How does Macbeth's ambition lead him to his tragic demise in Shakespeare's Macbeth?
Macbeth, the protagonist and tragic hero in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, possess hamartia. Hamartia, named by Aristotle in Poetics, is a tragic flaw possessed by any tragic hero. This flaw is just that, tragic (meaning deadly).
Macbeth's hamartia is his ambition. While his ambition grows over the course of the play, it exists prior to his hearing of the prophecy of the witches . Given that he is a renowned soldier,...
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Regardless of the fact that Duncan is God’s anointed and appointed monarch, Macbeth is willing to kill his own relative in exchange for his tragic downfall. Driven by lust, Macbeth invites Duncan for a feast at his home, only by deceiving Duncan of the two faces Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. “Make our faces vizards to our hearts, disguising what they are.” Though Macbeth knows the evil of his actions, he is willing to trade his heart with the devil. “I am afraid to think what I have done; look on’t again I dare not.” Overcome by sadness of the death of his relative Macbeth has truly realised the extent of his actions, “What hands are here! Ha-they pluck out mine eyes! Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” Though Macbeth wants to stop, he could not stop his uncontrollable ambition. “I have no spur to prick.” Despite the fact that Macbeth achieved his aim, his ambitions lead him to his demise through killing more to conserve his innocence. Macbeth ruthlessly killed the innocent guards in their sleep, excusing himself by asking, “Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man.” In killing the guards Macbeth’s ambition is evident. After the first kill Macbeth is able to kill without hesitating. Macbeth has realised that it would be easier to keep killing than to turn back. “I am in blood stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more, returning [was] as tedious as go o’er.
Macbeth’s own ambition gets in the way of his conscience which is a significant factor that contributes to his demise. Macbeth is ambition. He desires the crown. But when Duncan names as the prince of Cumberland, Macbeth knows he must act. The thought of murder occurs to him at one and he sees it as a foul deed. He wishes for me “starts to hide your [their] fires; let not light see [his] black and deep desires”. He has a conscience with great opposition between the evil and goodness in him. Macbeth has the ambition of becoming king but he uses one murder to cover up another which leads to an endless pit of murders. He thinks to himself that he is ‘so far in blood” that he cannot get out and might as well continue down the same path. Macbeth’s own ambition leads to his demise.
Ultimately, the tragedy of Macbeth depicts how ambition can bring about the downfall of a human person. Through deceptive predictions, Macbeth’s mind began to construct evil thought to attain greatness. His ambition became apparent when his allowed to be persuaded into Killing. Through his first act of murder, Macbeth had become obsessed with his power and title and continued to kill for his ambition, which inexorably brought about his finish.