Till he unseamed [Macdonwald] from the nave to th’ chops,/And fixed his head upon our battlements” (1.2.17-25).

Macbeth fights bravely against the king’s rivals and slaughters the traitorous Macdonwald. The Captain implies that Fortune is smiling towards the enemies, but Macbeth does not care whether he is destined to win or lose and fights until he wins. He is in control of himself regardless of what fate brings. His ambition in protecting his country empowers him to strike through all difficulties. Because Macbeth’s ambition is not focused on himself, he accomplishes great things.

However, when the prophecy comes around, Macbeth transfers his ambition to his own interest. He stops focusing on doing good for his people and fights only for himself. He slaughters his people who are in his way of obtaining the throne, becoming the slave of the prophecy and Lady Macbeth. Macbeth at first does not want to kill Duncan because he values him as an honorable king, but as soon as Lady Macbeth convinces him with the prophecy, he goes against his moral code. As Lady Macbeth rings the bell signifying the time to murder, Macbeth speaks, “The bell invites me./ Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell/ That summons thee to heaven or to hell” (2.1.75-77). After the success in his acquisition, Macbeth continues to pursue the seeming shortcut: murder the nobles who pose a danger towards his throne, instead of working loyally to earn his power.

As the play progresses, he becomes more ruthless to his people. He reasons that “[he is] in blood stepped in so far” and cannot stop because “should [he] wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er” (3.4.142-144). Macbeth cannot stop himself as he continues the slaughter. His tone presents no sign of regret. Even Lady Macbeth has a remorseful feeling for what she and Macbeth have done. She admits that “nought’s had, all’s spent, where [their] desire is got without content” (3.2.6-7), but Macbeth is only focused on his path to the throne. As a result of his tunnel vision, Macbeth’s mind has become “full of scorpions” (3.2.36). Although he knows his fate, Macbeth is no longer in control of his own destiny. He is physically and spiritually consumed by his prophesied fate as he can sacrifice everything for it.

Instead of securing the throne, Macbeth’s blindness to the reality leads to his own death. The Witches, realizing Macbeth only cares about himself, present him with a false sense of safety that “none of woman born/ Shall harm Macbeth” (4.1.91-92) and “until/ Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/ Shall come against him” (4.1.105-107). At present, Macbeth loses the skepticism that he once had towards the truthfulness of the prophecies and simply believes everything from the Witches. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth’s suicide symbolizes Macbeth’s metamorphosed internal state where his ambition in securing the undeserved power completely takes over his love towards his country and family.

Due to his false sense of safety and blindness to reality, Macbeth’s unpreparedness leads to his death as Macduff, a Scottish noble whose family has been killed by Macbeth, beheads him: “Hail, king! For so thou art. Behold where stands/ Th’ usurper’s cursed head” (5.8.65-66). Macbeth’s total reliance towards everything the Witches tell him fosters his hubris as he is unaware of the approaching danger. This ends the play with an irony where it begins with Macbeth being well-prepared for battles and ends with his death due to his lost judgment towards the reality.

Macbeth stops his glory as a selfless, brave hero when he decides to kill Duncan. At the end of the play, Macbeth’s total destruction in his moral code reflects his death as a relief to both himself and Scotland. Ambition should always be examined by one’s moral value in order for discipline to be maintained. With an ambition prompted by love and loyalty, Macbeth wins the battle against strong rivals and earns his deserved promotion. With an ambition focused on self-benefit, Macbeth loses his moral standard, destroys his glory, and ultimately ends the play with his own death.


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Macbeth: Unchecked Ambition Leads to Blindness Accomplishment Essay. (2021, Apr 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/macbeth-unchecked-ambition-leads-to-blindness/

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