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Vaulting Ambition in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Vaulting Ambition in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Ambition is a strong desire or drive to succeed or achieve something. It can help a person to strive at getting something they want. If someone wants something badly enough, their ambition will help them not give up until they achieve at getting what they want. But also, if a person has too much ambition, it could make that person do destructive things to get what they want and they will hurt anyone or anything that gets in their way.

Ambition can be a positive thing or a negative thing. It is a positive thing when it helps you reach a certain goal and strive for something that is good. It is a negative thing when you let it take over, and you lose track of your original goal, and forget about your morals and about everyone around you. The only thing you care about is what you want, and you will do anything in your power to get it. This happens frequently in our world.

I remember one time when I was younger and I ran for president of student council. Some of my close friends also ran. Even though they were my friends, I did everything I could to try to make people dislike them and like me. I told lies, and I hurt my friends. I began to lose track of the positive goal, and I turned my ambition into something negative. I soon didn’t have any friends and I also did not get elected for president. This was because I did things that were negative and destructive, and I lost track of my goal

In the play Macbeth, Macbeth’s ambition was to become king. But the only that he saw fit to become king was to kill Duncan. Duncan and Macbeth were cousins, and Duncan was a kind person to Macbeth. But Macbeth was blinded by his ambition. Macbeth said, “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on the other,” (Act I Scene VII). By this quote, Macbeth meant that the only reason he sees to kill Duncan was because he wanted to become king. He didn’t think about the future consequences or repercussions. At first Macbeth was loyal, but his ambition overcame his morals a kind-heartedness and made him evil.

Unbridled Ambition in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Unbridled Ambition in Macbeth

Where is there a page in William Shakespeare’s tragic play Macbeth which does not present the selfish virtue of personal ambition. This paper addresses the problem of ambition in the drama.

In “Memoranda: Remarks on the Character of Lady Macbeth,” Sarah Siddons mentions the ambition of Lady Macbeth and its effect:

[Re “I have given suck” (1.7.54ff.)] Even here, horrific as she is, she shews herself made by ambition, but not by nature, a perfectly savage creature. The very use of such a tender allusion in the midst of her dreadful language, persuades one unequivocally that she has really felt the maternal yearnings of a mother towards her babe, and that she considered this action the most enormous that ever required the strength of human nerves for its perpetration. Her language to Macbeth is the most potently eloquent that guilt could use. (56)

Clark and Wright in their Introduction to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare interpret the main theme of the play as intertwining with evil and ambition:

While in Hamlet and others of Shakespeare’s plays we feel that Shakespeare refined upon and brooded over his thoughts, Macbeth seems as if struck out at a heat and imagined from first to last with rapidity and power, and a subtlety of workmanship which has become instructive. The theme of the drama is the gradual ruin through yielding to evil within and evil without, of a man, who, though from the first tainted by base and ambitious thoughts, yet possessed elements in his nature of possible honor and loyalty. (792)

In “Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action” Francis Fergusson states the place of Macbeth’s ambition in the action of the play:

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…iion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Johnson, Samuel. The Plays of Shakespeare. N.p.: n.p.. 1765. Rpt in Shakespearean Tragedy. Bratchell, D. F. New York, NY: Routledge, 1990.

Kemble, Fanny. “Lady Macbeth.” Macmillan’s Magazine, 17 (February 1868), p. 354-61. Rpt. in Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth., no lin.

Siddons, Sarah. “Memoranda: Remarks on the Character of Lady Macbeth.” The Life of Mrs. Siddons. Thomas Campbell. London: Effingham Wilson, 1834. Rpt. in Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.

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