In Macbeth, how does ambition affect Macduff?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Macduff, as well as his countrymen, suffers enormously as the result of Macbeth's ambition. When Macbeth murders King Duncan to gain the crown, Scotland is thrown into political turmoil. Macbeth proves to be a ruthless and tyrannical ruler, and Malcolm (Duncan's rightful heir) wages war against Macbeth, with the help of the English sovereign. As a loyal supporter of Duncan and one who loves his country, Macduff is caught up in these circumstances.

Because he chooses to fight with Malcolm, Macduff becomes Macbeth's enemy. As a result, Macbeth orders the slaughter of Macduff's wife, children, and entire household. Macduff's suffering over the loss of his family is profound, and added to his agony is the knowledge they died alone in his absence. (He was not at home to protect them because he had gone to join the war against Macbeth.) Macduff blames himself for their deaths and vows retribution. Justice is served in the play's conclusion as Macduff kills Macbeth in battle and takes off his head. Macbeth's political ambition resulted in much destruction and suffering, but none was greater than Macduff's personal loss of his entire family.

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