Ambition is a common downfall for those who seek power. In literature, authors use characters to demonstrate the harmful effects of ambition. Shakespeare, in his play Macbeth, develops the character of Macbeth, who changes from a good-hearted person to evil because of his corrupting power and unchecked ambition. In Act I, Macbeth debates with himself on whether or not to kill Duncan. He considers that, even if Duncan’s murder could be completed without any negative consequences, like getting caught, he still would have to live with guilt.
It could be that he has damaged himself so that he is unable to feel empathy for others - or that the evil is innate. Macbeth displays some very evil characteristics - selfishness, coldness, obsession and cold-blooded murder. Shakespeare explores the degree to which he alone is responsible, and how far others contribute to Macbeth is perhaps Shakespeare's greatest exploration of the problem of evil. Evil is positioned both within and without. The witches are objective figures but Macbeth's first utterance in act 1, scene 3 suggests that he shares a similar thought with the witches.
It seems that most people believe that Macbeth is the real villain of the play, after firstly killing the King but then Banquo and Macduff’s family but through Macbeth’s own ambition and desire for power, Lady Macbeth was able to manipulate and evoke weaknesses in Macbeth’s character to cause his respectable needs as a loyal solider, to turn into evil motivations. In the course of the play Macbeth’s mind changes from thinking logically to thinking unreasonably and acting impulsively on every thought that comes to his mind. The ideas that Lady Macbeth had and the prophesies from the witches came together to lead Macbeth into the conflicted character he become, going from a loyal, respected soldier into a tragic flawed hero. Before Macbeth’s character shifted into villainy he was a loyal and respected thane. His desire for power grew throughout the play and begins when he first encoumis, then they hail him the thane of Cawdor, which he didn’t yet know of, to him soon would be his next, second title.
Macbeth is not merely portrayed as a butcher because at the beginning of the play he has a motive for killing King Duncan, a butcher would kill someone without reason. A butcher can be seen as someone who is heartless and has no self control, but Macbeth does not fit into these conventions as he is in love with Lady Macbeth and he tries to persuade himself not to kill the King, he is just easily influenced by others. Macbeth has reasons for his actions rather than just killing someone for the sake of it, so therefore i would argue that he is not seen as a butcher. His ‘vaulting ambition’ is what drove Macbeth to kill the King; he wanted more than he already had. Macbeth can’t be fully blamed for all of the murders as he didn’t personally commit the crimes he got other people to do them for him.
Shakespeare does a magnificent job by using Macbeth to show the terrible consequences that can result from an unchecked ambition and a guilty conscience. Those elements, combined with a lack of strong character, distinguish Macbeth from Shakespeare's other tragic heroes, such as King Lear and Richard III, both of whom are strong enough to overcome their guilty conscience. Before Macbeth murders Duncan, he is plagued with anxiety and almost does not go along with the plan. It takes his wife, Lady Macbeth's persuasion in order to complete the plot. When is about to kill Duncan, Macbeth sees a dagger covered in blood floating in the air, representing the bloody course he is about to take.
Throughout the play Lady Macbeth is the driving influence behind Macbeth and the immoral path that he chose to follow. To put it simply Lady Macbeth started the rot and persuaded the hesitant and indecisive Macbeth to “be a man” and do the deed of killing Duncan. Macbeth initially decided to “proceed no further” in the matter of killing Duncan because he had been kind to him of late bestowing the position of Thane of Cawdor on him. She responds to this by saying that if he can lose his ambition so readily, his love for her must also be changeable. Then she insults his masculinity and questions his courage.
This shows that Macbeth once again was filled with guilt but again his wife contradicted him and led him down the path of evil. This is the example of the relationship at opposite ends. Macbeth wanted to do the greater good and Lady Macbeth wanted to do the most evil. Evil prevails and it shows a sense of death and darkness through the couple. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are also on the same page
It shows how Shakespeare has depicted the transformation of a good person to a ghastly figure. The effect of evil in Lady Macbeth is also analyzed. The paper also tries to examine whether this evil is purely psychological or has an exterior form. Macbeth’s Transformation from Good to Evil In other tragedies of Shakespeare the evil is concentrated in the antagonists who are able to bring about the ruin of better people than themselves by making use of their weakness: pride, credulity and lust. But in Macbeth the evil is transferred from the villains to the hero and the heroine.
Banquo is juxtaposed to show how an honest man would react to fair-surrounding predictions. Macbeth’s “aside” clearly reveals him to be a man who is morally flawed and susceptible to temtation. Shakespeare’s use of imagery with the three witches makes us realise that the witches only want bad things for Macbeth. They test his character to see if they can corrupt him from his natural state of mind into their evil ways. As such Macbeth is morally vulnerable to them.
showing us that the thought of murder was already at the back of his mind. Macbeth could not have been as honourable and trustworthy as people believed him to be, given that if he had had but a shred of integrity, murder would have been the last thing on his mind. Macbeth is given prophecies by the witches and he is encouraged to act on these suggestions by Lady Macbeth, but he ultimately makes the choices to murder Duncan, Macduff's family and Banquo. The fact that Macbeth feels guilt, fears being caught and fears losing the throne reveals he has hidden anxiety. If Macbeth was truly at the mercy of fate, following the prophesise that was “set out”, he would have no difficulties in carrying out his crimes.