Macbeth: The Vaulting Ambition

Shakespeares Macbeth is considered to be one of the best plays ever written. It is set in Scotland in the medieval times, around the 11th century. The play focuses on the psychological effects performed on the main character Macbeth.

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Macbeth shows us how dramatically his representation changes. Macbeth at the beginning is a highly respected and well-known war-hero. However the seed of change is planted when he meets the three evil witches who predict his future of becoming the king of Scotland. This sudden event makes Macbeth ambitious and he kills Duncan, the current king. Macbeth’s vaulting ambition rapidly accelerates but he becomes careless which leads to his death.

Macbeth starts as a normal noble man who has feelings, friends, a wife and he is a war-hero. As time and tragic events elapse, his time as a ruthless killer begins. As soon as he meets the witches and learns of his future as king, he falls for Lady Macbeth’s charm and begins to plot and to think of murder.

My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical

(1.3.9) (Macbeth Ambition Quotes Page 1, 2, 3, 4)

After the witches predict that Macbeth will become king, he thinks of “murder,” even though the witches had not said anything about murder. This brings to question whether the witches are to blame or that the thought of murder had always been there.


[Aside] The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step

On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,

For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;

Let not light see my black and deep desires.(1.4.4)

(Macbeth Ambition Quotes Page 1, 2, 3, 4)

When Malcolm is proclaimed to be the heir to the throne of Scotland, Macbeth sets aside his morality. He knows that killing Duncan to become king is wrong, which is why he doesn’t want any light to “aˆ¦see my black and deep desires.”


[aˆ¦] I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself

And falls on the other. (1.7.1) (Macbeth Ambition Quotes Page 1, 2, 3, 4)

Macbeth realises that his vaulting ambition is all that motivates him to murder Duncan. To him this is not enough to kill a king, which is why after this speech he decides not to go through with it. But of course we know that Lady Macbeth convinces him to murder Duncan later on.

When he is set in front of Duncan at his bedside, Lady Macbeth convinces him to realise that this is the only way. However in doing this evil deed it had made the townspeople suspicious of the other 2 heirs who ran away as they thought they would be next. This meant that Macbeth had to kill Malcolm who was next in line for the iron throne.

At this point Macbeths experiences a series of breakdowns as he begins to lose his mind and his human dignity. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth falls into the trap of a murderous rage.

He believed that this would clear his name, but it only made it worse. Each person he kills results in another. With each kill Macbeth loses his feelings of right and wrong. Macbeth’s principles are soon deteriorated to nothing as his killings become numerous.


[aˆ¦] For mine own good

All causes shall give way. I am in blood

Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,

Returning were as tedious as go o’er. (3.4.24) (Macbeth Ambition Quotes Page 1, 2, 3, 4)

After going on his killing spree, Macbeth suggests that once a man has killed for gain, it is impossible to stop. Macbeth at this point is willing to do anything in order to help himself as he finds it easier to kill. Macbeth believes that he’s got to look out for himself.

After killing Banquo and confronting his ghost, Macbeth breaks down for the last time. At this point Macbeth’s last shred of his morals are gone. Lady Macbeth sudden dies and he shows no remorse. Instead of stopping his killing spree he orders Macduff’s family to be killed. Macbeth at this point has lost complete control as he starts to believe only in the witches prophecy and visions and that he cannot be killed by any man, giving him a false sense of security. He then plans to send assassins to the castle of Macduff which is in England in order to kill his family. On his way to confront and murder Macduff, Macbeth kills a young soldier without question as he does not care. Here he has nothing but become a cold blooded killer.

Near the end of the play, and Macbeth’s killing spree, his transformation is complete as he loses all of his human thoughts and feelings. Macbeth changes from a man of honour to a man of fear and anger as he loses his ability to make decisions and his morality.

In conclusion I believe that this play explores the tragic demise of a good man because of his vaulting ambition because we can see how corrupt a good person can become if one is twisted by the evil supernatural. This is shown through how forces become so powerful over Macbeth that they confuse him and force him into making drastic decisions that change his mind. He has tyrant qualities in the last stages of the play, but the power overwhelms him to succeed and condone these evil deeds. He once was a noble man who has now become a vulnerable and weak target for the desire for power. As a highly respected war-hero to become a cold-blooded killer we can see how the effect of power and his vaulting ambition to become king can lead to the tragic demise of a good man.

Word Count = 970