In Shakespeare's Macbeth, how is Macbeth's ambition his hamartia?

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At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is described as a violent maniac, utterly fearless and reckless in his bloodlust:

Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,Which smoked with bloody execution,Like valour's minion carved out his passageTill he faced the slave; Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell...

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At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is described as a violent maniac, utterly fearless and reckless in his bloodlust:

Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valour's minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps,
And fix'd his head upon our battlements.

The response of King Duncan to this terrifying conduct is all too predictable:

O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!

As long as Macbeth’s furious violence is employed in the service of his king, he is universally praised and admired. It is his ambition to take the king’s place that turns him into a villain and causes his downfall. Ambition, therefore, is unquestionably his hamartia, or tragic flaw. Macbeth admits this himself. Before killing Duncan, he enumerates all the arguments against doing so. He is not only Duncan’s “kinsman and his subject” but also his host. Duncan has trusted him by visiting his castle and has also shown him great honor, rewarding him richly for his service by making him Thane of Cawdor. Quite apart from this, Duncan is acknowledged to be an excellent king, universally admired and beloved. Macbeth concludes:

I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other.

Macbeth’s personal ambition even blinds him to the futility of his sterile kingship, which is clear from the very beginning, as the witches announce that Banquo’s descendants will be kings at the same time as they prophesy Macbeth’s own kingship. He does nothing good when he becomes king and quickly realizes that he has murdered Duncan and robbed himself of peace and, quite possibly, eternal life: “To make them Kings, the seed of Banquo kings!” Macbeth’s ambition overcomes not only virtue but reason in his blind pursuit of power.

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As a reminder, hamartia refers to a character's tragic flaw. Macbeth's ambition is his hamartia because it is responsible for his downfall and death in the final scene of the play. 

Consider, for instance, that Macbeth's ambition drives him to embark on his bloody quest for the throne, an enterprise that begins with killing King Duncan and progresses with further, ruthless murders. Macbeth's ambitious, bloody thirst for power turns him into a tyrant and forces his former allies to turn against him and, in the end, to destroy him.

It's interesting to note that the witches' prophesy doesn't actually say anything about killing King Duncan. The witches famously predict that Macbeth will become king, but they don't specify how; Macbeth is the one who chooses to murder his way to the top. Though there's no way to know for sure, it's possible that, had Macbeth chosen to wait and do nothing, King Duncan would have died of natural causes. Furthermore, it's not preposterous to imagine a scenario in which Duncan's sons were unable to assume the throne. Since Macbeth was a favorite of Duncan's, it's also not unreasonable to assume that Macbeth could have been crowned king in the absence of Duncan and his sons, thus peacefully fulfilling the prophesy. As such, Macbeth's bloody conquests can be seen as a product of his own ambition, which in turn proves this quality to be his tragic flaw.  

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