macbeth thesis ambition

William Shakespeare

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Macbeth is a play about ambition run amok. The weird sisters ' prophecies spur both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to try to fulfill their ambitions, but the witches never make Macbeth or his wife do anything. Macbeth and his wife act on their own to fulfill their deepest desires. Macbeth, a good general and, by all accounts before the action of the play, a good man, allows his ambition to overwhelm him and becomes a murdering, paranoid maniac. Lady Macbeth, once she begins to put into actions the once-hidden thoughts of her mind, is crushed by guilt.

Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth want to be great and powerful, and sacrifice their morals to achieve that goal. By contrasting these two characters with others in the play, such as Banquo , Duncan , and Macduff , who also want to be great leaders but refuse to allow ambition to come before honor, Macbeth shows how naked ambition, freed from any sort of moral or social conscience, ultimately takes over every other characteristic of a person. Unchecked ambition, Macbeth suggests, can never be fulfilled, and therefore quickly grows into a monster that will destroy anyone who gives into it.

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Understanding Macbeth's Ambition

An Analysis of Ambition in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'

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Ambition is the driving force of William Shakespeare's tragedy " Macbeth ." More specifically, it is about ambition that goes unchecked by any concept of morality; this is why it becomes a dangerous quality. Macbeth’s ambition inspires most of his actions, and that results in the deaths of numerous characters and the ultimate downfall of both himself and Lady Macbeth.

The Sources of Ambition in 'Macbeth'

Macbeth’s ambition is driven by a number of factors. For one, he has a deep internal desire for power and advancement. However, that is not exactly why he turns to crime. It takes two outside forces to ignite this hunger and push him to take violent action to obtain power.

  • Prophecies: Throughout the play, the Macbeth witches make a number of prophecies, including that Macbeth will become king. Macbeth believes them each time, and often uses the predictions to decide his next actions, such as killing Banquo. While the prophecies always turn out to be true, it is unclear whether they are preordained instances of fate or self-fulfilling via the manipulation of characters like Macbeth.
  • Lady Macbeth : The witches may have planted the initial seed in Macbeth’s mind to act on his ambition, but his wife is the one who pushes him to murder. Lady Macbeth’s persistence encourages Macbeth to put aside his guilt and kill Duncan, telling him to focus on his ambition, not his conscience.

Controlling Ambition

Macbeth’s ambition soon spirals out of control and forces him to murder again and again to cover up his previous wrongdoings. His first victims of this are the chamberlains who are framed by Macbeth for the murder of King Duncan and killed as “punishment.”

Later in the play, Macbeth’s fear of Macduff incites him to pursue not only Macduff but also his family. The unnecessary murder of Lady Macduff and her children are the clearest example of Macbeth losing control over his ambition.

Balancing Ambition and Morality

We also see a more honorable take on ambition in "Macbeth." To test Macduff’s loyalty, Malcolm pretends to be greedy, lustful, and power-hungry. When Macduff responds by condemning him and crying out for the future of Scotland under such a king, he shows his allegiance to the country and refusal to submit to tyrants. This reaction from Macduff, along with Malcolm's choosing to test him in the first place, demonstrates that moral code in positions of power is more important than the ambition to get there, especially blind ambition.

Consequences

The consequences of ambition in “Macbeth” are dire—not only are a number of innocent people killed, but Macbeth’s life also ends with him being known as a tyrant, a significant downfall from the noble hero he begins as.

Most importantly, Shakespeare gives neither Macbeth nor Lady Macbeth the opportunity to enjoy what they have gained—perhaps suggesting that it is more satisfying to achieve your goals fairly than acquire them through corruption.

Does Violent Ambition End With Macbeth?

At the end of the play, Malcolm is the victorious king and Macbeth’s burning ambition has been extinguished. But is this really the end to over-reaching ambition in Scotland? The audience is left to wonder if Banquo’s heir will eventually become king as prophesied by the trio of witches. If so, will he act on his own ambition to make this happen, or will fate play a part in realizing the prophecy?

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macbeth thesis ambition

For a more detailed exploration ambition in Macbeth have a read of this...

