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Macbeth’s Ambitious Character Through the Play

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 Humans have an innate desire for more, more in materialistic property, success, and time. Although there are opportunities that present the ability to obtain more at the expense of another, the decisions made at this cross road is the definitive of a person’s character. In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth the protagonist Macbeth is an accurate portrayal of the human heart in battle with itself, conflicted between what is right and wrong. In this tragedy, Macbeth is a brave nobleman who finds himself in internal turmoil, battling his ethical morality and his ambition for power. In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth’s soliloquy shows him to be an ambitious, ambivalent, and moral man. Macbeth’s desire to be the King of Scotland leaves him susceptible to a crowded conscience.

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Oftentimes, humans are blinded by the lust of power, which becomes the most flagrant of all ambition. Macbeth’s ambition for dominance is seen through his soliloquy as he is willing to cross any line to conquer a higher stature. In his soliloquy, Macbeth considers if he should murder Duncan: “It were done quickly: if the assassination / Could trammel up the consequences, and catch, / With his surcease, success”. This quote metaphorically states that Macbeth wants Duncan’s death to work like a net, catching all of the consequences it brings. Macbeth’s ambitious character is unveiled through these lines as he is eager to do anything to reap the benefits of Duncan’s murder, who has been nothing but kind to Macbeth.

Furthermore, Macbeth’s soliloquy reveals his divided character, unable to choose between power and loyalty. Macbeth considers the repercussions of his act: “But in these cases/ We still have judgment here, that we teach/ Bloody instructions which, being taught/ Return to plague th’inventor. This even-handed justice/ Commends th’ ingredients of our poisoned chalice”. Macbeth notes that if he were to commit treason, another power hungry, will be aspired to kill him for the crown in turn. Macbeth through his dilemma contemplates the deed and fears how justice will prevail to return his deed upon him. The conflict seen within Macbeth is symbolism for his yearning of moral discretion. His fear of potential ramifications is a deterrent to which Macbeth is torn between his morals and integrity. Macbeth fueled by his vaulting ambition is tempted to take a course of action against Duncan, yet, he is reluctant, fearful of the uncontrollable consequences that may follow. Macbeth’s mental obstacle is between being righteous or selfish.

Lastly, Macbeth is seen as a loyal man as he regards the idea of treachery with horror, unwilling to betray Duncan. He takes into account the ethical duties he serves as a host and how violating those principles would be vile. Macbeth acknowledges the violation of hospitality: “ He’s here in double: / First, as I am his kinsman and his subject/…then, as his host”. In these lines, Macbeth wrestles with his conscience, as he believes it would be immoral to commit murder since Duncan is a guest at his home and his King. Macbeth speaks of Duncan’s character: “ Besides, this Duncan / Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been / So clear in his great office, that his virtues / Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against / The deep damnation of his taking off”. In these lines, biblical imagery is used for an opposition between heaven and hell, Duncan and Macbeth. Macbeth uses the euphemism “taking off” because he believes Duncan does not deserve death, him being a humble leader. Macbeth is horrified by killing Duncan, who is a compassionate ruler. Macbeth decides against the plan of regicide, as he realizes he has no complaint against the king.

Macbeth exemplifies internal conflict through his struggle to quench his ambition while also trying to abide by his moral standards. Macbeth’s desire for power leads to the erosion of his mental clarity. Through the soliloquy in Act 1.7, Macbeth is characterized as a power-loving, indecisive, and virtuous man. All presented through the internal conflict that plagues Macbeth. The universal battle between right and wrong continuously disrupts the human conscience making it one of the hardest battles to win.  

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