What are the cost(s) associated with the power Macbeth achieves in Macbeth?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a really novel way to look at the character of Macbeth and his rise to power. Although Macbeth definitely does achieve the greatness and the position of power that he wanted, the play gives testimony to the way in which he pays a terrible price for this ambition and rise to power. If his haunted soliloquies in Act I aren't a clear enough indication of the way that ambition is destroying him, his response in Act II scene 2 after killing Duncan clearly points towards the way that his crime and evil is literally eating him up. One way in which this is shown is the insomnia that plagues Macbeth. Note what he says to his wife after killing Duncan:

Methought, I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more!

Macbeth does murder Sleep,"--the innocent Sleep;

Sleep, that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,

The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great Nature's second course,

Chief nourisher in life's feast;--

Not being able to enjoy sleep and its restorative benefits is a key way in which Macbeth is shown to pay a terrible price for his rise to power. You might also like to analyse the way in which, as Macbeth continues on his course, he becoms increasingly isolated, even from his partner in crime, Lady Macbeth. Also, consider the way in which he is tortured by the nebulous and equivocal prophecies that the witches give him.

cpete10 | Student

hey Matt :) haha

lillymoon | Student

Macbeth went from being a loyal and trusted soldier and transformed into a cold-blooded killer. He murdered several people because of his ambition. He becomes insane and suffers from restlessness and hallucinations. The "ghost" he sees makes everyone suspicious. In the end, he loses everything, including his wife, and winds up getting killed by Macduff even though he thought for sure he wasn't going to die because of what the three witches said. The "power" Macbeth achieves is short-lived and very costly, and Macbeth wasn't even really trusted or respected while "thriving" in his triumph.