Ambition is generally considered to be one of them main themes of macbeth. most sites list ambition as being macbeth's hamartia - which is the weakness that causes someone's downfall. sparknotes , describes it like this:, "the main theme of macbeth—the destruction wrought when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints —finds its most powerful expression in the play’s two main characters. macbeth is a courageous scottish general who is not naturally inclined to commit evil deeds, yet he deeply desires power and advancement .", it goes on to say:, "although he is encouraged by the witches, macbeth’s true downfall is his own ambition . lady macbeth is as ambitious as her husband, encouraging him to commit murder to achieve their goals.", you'll find variants of this idea on most websites and in most interpretations of the play. controversially, i'm offering another reading of the play. you can take it or leave it, or - if you're smart enough - you'll just be able to offer this as one interpretation, while appreciating that there can be others., and remember that any interpretation of the play is fine as long as it is backed up with evidence from the text., my argument in a nutshell:, macbeth wasn't ambitious the throne, but was the victim of a magic spell that made him want to kill duncan. the witches planted the idea into his head - almost like he gets possessed - and the play isn't actually about macbeth's ambition at all, but a quite misogynistic play that warns the audience about the dangers of witchcraft., macbeth at the opening of the play, you never get a second chance to make a first impression; that's good advice. and it's never more important than for a writer of fiction. the first impression we get of a character sets their story in motion; we're going to make all our judgements of them based on what is established about them at the beginning of a story. it's also worth bearing in mind that shakespeare could have started this story anywhere, with macbeth doing anything., as it happens, the first time we encounter macbeth it's through a story told by a sergeant about how macbeth has almost single-handedly won a battle in support of duncan. from an audience's point of view, this says a few key things about macbeth: he's brave, he's tough, he's a perfect macho hero. but, most importantly, shakespeare establishes that macbeth is loyal to duncan. and there's a few key quotes that confirm this:, brave macbeth, well he deserves that name : this quote establishes macbeth as a real jacobean hero - the name here refers to a title, as though he's become sir macbeth, or lord macbeth; but in this case it's brave macbeth. names and titles were very important to jacobean men - your name was in many ways your most sacred possession., his sword smoked with bloody execution : alongside making it clear that macbeth's blade was moving so quickly it caused smoke, this quote establishes that macbeth is a killer but not a murderer: he's an executioner. this means he kills with the king's law on his side and establishes that, at this stage in the play, he is definitely fighting for duncan., he carved his passage : this is interesting as it suggests that macbeth isn't someone who's easily led astray. given the fact that he ends up killing duncan against his wishes this seems strange - unless there's something more at play than simple persuasion. this would seem strange except that the people doing the persuading are actual magical witches (and his wife, who's probably a witch as well), disdaining fortune : again, this is interesting: the phrase suggests that macbeth "disdains" - which means doesn't like, or dismisses - "fortune." here, fortune could mean money, which suggests he wouldn't kill duncan for cash; or "fortune" could mean fate or prophecy - which suggests that he isn't the kind of guy to be led astray by something as simple as a prophecy. but was there more to the prophecy than just a suggestion, and is this really saying that even someone as brave and independent as macbeth could be led astray when magic is involved., bellona's bridegroom : this is a great, and often under-appreciated image. bellona was the wife of mars, who was the roman god of war. so in this image, ross is comparing macbeth to mars, the god of war. however, here, macbeth isn't the focus of the image, bellona is - the wife of mars. in a wonderfully subtle way, shakespeare is reminded us that even here - in his moment of triumph - macbeth is playing second-fiddle to the really violent psychopath in the play: his wife, i have won golden opinions of late : here, macbeth is talking about his rise to the position of thane of cawdor. he's clearly proud of what he's won, and doesn't want anymore. this line comes just after he's said that he doesn't want to kill duncan and is a pretty clear sign that he's "not without ambition" but isn't drowning in a sea of it, macbeth meets the witches, during the opening of the play, macbeth is presented as being fiercely loyal to duncan, but by the end of act 1 scene 3 he's thinking of killing duncan and stealing the throne. so something must have changed during this scene. there are two obvious answers here:, a) the witches awoke his own desire; or, b) he was placed under the influence of a magic spell., macbeth: so fair and foul a day i have not seen : macbeth's first line in the play paraphrases (which means almost quotes) the witches' chant from the opening. surely this is shakespeare suggesting that he's already under their influence, banquo: why do you seem to fear things which do sound so fair : here, banquo is describing macbeth's reactions to what the witches have said, which begs the question: if macbeth had wanted to be king, why did he "fear" the witches' words this seems more like the reactions of someone who didn't want to be king - a fact that fits much more neatly with the character we've heard about up to this point., macbeth: to be king stands not within the prospect of belief : macbeth clearly doesn't think it's possible to be king, so can he really be described as being ambitious for the throne also, this line suggests that being king isn't something he's ever really thought of before and so it doesn't make sense to say that he was ambitious for the throne before this scene., banquo: look how my partner's rapt : to be "rapt" by something was to be lost in a kind of religious trace - the phrase comes from the rapture. just after macbeth hears what the witches say banquo says that he becomes "rapt" - is this shakespeare describing someone going through a kind of possession this is the moment when the witches take control., macbeth: the thought of murder "shakes so my single state of man that function of smothered" : this is macbeth saying that the thought of killing duncan is so abhorrent to his masculinity that he thinks he won't be able to do it., macbeth: if chance will have me crowned, why then chance can crown me without my stir : this comes at the end of the scene, and it's basically macbeth saying 'oh well, if i'm meant to be king i guess it'll happen but i'm not doing anything about it.' whatever else you can say about his ambition, it definitely isn't very strong., looking back over those lines, we see someone who hadn't thought of being king before, who gets lost in some kind of religious trance - after having met some witches on a heath - that he then starts thinking of doing something that he find horrible. reflecting on that, it's worth comparing this line to the comment from sparknotes at the top of the page where they claim that macbeth "deeply desires power" and that his ambition "goes unchecked" (which means his ambition is out of control.), so here we have someone who "deeply desires power" and yet has never thought that being king is possible; and whose ambition is out of control and yet who says he'll do nothing about it. it's difficult to see where sparknotes are getting their ideas from..., the most important line in the play, according to my reading of the play, macbeth wasn't particularly ambitious for the throne and yet, during act 1 scene 3, he started to think about killing duncan. what happened there for me the answer lies in two words from this speech., after he hears what the witches have to say, he says:, " why do i yield to that suggestion, whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, and make my seated heart knock at my ribs,, against the use of nature", in a nutshell, this means: why i am i giving in to something that makes my hair stand up in horror, and my heart start to race in an uncomfortable way - and which is, most importantly: against my very nature., so, in this short speech, he says that the idea of killing duncan makes him so scared that his hair stands up and his heart races, and is against his very nature - the most fundamental part of who he is. he's basically saying why is he starting to want to do this thing, but the key words here are "yield" and "suggestion." and the fundamental question is: can you "yield" to a "suggestion" that has come from yourself, it's worth just clarifying what these words mean:, yield : to give way to arguments, demands, or pressure., suggestion : an idea or plan put forward for consideration., so: can you "give way to an argument, demand or pressure" and agree to "an idea or plan put forward for consideration" if that plan was your own, surely you can only "give in" to an "idea" that has come from someone else... and if that's the case then the idea of killing duncan didn't come from macbeth - it came from the witches., and if that's the case, then the entire play takes on a completely different meaning., lady macbeth, lady macbeth is not like her husband. she is very ambitious and shakespeare makes this clear right from the off., during the opening 4 scenes in the play, we see macbeth fight himself to the position of thane of cawdor - which was one of the highest positions in the scottish nobility. however, as soon as lady macbeth appears on stage she starts worrying that he's not got what it takes to be really ambitious. it's a bit like seeing someone who's just played the best game in footballing history, and won the armband to be captain of liverpool; but their wife starts complaining that they're not really ambitious as they're not captain of england too., her exact words are that macbeth is "not without ambition, but without the illness that would attend it." some people have argued that this line suggests that macbeth is ambitious, but the line "art not without ambition" isn't quite that. if i say my friend is coming to play football next week, and someone asks if they're any good and i say: "well, they're not not good" you should probably manage your expectations regarding how good they actually are. in many ways, this is really lady macbeth saying that, in fact, he's not really that ambitious at all., when macbeth arrives on stage a few moments later there is a very telling exchange: lady macbeth greets her husband with a long list of his titles, but macbeth greets his wife by calling her "my dearest love." from this brief exchange, their first on stage, it would seem that macbeth loves his wife, while she sees him as a means to success. it is absolutely true that women in jacobean england weren't supposed to be ambitious for anything themselves; women achieved success if their husbands did, which means that for lady macbeth to achieve her own ambitions she has to motivate her husband., when thinking about the plot to kill duncan, it is definitely worth remembering lady macbeth's role in it: she suggested it, she planned it, and she made sure it was carried out effectively. the only thing she didn't do, in fact, was kill duncan herself., despite getting what she's always wanted, lady macbeth doesn't seem very happy. she doesn't have a moment where she celebrates what she's won, and the only real lines she has directly to the audience have her expressing some dismay and discomfort at what she has won. she admits that she got her "desire" but says it comes without her feeling "content." eventually, this dissatisfaction catches up with her and she starts sleepwalking, riddled with guilt. it seems that she cannot escape what she has done, which is a shame as she didn't even seem to enjoy it while she had it, art not without ambition - here lady macbeth confirms that her husband has some ambition, but probably not loads. he's not without ambition, but that isn't how you'd describe someone who was drowning in it, come you spirits - perhaps lady macbeth's real ambitions stretch as far as ordering the spirits around she certainly won't draw any lines underneath what she wants to achieve, including, where necessary, enlisting the help of the supernatural., unsex me here - this is one of the most misunderstood lines in macbeth. a lot of people talk about lady macbeth wanting to become more masculine here in order that she can seize power. however, the reality of the masculine codes of loyalty meant that it wouldn't have been possible for her to kill duncan while remaining 'masculine.' here, she asks to have gender removed entirely - so she's not constrained by feminine or masculine codes - and this would have made her able to kill duncan and seize the throne., my dearest love - lady macbeth lists macbeth's titles when she meets him, he simply calls her "my dearest love." this shows that she's interested in his position, while he just loves her. it's interesting though as he calls her "dear" or "dearest" four times in the play, and something that is "dear" is precious, but "dear" also means expensive. and it is certainly true that lady macbeth's ambitions for the throne became very expensive for macbeth., what beast was't that made you break this enterprise to me - lady macbeth says this to macbeth while they're arguing about whether to kill duncan. here, she's doing something called gaslighting him, which means she's claiming he's said something that he hadn't actually said. in fact, killing duncan was lady macbeth's idea - she's the ambitious one after all., nought's had, all's spent where desire's got without content - this comes from act 3 scene 2, which is a great scene when looking at how the macbeth's felt while they were on the throne. lady macbeth seems disappointed. she says that they've got nothing ("nought") but spent everything, and have for their "desire" but are not "content." she's basically a bit gutted that she's got what she wanted but isn't happy... but maybe sometimes that's the way with ambition - you can never really have enough.

macbeth thesis ambition

Unchecked Ambition in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” Research Paper

Throughout human history, people tend to be corrupted by taking determinations beyond their limits. In his book “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Alexandre Dumas asserts that “…virtues are good, but some virtues tend to become crimes if taken to the extreme” (Meyer 124). The meaning of this phrase is that humans tend to be corrupted by extreme or unchecked ambition.

