macbeth character analysis essay.

macbeth character analysis essay.


Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s numerous plays that are well developed and enjoyable to read. Shakespeare uses many literary devices to get the attention of his audience. To bring out the meaning of Macbeth, Shakespeare uses many different themes. However, according toJamieson, the central theme of the play is that of ambition. Going through the play, a reader can identify the many instances of ambition portrayed by some of the characters as they try to attain each their objective macbeth character analysis essay. Ambition describes the strong urge to achieve something. Without ambition, even in the real world, it isn’t easy to succeed in anything. However, ambition keeps businesses and individuals going. There are two forms of ambition, negative and positive ambition, which depends on its user. Shakespeare, in driving his theme of ambition, uses Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and Banquo as the main characters. Although ambition is driven by specific agendas, eventually, most of the characters end up getting what they want. Nonetheless, the same intense desire to attain their goals leads to their downfall.

Macbeth’s ambition is triggered by the sorceresses. At the start of the play, Macbeth alongside Banquo meets the witches who give both of them a prophecy concerning their success in the future. According to the witches, Macbeth is to be crowned king while his companion Banquo is to beget kings although he is to never ascend to kingship. At the moment, none of them believes the witches until Macbeth is the men sent by Duncan find the two and thank them for their victory. In addition, Macbeth obtains the good news about his preferment to Thane of Cawdor. It is from this moment that he sees the possibility of the prophecy being fulfilled. Furthermore, when giving their forecast, the witches use convincing and extraordinary language. "hail to thee thane Glamis/hail to thee Thane of Cawdor/ All hail Macbeth that shalt be king hereafter." (Act 1 Scene 1) These words leave Macbeth confused since he is yet to be thane of Cawdor as well king. Due to the news of his promotion, Macbeth trusts anything the witches say as he begins his ambitious journey to kingship macbeth character analysis essay.

The greed for power results in Macbeth committing hideous acts. The hunger drives Macbeth’s ambition at this point for power since he believed that the witches could never mislead him. Although Banquo is his close friend, his desire for power blinds him from remembering his good old days with Banquo. Instead, he now starts seeing Banquo as one of the most significant obstacles to his ascension to kingship, as stated by Knowles(4). Therefore, his ambition leads him to order the death of Banquo. “Tis’ better thee without than he within. Is he dispatched?” (Act 3 Scene 4) This is Macbeth inquiring from the murder to know whether Banquo has been killed. Macbeth’s killing does not end with Banquo. Due to his ambition to retain the throne, he is lead to believe anyone who hails from Banquo’s lineage is a threat to him. He remembers the prophecy of the witches to Banquo that he will be close to kings at all times. Since Banquo is dead, Macbeth’s only real threat is Fleance, Banquo’s heir (Knowles 4). Fleance, having been captured, manages to escape, an act that leaves Macbeth worried. "Then comes my fit again," (Act 3 Scene 4) Macbeth claims that Fleance’s escape threatens his kingship.

Ambition has blinded Macbeth from his harmful actions to the point that he starts suspecting everyone surrounding him as being and acting against him. “Which of you have done this?” (Act 3 Scene 4). Upon being offered a seat at the table, Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo and starts thinking that one of the people is playing tricks on him (Philo 250). Nevertheless, what he fails to understand is that it is his guilty conscience making him see such things because the acts of killing were not justified macbeth character analysis essay

Banquo’s ambitions are different from those of Macbeth. According to the prophecy, Banquo will beget Kings. Therefore, instead of focusing on becoming king, he starts thinking of how he can get his heirs to the throne. However, the does not have a clue about how to make one of his heir’s king. Moreover, his ambition is positive, unlike Macbeth’s. Hence, he does not have reason to kill others. Macbeth gets jealous of Banquo’s ambition, which makes him order for his death. Conversely, Lady Macbeth’s ambitions are similar to those of Macbeth since they are all catalyzed by greed (Frye 102). Lady Macbeth is greedy for power and her aspirations to be Queen make her push Macbeth to murder Duncan, the current king of England. "Thou wouldst be great Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it" (Act 1 Scene 5). Lady Macbeth believes that Macbeth has all it takes but lacks the required will, which results in her pushing Macbeth. All the same, her ambitions lead in her death. Also, Lady Macbeth has a greed for power that pushes her to pressure Macbeth to murder people such as Duncan. According to Lady Macbeth, Macbeth should focus more on energy, which is his central ambition, instead of concentrating on conscience because it can limit him from acquiring a powerful position.

Macbeth’s ambitions blind him leading him to kill his friend Banquo. Additionally, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s ambitions are driven by greed for power. Macbeth’s theme of ambition is a direct portrayal of what happens in the real world where people will do anything to satisfy their desires. Despite everyone else having harmful ambition, Banquo had positive ambition, which is why he never did anything to hurt those around him, unlike Macbeth whose dreams drove him to the extremes of killing Banquo.Macbeth shows that the consequences of ambition are dire, which are portrayed by the chief character Macbeth who starts as a noble character but ends up as a tyrant, which is a significant drop in his character. Neither Macbeth nor Lady Macbeth gets to enjoy the fruits of their ambition because they are driven by greed and acquire power through hideous actions such as killing anyone who stands in the way macbeth character analysis essay.

Work Cited

Knowles, Katherine. "Appetite and Ambition: The Influence of Hunger in Macbeth." Early Modern Studies Journal 2 (2009).

Frye, Roland Muscat. "Macbeth’s Usurping Wife." Renaissance News 8.2 (1955): 102-105.

Jamieson, Lee. “How Ambition Causes Macbeth’s Downfall.” ThoughtCo, 20 Sept. 2019,

Philo, John-Mark. "Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Livy’s Legendary Rome." The Review of English Studies 67.279 (2015): 250-274.

Shakespeare, William. The tragedy of Macbeth. Vol. 2. Classic Books Company, 2001.