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What are the effects of Macbeth’s overzealous strivings to achieve his ambitions in...

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lilmama034 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 23, 2013 at 12:03 AM via web

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What are the effects of Macbeth’s overzealous strivings to achieve his ambitions in Macbeth?  

I need at least two effects from each act that are a direct result of Macbeth’s desire to become king.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 23, 2013 at 12:28 AM (Answer #1)

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One effect of Macbeth’s ambition and desire to be king is that his wife commits suicide.

One of the most severe effects of Macbeth ambition is Lady Macbeth’s death.  When he first heard the prophecies that he would be promoted and then king, he told his wife and she was pleased.  Then King Duncan did not name Macbeth to be his successor, and Macbeth was angry.

The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step(55)

On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,

For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;

Let not light see my black and deep desires… (Act 1, Scene 4)

Lady Macbeth tells her husband that he has to kill the king in order to take his rightful place.  At first, he is reluctant.  She thinks to herself that he does have it in him, but is just too nice.

Yet do I fear thy nature;

It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness(15)

To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great;

Art not without ambition, but without

The illness should attend it. (Act 1, Scene 5)

She tells him what to do, and he does it.  Once he has the position of king, his ambition takes over.  Suddenly, he is not satisfied.  He does not just want to be king; he wants to safely be king.  He grows paranoid, imagining schemes against his power everywhere. He kills his best friend Banquo and the entire Macduff family. 

This is too much for Lady Macbeth.  She feels like she has created a monster, and can no longer control him.  She is acutely aware of her role in the murder.

What need we fear who knows it,

when none can call our power to account? Yet who would

have thought the old man to have had so much blood

in him? (Act 5, Scene 1)

Lady Macbeth finally kills herself because she can't handle the grief.  This is barely a blimp on Macbeth's radar, because by this point he is so caught up in his own survival that he barely notices.

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