According to Stuntz (443), the term ‘unchecked ambition’ refers to the excessive, extreme or uncontrollable desire for success, power or wealth.it is the hunger or greediness for achieving more than what someone has. According to Mahatma Gandhi, there are two kinds of power- power based on the fear of punishment and power based on love (Low and Cheng 244). The power based on an act of love is effective and permanent, while the power based on the fear of punishment is transient and ineffective (Cohn 51).

Humans tend to develop unchecked ambition because they have power based on the fear of being punished. This seems to be the main theme in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Throughout the play, Macbeth, a war hero, develops power based on the fear of being punished, which leads to unchecked ambition. Arguably, Macbeth’s justification of war is the desire for victory, which makes him appear a brave and dedicated soldier in the eyes of people like Duncan, but his ambition for more political power and success drives him towards destruction of the kingdom.

Macbeth is a decorated war hero, a Scottish soldier in the royal army. He achieves the title of a general in the army, but he is naturally not inclined to commit evils against people. He seems to be committed to his work in the military. However, he has a strong desire for advancing his powers and achievements.

It is clear that Macbeth’s desires for higher achievements are not a product of his natural character. The three witches who meet and give him the prophecy of becoming a king one day instill fear in him. After realizing that most of the things predicted by the three witches were real, he develops the fear of failing to fulfill the prophecy.

He is also afraid of the failure to do what the witches have predicted. At this point, it becomes evident that the society, in general, has both evil and good individuals, but the power of the evil individuals is responsible for corruption the good morals in people (Cohn 56). Therefore, the three witches instill fear, which drives Macbeth towards acting against his morals. He develops power based on fear, which amounts to unchecked ambitions.

Secondly, Macbeth’s wife contributes to the husband’s development of power based on fear. She realizes that Macbeth is living in fear of being punished if he fails to fulfill the prophecy of the three witches. Also, she realizes that it is difficult for Macbeth to wait until society crowns him as the king. Therefore, she takes advantage of the husband’s state of fear to convince him to take action against his morals.

Due to the fear of being punished, Macbeth’s develops the desire to achieve the predicted status. His fear should be understood from the context of its origin. It is clear that Macbeth, despite being a dedicated, brave, and fearless soldier, he has a major weakness- he is easily convinced. For instance, when he met the three witches, he was returning from a victorious battle, accompanied by Banquo. Both men are given prophecies.

Apart from informing Macbeth that he would be the king, the three witches also hail him as the thane of Glamis and “Cawdor,” yet he was not the Cawdor at the time. Also, the three witches tell Banquo that his children will be the future kings. While Banquo is less convinced by these prophesies, Macbeth seems to believe in every world of the witches.

Banquo warns him that “witches always tell half-truths.” Banquo seems morally stronger than Macbeth. He does not develop fear and seems to be logical. Although the witches’ prophesy of Macbeth becoming the “Cawdor” was fulfilled within a few minutes after meeting the witches, Macbeth and Banquo develop different attitudes towards the witches.

While Macbeth seems to be convinced after Ross and Angus deliver him the promotion message from King Duncan, Banquo seems to be cautious with the witches’ message. He tells Macbeth that the evils will always tell half-truths to “win over humans.” On the other hand, Macbeth’s good character and morals are under the threat of the evils of the three witches.

Macbeth ignores Banquo’s warning and starts a long journey of a fearful character. Towards the end of Act 1 scene 3, the audience is introduced to Macbeth’s changing self. He ignores the companionship of fellow soldiers Banquo, Ross, and Angus, opting to speak to himself. The audience observes Macbeth wondering whether his rein will survive or will simply fall. At this point, it is evident that Macbeth’s good morals and character are on their way towards destruction by the evils perpetrated by the three witches.

In act 4, scene 1, the audience is introduced to the relationship between the king and his generals, especially Macbeth. It is clear that the relationship between the two is good and relatively strong. For instance, the king decides to dine at Macbeth’s home. At this point, the scenes and conversation during the dinner reveal that Macbeth has almost forgotten the messages of the witches. For example, he is happy when King Duncan informs them of his decision to make his son Malcolm the king after his death.

However, in Act 1, scenes 1 to 4, the audience is introduced to Macbeth’s increasing fear and the developing desire to be the king. After the Duncan says that his wish is to make Malcolm the new king, Macbeth realizes that he stands no chance to become the king. His desire to achieve his dreams is strong. It appears that the desire to be the king overrides his loyalty to the king and the nation.

Despite having a good relationship with the king and his family, Macbeth realizes that his desire to be the king cannot be achieved because Malcolm stands between him and kingship. Shakespeare uses these scenes to describe the reawakening of the witches’ influence on Macbeth and the progressive development of fear and the desire to overcome it through taking a step to ensure that Malcolm is not made the king (Ramsey 285).

As these scenes progress, it becomes evident that Macbeth has even started thinking of a conspiracy to satisfy his desires. He realizes that there is no other way to fulfill the prophecy except using force to remove the current king from the throne and preventing Malcolm from ascending the throne. Despite being a morally straight soldier, Macbeth allows the desire to drive his thoughts.

The audience is introduced to the dilemma facing Macbeth. Macbeth’s reaction to the prophecy seems to be a fundamental point of dilemma. He is confused and inactivated. He has two options.

The first option is to ignore the witches’ prophecy and remain faithful to the king. However, taking this option would have resulted in a possible punishment by the gods or evils that had sent the three witches. Macbeth’s second option is to take the evil action of murdering the king and please the gods and their agents. However, taking this option would result in sin and corrupt of his morals.

Nevertheless, the most important force in determining Macbeth’s choice is the strong desire of being the king. He has already developed a belief that he will soon be the king. He even starts thinking about how he will do become a strong and successive king. The ambition is too strong that it overrides the good morals in Macbeth (Ciobanu 37). Therefore, he resolves to kill the king and assume power.

Uncontrolled ambition is not only seen in Macbeth’s character. His wife is a significant person in his life. Once Macbeth informs her of the witches’ message, she immediately develops a strong desire to be the queen. She appears to be a wicked individual. Some scholars have argued that Shakespeare must have used Lady Macbeth and the three witches to show how women are easily used by the evil spirits to execute their evil deeds on earth (Cohn 54).

It is evident that the ambition to be the next queen makes Lady Macbeth forgets the good relationship between them and the King’s family. She also forgets how King Duncan has regarded Macbeth and his family. Also, she fails to consider the reaction of the other soldiers when Macbeth goes on to kill the king (Ramsey 288).

Her desire is only to be the queen, regardless of the consequences of the husband’s action. In fact, unlike Macbeth, she does not experience a dilemma because she seems not to have an alternative thought. The only option available for her is to convince Macbeth that the only way to become the king is to kill Duncan.

The strong ambition to achieve the dream of being the king further overrides the warming Macbeth receives in a dream. Shakespeare uses this dream to show the possible outcomes of Macbeth’s action. In a dream, Macbeth has a vision of a bloody dagger. It is an indication that killing the king will not be the end of a bloody scene (Cohn 58). Macbeth ignored this warning, especially because his wife’s desire to be the queen seems to be stronger than his ambitions.

It is also worth noting that once a good individual is driven by the uncontrolled ambition to take an evil act, a consequence of other evils will result as he or she attempts to justify the initial action.

