Show MoreThe Corrupting Power of Unchecked Ambition
The main theme of Macbeth-the destruction wrought when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints-finds its most powerful expression in the play's two main characters. Macbeth is a courageous Scottish general who is not naturally inclined to commit evil deeds, yet he deeply desires power and advancement. He kills Duncan against his better judgment and afterward stews in guilt and paranoia. Toward the end of the play he descends into a kind of frantic, boastful madness. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, pursues her goals with greater determination, yet she is less capable of withstanding the repercussions of her immoral acts. One of Shakespeare's most forcefully drawn female characters, she…show more content…
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. The witches? prophecies spark Macbeth?s ambitions and then encourage his violent behavior, Lady Macbeth provides the brains and the will behind her husband?s plotting, and the only divine being to appear is Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft. Arguably, Macbeth traces the root of chaos and evil to women, which has led some critics to argue that this is Shakespeare?s most misogynistic play. 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. Lady Macbeth?s behavior certainly shows that women can be as ambitious and cruel as men. 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. In the scene where Macduff learns of the murders of his wife and child, Malcolm consoles him by encouraging him to take the news in ?manly? fashion, by seeking revenge upon
Corruption and Ambition in Macbeth Essay examples
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The Power of Corruption and Unbridled Ambition in Macbeth
Very few producers of art can actually let their works claim the appellation 'classic.' For to create a piece of work - literature, art, or poetry, that stands the test of time, that proves the author's premise relevant not just in the period when he created it, but also in the generations that follow, is not an easy task. The works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) have, more than once, proved worthy of the title 'classic.' Not only does his work hold up, as he wished, a mirror to his own society, but manages to reflect what is going on much later, and indeed, may be relevant well into the next millennium, if civilization continues to peruse Shakespeare's writing. A…show more content…
Macbeth is one such character. Driven by ambition, by the faith that "If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me, Without my stir," (Act I Scene III), Macbeth is set, from the very beginning, on the path of doom and downfall. The fall is made more spectacular by the heights from which Shakespeare chooses to push his character. It is for this purpose, remarks A W Verity, that the playwright "whitens the character of Duncan and blackens the character of Macbeth in a corresponding degree, for obvious purposes of contrast: he whitens the character of Banquo for the same purpose, but also from a personal and complimentary motive; and he makes Lady Macbeth less odious.... at least unselfish. "Holinshed's Duncan is a young and incapable king, "too soft and gentle of nature," and altogether dependent on Macbeth and Banquo.... His reign, we are told by historians, was as unfortunate as it was brief. Shakespeare's Duncan, a man of years (we are made to feel), is "every inch a king," a regal, illustrious figure; gracious, indeed, and gentle, yet strong withal and capable...."
Macbeth's behaviour, in complete contrast to that of Duncan, as adapted