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How Ambitions and Immoral Decision Play a Part in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Previously, Macbeth had always felt content with his respected position as the Thane of Glamis. However, when his heroism on the battlefield resulted in his sudden promotion to Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth began to lust for power and wealth. Tempted by the promises of the witches’ prophecy, Macbeth chose to abandon his sense of morality and to revoke his loyalty to King Duncan. The inextinguishable flames of Macbeth’s ambition ravaged the lives of his loved ones, engulfing and smothering them. Through this tragic play, Shakespeare conveyed the universal truth that immoral decisions engender horrific repercussions.

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Fueled by his wife’s persuasion, Macbeth’s longing for power rapidly transforms into an unquenchable thirst. Macbeth welcomed King Duncan into his home at Inverness Castle under the guise of hospitality, while hostility thrived in his heart. Under relentless pressure from Lady Macbeth, he betrayed King Duncan, his own kinsmen, in an attempt to usurp the throne. While his wife drugged King Duncan’s chamber guards with wine, Macbeth experienced internal qualms concerning his imminent task of stabbing King Duncan while he slept. Prior to the murder, Macbeth had numerous opportunities to follow his conscience, but his ambition ultimately drove him to execute this horrendous crime.

After he committed regicide, Macbeth became wracked with guilt, yet he still aspired to fulfill the witches’ prophecy by becoming the next Scottish king. In order to ensure a smooth transition to the throne, Macbeth must eliminate the potential obstacles in his path. To allay suspicion and prevent the revelation of his treacherous crime, Macbeth had to sacrifice his best friend, Banquo. He cunningly invited Banquo to his coronation feast and hired assassins to ambush Banquo on the journey, silencing him forever. Macbeth also feared that Banquo’s heirs would overthrow his own children from power. Therefore, he ordered the murderers to target Banquo’s son, Fleance, to prevent the witches’ second prophecy from becoming a reality. Eventually, Macbeth realized the emotional consequences of murdering his comrade, frequently experiencing hallucinations of Banquo’s ghost.

However, Banquo’s death did not ensure Macbeth’s smooth and swift ascent to power as he had initially hoped, and Fleance’s narrow escape from death only complicated his plans. As the play unraveled, Macbeth realized the incorrigibility of his decisions. Once he chose the path of deceit and betrayal, he constantly needed to engage in further deception and kill additional people to shroud his previous lies and mistakes. In this tragedy, Macbeth’s misery served as a reminder of the universal truth that immoral decisions only yield disastrous effects. As a consequence of the deception and murder of King Duncan, Macbeth must cope with his guilt, and eventually, with his wife’s remorseful suicide. Finally, Macbeth must pay the ultimate price for the betrayal and murder of his closest acquaintances: his sanity and his life.

There were several pivotal moments where Macbeth had the opportunity to make the morally correct decision. Each time, he opted to continue on his path to destruction. Ever since Macbeth decided to disregard his conscience and kill King Duncan to satisfy his ambition, he became convinced that mistakes could not be remedied. To some degree, the deception, lies, and half-truths in Macbeth created complications, putting Macbeth and his loved ones in unnecessary danger. This desire to seize wealth and power through dishonest methods resulted in his ultimate downfall.

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