In this case, Macbeth decides to kill other individuals to justify his action of killing the king. In the morning after he stabs King Duncan, Macbeth realizes that the only way to conceal the secret of his action is to kill any other individual who may have witnessed the action. Thus, the strong desire to be the king forces him to kill the king’s two chamberlains, believing that they were the remaining obstacles between him and the kingship.

Soon after becoming the King, Macbeth’s desire to remain the king forever forces him to do more evils. The effect of the witches is seen throughout the play. For instance, he remembered that the witches had predicted that Banquo’s sons and grandsons would be the future kings. This means that Macbeth’s reign and those of his sons are under the threat of Banquo’s descendants. Thus, he decides to eliminate his friend Banquo. This is a further indication of the growing ambitions in Macbeth.

Also, Macbeth develops a new desire- the desire to maintain his reign forever. He resolves to seek guidance from the witches and other evils spirits. The consequences are serial murders as Macbeth kills anybody he thinks will become the king in the future.

Thus, it is clear that Macbeth’s good character has been destroyed by his desire to achieve more than what he already has. Macbeth’s actions confirm Alexandre Dumas’ assertion that “…virtues are good, but some virtues tend to become crimes if taken to the extreme” (Meyer 124). Thus, Macbeth’s justification of war is the desire for victory, which makes him appear a brave and dedicated soldier in the eyes of people like Duncan, but his ambition for more political power and success drives him towards destruction of the kingdom.

Works Cited

Ciobanu, Elena. ““Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair”: the poetics of evil in Macbeth by William Shakespeare.” Interstudia (Revista Centrului Interdisciplinar de Studiu al Formelor Discursive Contemporane Interstud) 9 (2011): 26-24. Print.

Cohn, Ruby. “Shakespeare Left.” Theatre Journal 3.2 (2005): 48-60. Print

Low, Patrick and Kim Cheng. “Leading, the Mahatma Gandhi Way.” Leadership & Organizational Management Journal 2010.2 (2010): 237-249. Print

Meyer, Linda Ross. “The new revenge and the old retribution: Insights from Monte Cristo.” Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 31 (2003): 119-142. Print

Ramsey, Jarold. “The Perversion of Manliness in Macbeth.” Studies in English Literature , 1500-1900 (1973): 285-300. Print

Stuntz, William J. “Virtues and Vices of the Exclusionary Rule”. Harv. JL & Pub. Pol’y 20 (2006): 443. Print.

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Bibliography

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Plays — Macbeth Ambition

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Essays on Macbeth Ambition

Hook examples for macbeth ambition essays, anecdotal hook.

Picture a man driven to the brink of madness by his insatiable ambition, a descent into darkness fueled by power. This is the tragic tale of Macbeth.

Question Hook

What happens when ambition blinds one to the consequences of their actions? Macbeth's journey from a valiant warrior to a ruthless tyrant poses this thought-provoking question.

Quotation Hook

"I dare do all that may become a man; who dares do more is none." — Macbeth. Explore the depths of ambition through the words of Shakespeare's iconic character.

Statistical or Factual Hook

Ambition is a central theme in Shakespeare's "Macbeth," a tragedy first performed in 1606. Its exploration of ambition's consequences remains relevant to this day.

Definition Hook

What defines the ambition that leads to greatness or destruction? "Macbeth" serves as a literary mirror reflecting the complexities of this human trait.

Rhetorical Question Hook

Can ambition be both a driving force and a destructive obsession? The story of Macbeth and his unrelenting ambition provides a compelling answer.

Historical Hook

Step into the world of medieval Scotland, where ambition for power and titles was a constant struggle. Explore the historical context that influenced Shakespeare's play.

Contrast Hook

Contrast the noble aspirations of Macbeth at the beginning of the play with the ruthless ambition that consumes him. The transformation is a testament to the play's exploration of ambition.

Narrative Hook

Embark on Macbeth's journey from a loyal subject to a paranoid ruler. His narrative is a cautionary tale of ambition's perilous path.

Shocking Statement Hook

Prepare to witness a descent into madness and moral decay as Macbeth's ambition spirals out of control. The consequences are as shocking as they are tragic.

Macbeth: an Analytical of Ambition and Its Consequences

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Macbeth Theme: The Role of Ambitions in Poem

The influence of ambitions in macbeth, the basic elements of ambition and evil in the story of macbeth by william shakespeare, the dangers of ambition in william shakespeare's macbeth, let us write you an essay from scratch.

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How Ambition Drives Macbeth into Downfall in Shakespeare’s Play

Ambition and power in shakespeare’s macbeth, the effects of uncontrolled ambition in shakespeare's macbeth, the impact of ambition on people in shakespeare’s lady macbeth, get a personalized essay in under 3 hours.

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The Power Ambition Has Over Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Play

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William Shakespeare

"I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’ other." With this phrase, Macbeth makes it clear that he is aware of the power of ambition, which can make people rush and make mistakes. He clearly states his lack of motivation and does not deny the fact that now he is driven only by ambition.

The main theme of Macbeth is the destruction that occurs in a person because of his ambition. Ambition makes the protagonist overstep moral principles, which ultimately makes him even more paranoid and anxious.

1. LOWRANCE, B. (2012). “MODERN ECSTASY”: “MACBETH” AND THE MEANING OF THE POLITICAL. ELH, 79(4), 823–849. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/23356185) 2. Zambrano, A. L. (1974). Throne of Blood": Kurosawa's" Macbeth. Literature/Film Quarterly, 2(3), 262-274. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/43795658) 3. Smidt, K. (1969). Two aspects of ambition in Elizabethan tragedy: Doctor Faustas and Macbeth. English Studies, 50(1-6), 235-248. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00138386908597335?journalCode=nest20) 4. Carlisle, C. J. (1983). Helen Faucit's Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare Studies, 16, 205. (https://www.proquest.com/openview/f32bc8310f2789df4e15d81ed2db2a4b/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1819311) 5. McPherson, H. (2000). Masculinity, Femininity, and the Tragic Sublime: Reinventing Lady Macbeth. Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 29(1), 299-333. (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/1/article/267252/summary) 6. Draper, J. W. (1941). Lady Macbeth. Psychoanalytic Review, 28(4), 479-486. (https://pep-web.org/browse/document/PSAR.028.0479A) 7. Williams, E. W. (1973). In Defense of Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare Quarterly, 24(2), 221-223. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2868860) 8. Alfar, C. L. (1998). 'Blood will have blood:'Power, Performance, and Lady Macbeth's Gender Trouble. Jx: A Journal in Culture and Criticism, 2(2), 179-207. (https://hcommons.org/deposits/item/mla:931/) 9. Reyes, C., & Kenny, A. (2020). Shakespeare's Violent Women: A Feminist Analysis Of Lady Macbeth. UC Riverside Undergraduate Research Journal, 14(1). (https://escholarship.org/uc/item/43v335x5) 10. Gerwig, G. W. (2002). Lady Macbeth. Shakespearean Criticism, 69. (https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1420046125&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=08839123&p=LitRC&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7E194c4eda)

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macbeth thesis ambition

Mr Salles Teaches English

macbeth thesis ambition

Grade 9 Essay: How does Shakespeare present the theme of ambition in the play?

What is the shortest essay which can get full marks.

macbeth thesis ambition

I’m writing a guide to how to write essays at each grade for Macbeth. My Ultimate Guide to Macbeth shows you how to understand the whole play, scene by scene, to above grade 9. It also shows you how to write about each scene at grades 6, 7, 8, 9 and beyond grade 9.

I’ve written over 20 guides and it is the best guide I have ever written.

But, what if you are a student who just wants a grade 5, or just wants a grade 7, or you want a grade 9, but you want it as quickly as possible. You don’t want to read an Ultimate Guide to Macbeth - that’s going to have a lot of Mr Salles brilliance in it but, no offence Mr Salles, English isn’t even in my top 5 subjects.

