Skip Nav

Macbeth Theme of Ambition Essay

At a Glance

❶During their debates over which course of action to take, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth use different persuasive strategies.

Navigate Guide

William Shakespeare
From the SparkNotes Blog
Found what you're looking for?

By contrast, Lady Macbeth is fully aware of the difference between fear and guilt, and she attempts to prevent pangs of guilt by first denying her own sense of conscience and then by focusing her attention upon the management of Macbeth's guilt. In the scene which occurs immediately after Duncan's death, Lady Macbeth orders her husband to get some water "and wash this filthy witness from your hand" II. He rejects her suggestion, crying out, "What hands are here.

But she in turn insists that the tell-tale signs of his crime cannot be seen by others, that "a little water clears us of this deed" II.

But midway through the play, Lady Macbeth loses both her influence over her husband and the ability to repress her own conscience. Once her husband has departed to combat against Macduff's forces and Lady Macbeth is left alone, she assumes the very manifestations of guilt that have been associated with Macbeth, insomnia and hallucinations, in even more extreme form. As for the motive behind the theme of guilt, it is ambition for power, and it does not require much for Macbeth to embrace the weird sisters' vision of him as the ruler of all Scotland.

Macbeth is ambitious, but it is Lady Macbeth who is the driving force behind their blood-stained rise to the throne s of Scotland. Lady Macbeth is awesome in her ambition and possesses a capacity for deceit that Shakespeare often uses as a trait of his evil female characters.

Thus, when she greets her prospective victim in Act I, she "humbly" tells King Duncan that she has eagerly awaited his arrival and that her preparations for it are "in every point twice done, and then double done" l. The irony here is that double-dealing and falsity are at hand, and Lady Macbeth's ability to conceal her intentions while at the same time making hidden reference to them has a startling effect upon us.

In the same manner that Lady Macbeth goads her husband on to murder, Macbeth provokes the murderers he hires to kill Banquo by questioning their manhood. Such acts show that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth equate masculinity with naked aggression, and whenever they converse about manhood, violence soon follows. Their understanding of manhood allows the political order depicted in the play to descend into chaos.

At the same time, however, the audience cannot help noticing that women are also sources of violence and evil. While the male characters are just as violent and prone to evil as the women, the aggression of the female characters is more striking because it goes against prevailing expectations of how women ought to behave.

Whether because of the constraints of her society or because she is not fearless enough to kill, Lady Macbeth relies on deception and manipulation rather than violence to achieve her ends. Ultimately, the play does put forth a revised and less destructive definition of manhood.

Macduff shows the young heir apparent that he has a mistaken understanding of masculinity. During their debates over which course of action to take, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth use different persuasive strategies. Their differences can easily be seen as part of a thematic study of gender roles.

However, in truth, the difference in ways Macbeth and Lady Macbeth rationalize their actions is essential to understanding the subtle nuances of the play as a whole. Macbeth is very rational, contemplating the consequences and implications of his actions. He recognizes the political, ethical, and religious reason why he should not commit regicide. In addition to jeopardizing his afterlife, Macbeth notes that regicide is a violation of Duncan's "double trust" that stems from Macbeth's bonds as a kinsman and as a subject.

On the other hand, Lady Macbeth has a more passionate way of examining the pros and cons of killing Duncan. She is motivated by her feelings and uses emotional arguments to persuade her husband to commit the evil act. Previous William Shakespeare Biography. Next Major Symbols and Motifs. Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title.

Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? Scene 1 Act I: Scene 2 Act I: Scene 3 Act I: Scene 4 Act I: Scene 5 Act I: Scene 6 Act I: Scene 7 Act II: Scene 1 Act II: Scene 2 Act II: Scene 3 Act II: Scene 4 Act III: Scene 1 Act III: Scene 2 Act III:

Learn more

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

In Macbeth, William Shakespeare's tragedy about power, ambition, deceit, and murder, the Three Witches foretell Macbeth's rise to King of Scotland but also prophesy that future kings will descend from Banquo, a fellow army captain.

Privacy FAQs

Macbeth study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. About Macbeth Macbeth Summary.

About Our Ads

In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth evil is conveyed in many ways through characters, themes and settings. Many themes are explored in detail contributing hugely to the sense of evil with characters being used along with these themes to create evil within the characters. The Themes of Women and Ambition in Hamlet and Macbeth Essay - Throughout Shakespeare's Hamlet and Macbeth, there are two prominent themes: the negative impact of women and ambition. In Hamlet, misogyny, or the strong dislike toward women are greatly shown throughout the play because of his mother Gertrude and his lover .

Cookie Info

Macbeth Theme of Ambition Essay. Macbeth Themes Essay Macbeth, another brilliant written piece by the famous William Shakespeare, is about a great warrior who gets overly greedy about hearing a prophecy of him eventually becoming king. Macbeth goes onto a killing spree and eliminates anyone who gets in the way of the throne. Religious Themes in Macbeth Essay Words | 6 Pages. William Shakespeare wrote the play Macbeth in approximately The play is a tragedy and this can be often identified before we have even read the play. The title “Macbeth” alone suggests the genre of the play is a tragedy as it is the name of a character.