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Is ambition the root of Macbeth's downfall?

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Introduction

Is ambition the root of Macbeth's downfall? Ambition plays the largest part in Macbeth's downfall. However, without the interference of the witches his ambition would not have changed. The witches increase his ambition drastically by the thought of kingship. Lady Macbeth sees the potential for his ambition to be great, but knows he will do nothing with it, so she plans it all for him; all he has to do is stab Duncan. The three witches are introduced at the beginning of the play; they give Macbeth three prophecies, that he will be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis and King. The witches can foretell the future; they add temptation and influence Macbeth but they cannot control his destiny. The witches themselves have no particular goal to reach. When it comes to Macbeth they are just having fun. As Hecate argues, all they achieve is: 'How did you dare/ To trade and traffic with Macbeth/ In riddles and affairs of death' The language used here by Hecate is dark and unpleasant, and the way 'death' is used, implies that the witches could have known that their interference would lead to the death of characters. ...read more.

Middle

Although Macbeth has the final say in whether or not to go ahead with the initial killing, he loves his wife and wants to make her happy. Lady Macbeth is the dominating person in their relationship. It seems that she can get him to do anything as long as she does it in the right way, like playing on his confidence. However, as the play progresses, and Duncan is killed, Macbeth seems to become the dominating partner. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have ambition; Lady Macbeth's ambition drives her to manipulate Macbeth into the most heinous crime of regicide. Most of the crimes committed by Macbeth were planned out beforehand, i.e. the murders of Duncan, Banquo and Macduff's family. Paranoia is another key factor that leads to Macbeth's downfall. Once Macbeth kills for the first time he has no choice but to cover up his wrong doings, and to do this he has to kill again because he is scared, understandably, of getting caught and having to pay for his crimes. Macbeth feels Banquo knows that he became king in an immoral way but also Macbeth knows that it would be 'No son of mine succeeding'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was followed by the prediction that Banquo's children would become kings, this scared Macbeth. Later when he went back to see the witches he gained some more knowledge, 'Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; Beware the thane of Fife.'. Now that Macbeth has heard this, he believes that he must kill Macduff, however he learns that Macduff has fled to England, so he decides to kill Macduff's family. Macbeth is told he cannot be killed by any man born of woman. This gives him the confidence that no matter what the English do he will not be defeated. In addition he is told that he will not be defeated until the trees of Birnam Wood move towards his castle. He has put all his faith in these prophecies because he believes what the witches have said must be true because of the outcome of the first prediction. In conclusion, Macbeth has many forces acting upon him, the Witches, Lady Macbeth, paranoia and ambition. However things would not have got so out of control if the others factors had not contributed, so ambition is the main root of Macbeth's downfall. Titus Singh / UVF(A2) English Coursework Macbeth 08/05/2007 Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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