I want the maximum marks, with the minimum effort.

So, that’s why I’m writing a series of new guides, showing you ‘just’ what you need for each grade, and no more.

How I wrote the essays in the essay writing guide (out in September)

I found all the essays I could which had been marked by a senior examiner.

I rewrote them, changing all the words, but keeping every idea and technique, and every quote.

Then I counted the features of each essay. Exam criteria are vague and open to interpretation. So I wondered, are there features of each essay I can count, which are not open to interpretation? And then, if we do count these features, will they predict the right mark?

Let’s find out.

This is an extract from the guide. Normally, my comments, and the examiner comments, follow the essay. Here, I have put the comments first so you can see what the examiner is looking for before you read the essay.

Response 24

Thesis Statement Yes Explanations 9 Quotes 5 Named Methods 5 Society/era/patriarchal/Jacobean/contemporary/ historical reference etc 3 Shakespeare 4 Exploratory Could, Might, May, Perhaps, Probably 0 Conclusion Yes Paragraphs 7

My Comments

Well, well, well. I was not expecting that mark. (It scored 25/30).

It doesn’t have anywhere near the number of references or quotations I was expecting for AO1.

It introduces the idea that ambition will affect ‘reason’, but never actually proves it –there are many easy examples and quotes revealing the mental state of Macbeth – is this a dagger, murdered sleep, never shake they gory locks, my mind is full of scorpions etc - and Lady Macbeth sleepwalking. The original essay included mistakes in identifying adverbs and nouns, which I’ve got rid of, because even naming them correctly adds no marks. There is very little context used to back up interpretations.

So, what has impressed the examiner?

There are both a thesis statement and a conclusion, so it becomes a well-constructed argument. The student has quoted from the end of the play right at the beginning, to show that they are dealing with the whole text. Although they don’t give many examples from the rest of the play, they do move through it chronologically, so it is a well-constructed argument. This, and very specific language to describe it, helps the student look at Macbeth’s character arc, his ‘journey’, showing how Macbeth changes. The answer looks at the structure of the play in two ways. First by viewing Macbeth’s life in two parts – a rise and fall. Secondly, by exploring Banquo as the antithesis to Macbeth in his ambition. These two ideas mark the answer out as thoughtful and different from most students’ essays.

Examiner Comments

The answer focuses on ambition right from the start and with every point. The thesis statement and next paragraph make it clear that the student is dealing with the whole text. The essay is thoughtful and developed. The student embeds quotations and references to illustrate their ideas. The student’s comments about Shakespeare’s intentions throughout the essay show that they realise his choices are deliberate. In order to get into level 6 the student should explore more of Shakespeare’s ideas.

Write down the other ideas you could put into this essay.

Find references or quotes to back these up.

Write another 350 words to add in to get 30/30.

Thank you for reading Mr Salles Teaches English. I want every student to be able to go up by several grades. Please share this post to help me reach that goal.

The 420 Word Essay!

Shakespeare reveals ambition as the dominant theme in the play, because it is Macbeth’s overpowering ambition which leads to his immoral murder of King Duncan. Lady Macbeth and the witches can only influence Macbeth in this because his ambition is already so great.

In this extract, Shakespeare explores how ambition influences even the most honourable. This is why he gives Lady Macbeth the perspective that Macbeth’s character is “ too full o’th’ milk of human kindness ”, which is her real perception because Shakespeare reveals it in SOLILOQUY. We associate “ milk ” with innocence and purity, which implies that Macbeth is too noble to act on his ambition. Yet, once he has reigned as king, he is viewed as a “ butcher ”, because he has become both cruel and indiscriminate in his killing.

This change from excessive kindness to tyranny is a surprising journey, which warns the audience of the danger of ambition. Moreover, Shakespeare portrays ambition as a force which will overcome morality and reason. He gives Lady Macbeth the view that Macbeth is “ not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it ”. The COMPARISON of ambition to “ illness ” implies that it is destructive, and also that this destruction can turn on the ambitious person themselves, attacking their sense of morality and ability to be kind.

Macbeth lists every reason not to murder Duncan, before focusing on his “ vaulting ambition ”. This METAPHOR implies that his ambition is more powerful than his conscience, so he will overcome his moral objections.

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Macbeth Essay Thesis Statements, Titles, and Topics

Post your thesis statements by March 25th, along with tentative titles and questions about essay topics. The essay prompt has been posted to Blackboard and you will also submit the final draft of your essay to Blackboard by Friday, April 3rd.

29 thoughts on “ Macbeth Essay Thesis Statements, Titles, and Topics ”

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For my thesis, I would like to explore and analyze Lady Macbeth’s character and the development of her character throughout the play. I was thinking of looking into whether her development was largely influenced by Macbeth’s prophecy or if her character was the one to influence how Macbeth’s prophecy came to be. I’m having trouble wording if but I have a thesis to work from: In this essay, I will analyze Lady Macbeth’s character progression and whether or not a connection exists to Macbeth’s prophecy.

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Kyla, go for it! I think you should focus on Lady Macbeth’s monologues in Act One, Scene Five and Act Five, Scene One.

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Can I get Your thesis

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Potential thesis: Although many blame the witches and their prophecies for Macbeth’s ill fate, it is actually his own fault. If Macbeth did not believe the witches’ prophecies, he probably wouldn’t have tried to control his “fate” which ended as a tragedy.

This is a great thesis and opens a lot of pathways for interpretation. You’ll have to explain why you put “fate” in scare quotes, as it suggests that you don’t believe fate is a major factor in the play. If you can do that, you’ll likely produce a lively discussion. Look to the debate on free will between Martin Luther and Erasmus in the “Contexts” section of the Norton Critical Edition.

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I was thinking about using the idea of tyranny and masculinity for my thesis, such as other thanes or princes want to overthrow MacBeth because they felt that he was acting tyrannical. Lady MacBeth says she wants to unsex herself when she decides to kill Duncan and Malcolm tells MacDuff that he is “unknown to woman, never was forsworn” so it seems that being a man reinforces the right to kill someone. A rough thesis would be: MacBeth is right to be overthrown because he is acting tyrannical, and Malcolm will be a better king because he’s the son of King Duncan and he’s more manly than MacBeth.

Petvy, I think you’re onto something with the problem of tyranny in Macbeth. It’s not immediately clear how you could tie that in with the distortions of maculinity in the play in only four to five pages, so I’d suggest focusing on either tyranny or masculinity (or its corruption). In either case, you have to talk about why Macbeth becomes a tyrant: it has a lot to do with the ways he interprets the prophecies from the witches, who represent (along with Lady Macbeth) grotesque distortions of femininity.

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Macbeth’s actions throughout the play are an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. He believes what the witches tell him about his fate and becomes intoxicated by the possibility of achieving power, which is the reason he commits all those evil acts and pays the ultimate price for it in the end, not because he is simply fulfilling his destiny.

This is promising, Ilya! Pick two or three scenes to focus on in your reading of Macbeth’s response to the prophecies.

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Throughout the novel, there are many symbols used to depict evil. Light and darkness are amongst the most common ways to show that light is good and dark is bad. In a more analytical approach, we can see that without the light Macbeth is in the dark for too long and causes him to become blind to goodness. From the beginning, all that has been described to be dark or involved in darkness have affected Macbeth into becoming corrupt and mad, such as the ‘midnight’ witches and the absence of the candles that Lady Macbeth so persistently carried towards the end. A working thesis for me would be how the use of light and darkness ultimately affected/foreshadowed that Macbeth would become corrupted and even guilty for the actions he had taken.

Karyna, it’s important to remember that a novel is a certain genre of writing. Macbeth is a play. Jane Austen’s Emma (which we’ll read in a few weeks) is a novel.

