In Macbeth, how does ambition affect Macduff?

Macduff feels no ambition at all and seems quite content with his lot in life.

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Ambition is really not a quality that motivates Macduff; he seems quite satisfied with the role and responsibilities that he has, and we really do not see any evidence that he wishes for more. On the morning after Duncan's murder, Macduff arrives to awaken the king, saying,

I'll...

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Ambition is really not a quality that motivates Macduff; he seems quite satisfied with the role and responsibilities that he has, and we really do not see any evidence that he wishes for more. On the morning after Duncan's murder, Macduff arrives to awaken the king, saying,

I'll make so bold to call,
For 'tis my limited service. (2.3.57-58)

He is ready to perform is appointed duty. He does not try to do extra, as though in hopes that Duncan would bestow some new title or rights to him. He does his duty, proudly and without complaint: nothing more and nothing less. When Macduff discovers that Duncan is dead, he never stops to consider how the king's death might benefit him or leave a gap that he might fill. Instead, in the moments following his discovery, he claims that the scene with Duncan's body would "destroy" the observer's sight "With a new Gorgon" and sounds the alarm to awaken the house. He vows to fight "treasonous malice" along with the others who are loyal to the king (2.3.154).

Later, Macduff could flatter Macbeth and try to win a new title from him, if Macduff were ambitious and craved more power or money. Instead, he opts not to go to Macbeth's coronation in Scone, which is kind of a snub, and then he fails to show up at Macbeth's disastrous dinner party in Act 3, scene 4, despite having been invited to appear. If Macduff were more ambitious than he is honorable and loyal, then he would likely prefer to try to gain favor with Macbeth—the new king—rather than seek out the rightful heir to the throne, Malcolm.

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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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