Shakespeare's Macbeth - Ambition inevitably leads to selfishness and greed

Essay by omniromHigh School, 10th gradeA+, September 2004

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Throughout William Shakespeare's enticing play, Macbeth, he explores several extremely interesting themes which perfectly correspond to our everyday lives. One of the most applicable of these many themes is the notion that wealth and power, both of which are created by ambition, are not the most important things to life. Furthermore, William Shakespeare even seems to express that aspirations, when taken to their extremities, can lead one to commit horrible acts in order to fulfill their ambitious goals.

In the beginning of act one, Shakespeare portrayed Macbeth as a brave and honorable general who received high praises and admiration from everyone around him. This praise even included the king of Scotland, King Duncan, who honored Macbeth for his triumphant defeat of the Norwegian rebel, MacDonwald. In scene three of act one, the three weird witches approached Macbeth and prophesied that he was going to become the Thane of Cawdor, and in time, the king of Scotland.

At first, the aghast Macbeth scoffed their remarks and didn't believe their outlandish prophecies. However, soon he would be proved wrong when Ross and Angus arrived to tell him that the king had just named him Thane of Cawdor. This message proves to be one of the most integral events of Shakespeare's Macbeth, and can even be considered the turning point of the novel, despite being so early on in the text. From this point onward, Macbeth will be filled with ambitious thoughts, initially starting with innocent aspirations, yet later, becoming horrible murderous acts.

Throughout act one and two, Macbeth's ambition, greed, and spite gradually increases from a point of heroism to a climax of pure disgust. Immediately upon receiving the word of his newly appointed title of the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth instantly turned towards malevolent thoughts of murdering the...