Classifications aside, the light/dark theme in the play is a big topic with lots to think about. Can you narrow it down to certain things that happen in light versus in darkness? For instance, Macbeth worries that he’ll never be able to sleep soundly again after he murders Duncan. Is there something to be said about the imagery juxtaposing darkness with sleeplessness brought on by guilt?

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Possible Thesis:

Darkness, concerning dusk, exceeds its function as a mere setting characteristic by acting as a symbol of foreboding. Approaching darkness (nightfall) mentioned as a setting descriptor is often followed by nefarious or immoral actions, such as murder.

I am most likely going to change the topic I’m writing on. If I’m unable to fully rationalize my thoughts for the other topic I had in mind, I’ll fall back onto this original thesis.

Cory, try and find a few passages where a character describes or reacts to the darkness. I’m wondering if the Porter might be a good character to look to. Banquo’s murderers might also be worth discussing. As for major characters, there are plenty who present responses to darkness, especially in Act II. And maybe there’s a parallel between the pervasive darkness in the play and Scotland’s peripheral position in relation to England. Scotland is a grim, wild, foul-weathered place: any parallels between the setting of the play and the qualities of darkness espoused in it?

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The circumstances that surround Macbeth’s rise to power allude to an evil power. The witches were written into this play during Shakespeare’s time where hysteria took precedent. Despite Shakespeare’s time being different from Macbeth’s time, there is still an emphasis on morality and what is considered to be a ‘sinful’ act or righteous. The presence of witches and prophecies may have been used to let the audience understand the meteoric rise of Macbeth was not truly ‘good’ or ‘righteous’. The witches are shown to be malevolent, and Macbeth’s association with these otherworldly figures notions towards an unjust claim to power. These allusions to an evil power include the stress on the number 3, which is known to represent evil and unholiness. For example, there are three witches, three roles that Macbeth takes on, and three prophecies.

Sounds great, Chiara! There are some materials in the back of the Norton Critical Edition pertaining to the witches (Hecate in particular). Ian McKellen’s interview might be a good place to start.

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In this paper I will argue that Macbeth’s endless ambition overpowers fate and his destiny is brought by his own free will.

Good thesis, Jordan. Discuss the claims about predestination and free will made by Martin Luther and Erasmus. Their essays are in the supplementary materials of the Norton Critical Edition of Macbeth.

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Psychology and subjective reality are prominent themes in Macbeth; Banquo’s ghost, the floating dagger, voices, and blood spots are only imagined by Macbeth as he unravels throughout the play. Lady Macbeth’s insomnia and hand-washing shows the psychological effect the murders have had on her. In the end, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are both perpetrators of their own demise; they actively seek to fulfill Fate and in turn are plagued by their own minds.

Mary, these are great passages to focus on for your thesis. I like the insinuation you’re making here: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth try to manipulate Fate, but all they end up doing–over and over again beginning with the murder of Duncan–is speed up its process.

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This is amazing, I am doing something similar to your thesis and took some ideas from yours thank you!

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Thesis: Throughout the play, Macbeth’s actions and decisions that he’s made seem to show an underlying sense of fear that fuels them. Fear can be controlling and influential on human beings and can sometimes dictate the path of their lives, all of which can be said for the character of Macbeth. From the witches’ prophecy to the various murders he orchestrates, fear is used as a motivator within Macbeth to commit unspeakable actions and as a result, drove him into losing touch with his sense of sanity and reality, slowly becoming unhinged at the hands of fear.

Very good, Lanz! Highlight passages where a character implies or specifically mentions being afraid (or conversely, feeling courageous).

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Potential Thesis Statement: By doing the wrong thing cause of greed, power, and other influences( In this case the witches) can often lead to negative outcomes, bad results, situations to become worse, and anxiety. This is what I’m thinking about using as a thesis statement, but still a little unsure. Sorry for the late response I thought the other Macbeth post was the forumn where I was suppose to write our blog response/thesis for the Macbeth essay originally.

Tayyab, this is an interesting general statement to make in relation to the events of the play, but maybe just focus on Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s responses to the witches’ prophecies. This way, you’ll have a coupe of very specific scenes towards which you can direct your close reading. As a bonus, you don’t have to spend time and energy wondering about the moral of the story. Focus instead on what the characters say and do and how and what these words and actions mean within the world of the play. Look to the supplementary materials in the back of the Norton Critical Edition for more guidance, and let me know if you have further questions.

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My thesis will be about self perception and it’s connection to the choice that people believe they are supposed to make. In the case of MacBeth, he heard a prophecy and his self perception changed from being a thane to a king. Really late response but I couldn’t think of anything original til now.

Aiden, reorient your thesis to avoid making generalizations about “people.” Focus only on how self-perception troubles the characters in Macbeth, particularly as it pertains to what certain characters believe about fate versus free choice. Look to the essays by Luther and Erasmus on this topic for guidance.

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For my second essay I plan to move forward to investigate Lady Macbeth’s psychosis. There’s much to analyze when it comes to Lady Macbeth’s behavior and speech. However, I’m afraid I’ve chosen a topic that is too big for a four to five-page essay. Should I focus on a specific act or scene for the essay? Additionally, I’m having difficulty wording my thesis. This is what I have so far …

In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is an unconventional female character, who possesses a dangerous ambitiousness and ruthlessness to help Macbeth become King of Scotland. Her character encourages Macbeth to commit an evil act and unleashes something within hi. As more cruel murders take place, Lady Macbeth becomes unrecognizable through her anxious and erratic behavior.

I feel like I’m not really making a claim but just summarizing her character development in the play. Any suggestions or ideas are greatly welcomed!! Thank you!

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Thesis: In Macbeth, his aligned actions had played to his rise and his downfall, which only proved that determinism took control of the entirety of Macbeth’s life and the world around him. 

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Home / Essay Samples / Literature / Plays / Macbeth

The Theme of Ambition in Macbeth

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Plays , Writers

Macbeth , Macbeth Ambition , William Shakespeare

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The Theme Of Ambition in Macbeth

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GCSE Macbeth thesis and model paragraph - Macbeth's ambition

GCSE Macbeth thesis and model paragraph - Macbeth's ambition

Subject: English

Age range: 14-16

Resource type: Worksheet/Activity

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A model thesis and first paragraph for the question: How does Shakespeare present Macbeth’s ambition? Topic sentence for second and third paragraphs and room for writing a We Do model, followed by students’ independent paragraph. I Do We Do You Do structure applied to essay. Great for introducing essay writing or feedback after assessment.

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Macbeth – A* / L9 Full Mark Example Essay

This is an A* / L9 full mark example essay on Macbeth completed by a 15-year-old student in timed conditions (50 mins writing, 10 mins planning).

It contained a few minor spelling and grammatical errors – but the quality of analysis overall was very high so this didn’t affect the grade. It is extremely good on form and structure, and perhaps could do with more language analysis of poetic and grammatical devices; as the quality of thought and interpretation is so high this again did not impede the overall mark. 

Thanks for reading! If you find this resource useful, you can take a look at our full online Macbeth course here . Use the code “SHAKESPEARE” to receive a 50% discount!

This course includes: 

  • A full set of video lessons on each key element of the text: summary, themes, setting, characters, context, attitudes, analysis of key quotes, essay questions, essay examples
  • Downloadable documents for each video lesson 
  • A range of example B-A* / L7-L9 grade essays, both at GCSE (ages 14-16) and A-Level (age 16+) with teacher comments and mark scheme feedback
  • A bonus Macbeth workbook designed to guide you through each scene of the play!

For more help with Macbeth and Tragedy, read our article here .

