In Macbeth, what quotes represent the hubris, or Macbeth's excessive pride?

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kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 2) Educator

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Macbeth demonstrates hubris, or excessive pride, as early as Act I, not long after the witches have prophesied that he will become the king of Scotland one day. In this quote from Scene IV, for example, Macbeth talks about his "black and deep desires," a reference to his pride and ambition, and admits that he will go to any length to achieve his aims:

Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

Similarly, in Act I, Scene VII, Macbeth's hubris becomes his sole reason for killing King Duncan. In fact, in this quote, Macbeth accepts that it is nothing but "vaulting ambition" which inspires him to murder:

I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'er leaps itself
And falls on th' other.
Macbeth's hubris lingers to the very end of the play, even when he knows that his defeat is inevitable. In Act V, Scene VIII, for example, seconds before his death in battle, Macbeth refuses to surrender to his enemies and demonstrates that his pride is so excessive that he values it more highly than his own life:
I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.
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amswain1's profile pic

amswain1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Hubris can be considered more than excessive pride in a person. Hubris can also be too much ambition or even over confidence in a character.

Macbeth is a prime example of a man filled with pride, ambition and confidence. The reader sees this right from the start of the play. As soon as Macbeth is named Thane of Cawdor,fulfilling one of the witches prophesies, he begins to contemplate how to become king as the witches have suggested. The fact that he wants to be king, and kills to become king, shows his ambition.

The second set of prophesies allow the reader to examine Macbeth’s overconfidence. When the trees begin to march against him as the witches warned, Macbeth still believes that he will live. He leaves the castle with armor on his back and fights to keep his power. Even though the witches have tricked him once, he still believes he is invincible as the witches told him. He fails to think about the ways the witches have tricked him. This shows us that he is confident of his success, yet since he is eventually killed by Macduff, we can see that his confidence was misplaced (an example of hubris).

Hope this helps. Good luck!

 

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