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How adequate is 'tragedy of ambition' as a description of Macbeth?

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Introduction

How adequate is 'tragedy of ambition' as a description of Macbeth? Tragedy of ambition is indeed at the very heart of, and is the very essence of Macbeth. While other themes flow through the text and contribute to the downfall of Macbeth, ambition remains the fueling desire that plagues Macbeth throughout the duration of the play. In tragedy, the responder views the fall of a hero, and the events causing this descent. The text is focused on Macbeth's main flaw, ambition, or the desire to achieve his goals and dreams, as the cause of his tragedy. His ambition was to become king, and this is central to the text, although his ruin was also due to circumstance, including the encouragement given to him by the witches and Lady Macbeth. Therefore, while the decline of Macbeth is due to a combination of factors, it is his desire to become king that leads him to treason, murder, despair, and ultimately, his own demise. This is shown using various techniques, which include: soliloquies, hubris, dialogue, paradox, conflict and dramatic irony. In the text, we are first presented with the idea that Macbeth has the potential to be more than he already is through the witches. ...read more.

Middle

Her words to Macbeth encourage him to take the final step, even after he proclaims "we will proceed no further in this business." Lady Macbeth is filled with a such desire to see her husband crowned king, that she resorts to taunting Macbeth in order that he might kill King Duncan, saying "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," and then angered by his apparent lack of purpose cries "How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have to this." By fueling Macbeth's ambition with her own, she changes his mind, deepening his want for the death of the King. Macbeth's ambition soon evolves into obsession, until it comes to the point where he murders anyone who might stand in the way of his future. His desires gradually overwhelm him; until hardly anymore of his heroic nature can be seen, which is a typical example of hubris. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is important to note that for all of his ambitious ways, and of all that he achieved, Macbeth was not happy at the end of the play. This also adds to the idea of tragedy, as there is no fairytale ending for Macbeth, and despite his ruthless hard work, the fulfillment of his desire was not enough to satisfy him. "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle, life's but a walking shadow ... It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing." Although ambition isn't the only factor that causes Macbeth to meet his ruin, all of the other aspects stem from his desires. The witches' prophesies only serve to strengthen his resolve, as they all seem to point to the fact that he will be King. Lady Macbeth's ambition is added to his own to create a greater desire to achieve his wants. Conflicts were fought, and through all of Macbeth's battles, whether be it internal or external, ambition always won in the end. Macbeth is a tragedy of ambition. ...read more.

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