MACBETH EXAMPLE ESSAY:

Macbeth’s ambition for status and power grows throughout the play. Shakespeare uses Macbeth as an embodiment of greed and asks the audience to question their own actions through the use of his wrongful deeds.

In the extract, Macbeth is demonstrated to possess some ambition but with overriding morals, when writing to his wife about the prophecies, Lady Macbeth uses metaphors to describe his kind hearted nature: “yet I do fear thy nature, / It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness”. Here, Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a more gentle natured being who is loyal to his king and country. However, the very act of writing the letter demonstrates his inklings of desire, and ambition to take the throne. Perhaps, Shakespeare is aiming to ask the audience about their own thoughts, and whether they would be willing to commit heinous deeds for power and control. 

Furthermore, the extract presents Macbeth’s indecisive tone when thinking of the murder – he doesn’t want to kill Duncan but knows it’s the only way to the throne. Lady Macbeth says she might need to interfere in order to persuade him; his ambition isn’t strong enough yet: “That I may pour my spirits in  thine ear / And chastise with the valour of my tongue”. Here, Shakespeare portrays Lady Macbeth as a manipulative character, conveying she will seduce him in order to “sway “ his mind into killing Duncan. The very need for her persuasion insinuates Macbeth is still weighing up the consequences in his head, his ambition equal with his morality. It would be shocking for the audience to see a female character act in this authoritative way. Lady Macbeth not only holds control of her husband in a patriarchal society but the stage too, speaking in iambic pentameter to portray her status: “To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great”. It is interesting that Shakespeare uses Lady Macbeth in this way; she has more ambition for power than her husband at this part of play. 

As the play progresses, in Act 3, Macbeth’s ambition has grown and now kills with ease. He sends three murders to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance, as the witches predicted that he may have heirs to the throne which could end his reign. Macbeth is suspicious in this act, hiding his true intentions from his dearest companion and his wife: “I wish your horses swift and sure on foot” and “and make our faces vizards to our hearts”. There, we see, as an audience, Macbeth’s longing to remain King much stronger than his initial attitudes towards the throne He was toying with the idea of killing for the throne and now he is killing those that could interfere with his rule without a second thought. It is interesting that Shakespeare presents him this way, as though he is ignoring his morals or that they have been “numbed” by his ambition. Similarly to his wife in the first act, Macbeth also speaks in pentameter to illustrate his increase in power and dominance. 

In Act 4, his ambition and dependence on power has grown even more. When speaking with the witches about the three apparitions, he uses imperatives to portray his newly adopted controlling nature: “I conjure you” and “answer me”. Here, the use of his aggressive demanding demonstrates his reliance on the throne and his need for security. By the Witches showing him the apparitions and predicting his future, he gains a sense of superiority, believing he is safe and protected from everything. Shakespeare also lengthens Macbeth’s speech in front of the Witches in comparison to Act 1 to show his power and ambition has given him confidence, confidence to speak up to the “filthy nags” and expresses his desires. Although it would be easy to infer Macbeth’s greed and ambition has grown from his power-hungry nature, a more compassionate reading of Macbeth demonstrates the pressure he feels as a Jacobean man and soldier. Perhaps he feels he has to constantly strive for more to impress those around him or instead he may want to be king to feel more worthy and possibly less insecure. 

It would be unusual to see a Jacobean citizen approaching an “embodiment” of the supernatural as forming alliance with them was forbidden and frowned upon. Perhaps Shakespeare uses Macbeth to defy these stereotypical views to show that there is a supernatural, a more dark side in us all and it is up to our own decisions whereas we act on these impulses to do what is morally incorrect. 

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The Met Opera’s New Season: What We Want to See

In an effort to program contemporary works, the company will present recent operas by Jeanine Tesori, John Adams, Jake Heggie and Osvaldo Golijov.

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A scene from an opera production shows a group of performers dressed as members of the military, standing onstage in front of a digital screen.

Contemporary works will be front and center in the coming season, the Metropolitan Opera announced on Wednesday, with four company premieres among its six new productions.

The 2024-25 season will open in September with “ Grounded ,” about the toll of drone warfare, by Jeanine Tesori and George Brant, and will also feature the modern works “Moby-Dick,” by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer; “Ainadamar,” by Osvaldo Golijov and David Henry Hwang and “ Antony and Cleopatra ,” by John Adams. It will be the fifth opera by Adams that the Met has presented, putting him in the same category as Tchaikovsky and Bellini.

There will also be new stagings of Verdi’s “Aida” and Strauss’s “Salome.” Among the dozen revivals planned for the season are Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and “Il Trovatore,” Puccini’s “Tosca” and “La Bohème,” and Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” as well as two versions of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”: the full-length, original in German, directed by Simon McBurney, and a one-act, English adaptation that has become a holiday staple at the Met.

The lineup is part of the house’s efforts to attract new audiences by embracing contemporary operas , which are outselling many of the classics. The Met is still grappling with headwinds as it works to recover from the pandemic. In January, the company said it had withdrawn nearly $40 million in additional emergency funds from its endowment to help cover operating expenses.

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in an interview that the new season reflected the “artistic hopes and challenges and constraints that we face.”

“We have to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “At the same time, I think that what we’re offering really pushes immense artistic boundaries.”

The company’s cost-cutting means that some operas are being delayed. A sexy new staging of Handel’s “Semele” by the director Claus Guth, which was supposed to premiere next season, for example, will be moved to a future season, Gelb said.

Here are five highlights of the coming season, chosen by critics for The New York Times. JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ

‘Ainadamar’

This flamenco-inflected meditation on the life and work of the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca is ritualistic, dreamlike, sometimes even delirious. Golijov, the composer, fires Hwang’s libretto (translated into Spanish) with sensuous, raucous rhythms and colors. Deborah Colker’s stark production, which played at the Detroit Opera last year, aims for a middle ground between realism and symbolism. Miguel Harth-Bedoya, in his Met debut, conducts a cast that includes Angel Blue, Elena Villalón and Daniela Mack. Opens Oct. 15. ZACHARY WOOLFE

‘Die Frau Ohne Schatten’

After a season-long absence, Richard Strauss’s operas return to the Met lineup. The company last performed “Die Frau Ohne Schatten,” a huge, esoteric, fantastical opera about the symbolic dimensions of marital conflict, in 2013, and now Yannick Nézet-Séguin tackles it with Elza van den Heever, Lise Lindstrom, Nina Stemme and Michael Volle. ( Opens Nov. 29 .) Nézet-Séguin teams up again with van den Heever for “Salome,” Strauss’s sensational one-act, in a new production by Claus Guth, opening April 29. OUSSAMA ZAHR

The soprano Lise Davidsen , who has one of those “she could sing the phone book” voices, undertakes two disparate assignments: the volatile diva of Puccini’s “Tosca” (alongside the tenor Freddie De Tommaso in his Met debut) and the steadfast wife of Beethoven’s “Fidelio.” Her voice has the power to spin the titanic vocal demands of Beethoven’s opera into lyrical gold, and she’ll be joined by Tomasz Konieczny, René Pape and the conductor Susanna Mälkki . Opens March 4. OUSSAMA ZAHR

‘Antony and Cleopatra’

When John Adams ’s latest opera — a dense yet hurtling adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy — comes to the Met, it will look a bit different from when it last played in the United States, during its premiere run at San Francisco Opera in 2022. There, it was conducted by Eun Sun Kim and missing Julia Bullock, for whom the role of Cleopatra had been written. But this revival will star Bullock, with Adams in the pit to lead his revised score. Opens May 12. JOSHUA BARONE

‘The Queen of Spades’

The conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson corralled the forces of Shostakovich’s “ Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk ” at the Met in 2022, so it makes sense to bring her back for another sweeping opera: Tchaikovsky’s tale of love and obsession. The stars are the soprano Sonya Yoncheva, often powerful in passionate lyrical roles like Lisa, and the robust tenor Brian Jagde, in the daunting role of Hermann. Igor Golovatenko, Alexey Markov and, as a forbidding old countess, Violeta Urmana complete the cast. Opens May 23. ZACHARY WOOLFE

An earlier version of this article misstated which opera company premiered Deborah Colker’s “Ainadamar” production. It first ran at Scottish Opera, not at Detroit Opera.

