Destructive Ambition in Shakespeare's Macbeth Essays

1671 Words7 Pages
Destructive Ambition in Macbeth William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth presents the fizzled drive of an ambitious husband and wife. This essay is the story of their destructive ambition. Fanny Kemble in "Lady Macbeth" refers to the ambition of Lady Macbeth: [. . .] to have seen Banquo's ghost at the banqueting table ... and persisted in her fierce mocking of her husband's terror would have been impossible to human nature. The hypothesis makes Lady Macbeth a monster, and there is no such thing in all Shakespeare's plays. That she is godless, and ruthless in the pursuit of the objects of her ambition, does not make her such. (118) In "Memoranda: Remarks on the Character of Lady Macbeth," Sarah…show more content…
(792) In "Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action" Francis Fergusson states the place of Macbeth's ambition in the action of the play: It is the phrase "to outrun the pauser, reason [2.3]," which seems to me to describe the action, or motive, of the play as a whole. Macbeth, of course, literally means that his love for Duncan was so strong and so swift that it got ahead of his reason, which would have counseled a pause. But in the same way we have seen his greed and ambition outrun his reason when he committed the murder; and in the same way all of the characters, in the irrational darkness of Scotland's evil hour, are compelled in their action to strive beyond what they can see by reason alone. (106-7) The Tragedy of Macbeth opens in a desert place with thunder and lightning and three Witches who are anticipating their meeting with Macbeth, "There to meet with Macbeth." Macbeth is greeted by the witches with "hail to thee, thane of Glamis," "thane of Cawdor," and "thou shalt be king hereafter!" When Ross and Angus arrive with news of Duncan's reward ("He bade me, from him, call thee thane of Cawdor"), it is logical for Macbeth to assume that all of the weird sisters' prophecies will come true. After the king's announcement that "We will
Open Document