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  1. Macbeth Thesis Statement Ambition

    What are two good thesis statements about ambition and its relation to guilt/conscience in Shakespeare's Macbeth? PDF Cite Share Expert Answers Robert C. Evans | Certified Educator Cite In...

  2. Macbeth Key Theme: Ambition

    Ambition is Macbeth's fatal character flaw, his hamartia: In tragedy, a tragic hero must have a tragic flaw In Macbeth, as in most tragedy, the tragic hero's hamartia is the cause of their own downfall: Macbeth's ambition to gain, and retain, the throne leads to him committing more and more evil acts

  3. Ambition Theme in Macbeth

    Macbeth is a play about ambition run amok. The weird sisters ' prophecies spur both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to try to fulfill their ambitions, but the witches never make Macbeth or his wife do anything. Macbeth and his wife act on their own to fulfill their deepest desires.

  4. Macbeth: an Analytical of Ambition and Its Consequences

    Introduction Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, is a tragic play that explores themes of ambition, power, and moral corruption. The protagonist, Macbeth, is initially portrayed as a brave and noble soldier, but his unchecked ambition leads him to commit heinous acts and ultimately brings about his own downfall.

  5. Macbeth: Themes

    Act 1: Scenes 1-4 Act 1: Scenes 5-7 Act 2: Scenes 1 & 2 Act 2: Scenes 3 & 4 Act 3: Scenes 1-3 Act 3: Scenes 4-6 Act 4: Scenes 1-3 Act 5: Scenes 1-8 Full Play Full Play Summary Full Play Analysis Key Facts Video Summary Characters Character List Macbeth Lady Macbeth The Three Witches Banquo Macduff King Duncan Malcolm Literary Devices Themes Motifs

  6. An Analysis of Macbeth's Ambition

    Ambition is the driving force of William Shakespeare's tragedy " Macbeth ." More specifically, it is about ambition that goes unchecked by any concept of morality; this is why it becomes a dangerous quality.

  7. AQA English Revision

    During the soliloquy Macbeth explains three very significant reasons why he doesn't want to kill Duncan: that evil deeds always "return to plague th'inventor;" that as the King's "kinsman," "subject" and "host" Macbeth should "against the murderer shut the door, and not carry the knife myself;" and that, in fact, Duncan is such an astonishing Ki...

  8. A+ Student Essay: The Significance of Equivocation in Macbeth

    A+ Student Essay: The Significance of Equivocation in Macbeth. Macbeth is a play about subterfuge and trickery. Macbeth, his wife, and the three Weird Sisters are linked in their mutual refusal to come right out and say things directly. Instead, they rely on implications, riddles, and ambiguity to evade the truth.

  9. AQA English Revision

    It goes on to say: "Although he is encouraged by the Witches, Macbeth's true downfall is his own ambition. Lady Macbeth is as ambitious as her husband, encouraging him to commit murder to achieve their goals." You'll find variants of this idea on most websites and in most interpretations of the play.

  10. Unchecked Ambition in Shakespeare's "Macbeth" Research Paper

    According to Stuntz (443), the term 'unchecked ambition' refers to the excessive, extreme or uncontrollable desire for success, power or wealth.it is the hunger or greediness for achieving more than what someone has. According to Mahatma Gandhi, there are two kinds of power- power based on the fear of punishment and power based on love (Low ...

  11. Free Macbeth Ambition Essay Examples & Topic Ideas

    Macbeth Theme: The Role of Ambitions in Poem. 2 pages / 729 words. The notion of ambition as Macbeth's theme is discussed in this essay. In the story of Macbeth, it is clear that ambition is the major key to success. Ambition is the reason for Macbeth's downfall. He is offered the determination by the mystic power of...

  12. PDF Six Macbeth' essays by Wreake Valley students

    Macbeth replies "If we should fail?" she replies with an exclamative sentence "We fail!" which shows Lady Macbeth is full of ambition and the use of repetition in "fail" shows that there is some sort of angry annoyance while the plural pronoun "We" shows that they're in it together.

  13. Grade 9 Essay: How does Shakespeare present the theme of ambition in

    It introduces the idea that ambition will affect 'reason', but never actually proves it -there are many easy examples and quotes revealing the mental state of Macbeth - is this a dagger, murdered sleep, never shake they gory locks, my mind is full of scorpions etc - and Lady Macbeth sleepwalking.

  14. Macbeth Essay Thesis Statements, Titles, and Topics

    29 thoughts on " Macbeth Essay Thesis Statements, Titles, and Topics ". Kyla Cortez (she/her/hers) March 24, 2020 at 11:50 am. For my thesis, I would like to explore and analyze Lady Macbeth's character and the development of her character throughout the play. I was thinking of looking into whether her development was largely influenced ...

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  16. The Theme of Ambition in Macbeth

    This essay has been submitted by a student. Ambition can force a naturally virtuous man to be enveloped by evil. Macbeth, from William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, began as a courageous Scottish general who fought for King Duncan with no mercy. But once the witches lured Macbeth with the possibilities of his prophecies, ambition took over and ...

  17. GCSE Macbeth thesis and model paragraph

    GCSE Macbeth thesis and model paragraph - Macbeth's ambition Subject: English Age range: 14-16 Resource type: Worksheet/Activity File previews docx, 17.81 KB A model thesis and first paragraph for the question: How does Shakespeare present Macbeth's ambition?

  18. Macbeth Quotes: Ambition

    Thou wouldst be great. Art not without ambition, but without. The illness should attend it (1.5) Lady Macbeth speaks these lines as she reflects on her husband's character. She knows that Macbeth is capable of ambitious dreams, but she thinks that he is unwilling to display the ruthless behavior necessary to achieve those dreams.

  19. Macbeth

    A range of example B-A* / L7-L9 grade essays, both at GCSE (ages 14-16) and A-Level (age 16+) with teacher comments and mark scheme feedback; ... Although it would be easy to infer Macbeth's greed and ambition has grown from his power-hungry nature, a more compassionate reading of Macbeth demonstrates the pressure he feels as a Jacobean man ...

  20. The Theme Of Ambition in Macbeth Free Essay Example

    Ambition can force a naturally virtuous man to be enveloped by evil. Macbeth, from William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, began as a courageous Scottish general who fought for King Duncan with no mercy. But once the witches lured Macbeth with the possibilities of his prophecies, ambition took over and drove him to become power hungry and greedy.

  21. Macbeth Ambition Essay

    May 9, 2023 by Prasanna Macbeth Ambition Essay: Without ambition, several great achievements by humankind would not have been reached. Nobody would have dreamed of creating opportunities, discovering, and clashing against several failures to succeed if there was no ambition driving them.

  22. Robert Macbeth, Founder of Harlem's New Lafayette Theater, Dies at 89

    By Clay Risen. Feb. 22, 2024, 1:58 p.m. ET. Robert Macbeth, a rising Black actor in the New York theater scene, was sitting in a Greenwich Village bar in September 1963, getting a drink before ...

  23. The Met Opera's New Season: What We Want to See

    The conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson corralled the forces of Shostakovich's " Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk " at the Met in 2022, so it makes sense to bring her back for another sweeping opera ...