“Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals. ” – Buddha. Buddha was a wise man and knew that someone who is ambitious can get very impatient when it comes to delaying their plan and having rivals that share the same goals. Ambition is often the result of one good thing happening which leads to one pursuing their dreams more and more. Although ambition can be a good thing, it can also be bad. Twisting people’s judgment on reality and making them perform actions they wouldn’t normally do.
Such is the case in Macbeth where ambition causes Macbeth to go through with a murderous plot to become king that involves his wife plotting the murder and going insane. In the play Macbeth, Shakespeare expresses the theme of ambition by characterization, conflict and foreshadowing. Shakespeare’s use of characterization helps him communicate the theme of ambition. “My noble partner. You greet with present grace … and great prediction Of noble having and of royal hope, That he seems rapt withal. To me you speak not. If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear your favors nor your hate. ” (1. 3. 2). Shakespeare is portraying how greatly welcomed Macbeth is. Even though he had just become Thane of Cawdor without having to do anything, he is still praised, thus fueling his ambition to fulfill the three witches’ prophecy. “Shakespeare’s character’s plan is much more prone to disaster: the invitation is to a large, well-attended feast, and the murder occurs beforehand, so that the murdered guests are sooner missed and suspicion is sooner aroused. ” (Holinshed).
Looking back at Macbeth now, King Duncan’s murder was not well thought out and could have been planned and timed better if it were not for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s ambition to have Macbeth king. If it were not for their ambition, the possibility of a better planned murder could have been involved. “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir. “(1. 3. 137). This quote shows that Macbeth is a “cocky” character. Once he was named Thane of Cawdor, he was very sure of himself to be named king of Scotland.
Even though he knew he’d be King, he thought it was taking too long and decided to plot to rid himself of the King. King Duncan, too, can be significantly “fleshed out”… Often he is played as a weak, doddering old man — perhaps as counterpoint to the virile young Macbeth… “(Holinshed). Characterization plays another role by depicting certain characters as weak and defenseless. Such is the case for King Duncan. He is occasionally casted as an old man, thought to be frail and easily disposable. Yet, the Thane of Glamis, Macbeth, is a lively young man who could easily take out several men, thus making the conflict between King Duncan and Macbeth completely one-sided.
Through the use of characterization, Shakespeare portrays some characters of Macbeth as very ambitious and egotistical, leading to many conflicts within the play. Shakespeare’s practice of conflict aides him commune the theme of ambition. “Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men bestride our downfall’n birthdom. ” (4. 3. 3). Shakespeare is telling of a great battle to come. Macduff advise his troops to grab a sword and defend their homeland. Their homeland being Scotland, which is now ruled by Macbeth. The soldiers will now have to defend their homeland from their own King. Lady Macbeth, beforehand there is no hesitation, no sign of any internal conflict in her, … the question afterwards arises of preserving the aim of her ambition, which has been attained through a crime. ” (Freud). Lady Macbeth is an example of conflict all in herself. At the beginning of the play, she has no signs of wanting anything more, yet as the story unfolds, she is shown as a woman who will use people to get what she wants. No matter what is in her way, she will use people as her pawns and remove anything in her path. She is a sign of inner conflict.
Conflicting with herself over plotting King Duncan’s murder. “… Nought’s had, all’s spent, where our desire is not without content: ’tis safer to be that which we destroy, than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. ” (3. 2. 4). When she has become Queen through the murder of Duncan, she portrays for a moment something like disappointment, something like disillusionment. Her mind begins to become warped and distorts her ambition, driving her insane in the process. “The Weird Sisters assured Macbeth that he himself should be king, but to Banquo they promised that his children should succeed to the crown.
Macbeth is incensed by this decree of destiny. He is not content with the satisfaction of his own ambition. He wants to found a dynasty — not to have murdered for the benefit of strangers. ” (Freud). This act alone of the witches will ensure a conflict between Macbeth and Banquo. Macbeth not wanting Banquo’s children to have the throne, believing they did not earn it. This lead to Macbeth hiring men to kill Banquo. Thus ensuring that Macbeth and his family will rule Scotland, or so he thought. Conflict is a main theme of any story and Macbeth is no different.
Yet, some conflict can be lead to by even the slightest foreshadowing. Shakespeare uses foreshadowing to assist him portray the theme of ambition. “All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king … hereafter! […] Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none: so all hail, Macbeth and Banquo! ” (1. 3. 6). This is quite obvious foreshadowing as the witches predict what will happen to Macbeth. They are literally foreshadowing or pretelling events to come in the play. Also, if it had not been for this event, there would be no storyline. Macbeth would have much less ambition to become king, having not been told that he would be. Macbeth’s decade of good rule is eliminated — his decay is swift and sudden after Duncan’s murder. ” (Holinshed). Raphael speaks of how quickly Macbeth dies in comparison to King Duncan.
Possibly some foreshadowing from Shakespeare. Duncan’s murder and death were fairly long compared to Macbeth’s which was only but a few lines, possibly foretelling that better rulers had a greater death. Macbeth had become a coward at the end of the play when he found out that Macduff was not “born of a woman” and therefore able to kill the King. “Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, as … he weird women promised, and I fear Thou play’dst most foully for’t; yet it was said It should not stand in thy posterity, But that myself should be the root and father Of many kings. If there come truth from them (As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine) Why, by the verities on thee made good, May they not be my oracles as well And set me up in hope? But hush, no more. ” (3. 1. 1). Macbeth wishes to be more than Thane of Cawdor but to be nothing less than King. His constant wanting of a higher title has brought him nothing but a quick spot in the spotlight.
He would have lived much longer and might possibly have made King anyway if it were not for his ambition. “… The grander scheme, Shakespeare’s alterations function to convey the sentiment echoed in many of his works – that there is a divine right of kings, and that to usurp the throne is a nefarious crime against all of humanity. ” (Mabillard) This quote suspects a greater foreshadowing that encompasses most if not all of Shakespeare’s works. Shakespeare’s stories, plays and poems all had a bit of foreshadowing that lead to the a tragedy. Foreshadowing is a great theme to any story and an excellent combination with ambition.
Characterization, conflict and foreshadowing are all used by Shakespeare to show his views of ambition. Characterization, it’s what aids stories and plays along. Without it, they are nothing and Macbeth certainly wouldn’t be anything if the characters were not ambitious. Most plays or stories wouldn’t be very good if ambition was absent. Conflict is what makes any story interesting. Macbeth would have been dull if there was no conflict at all. Conflict is what writers use to spice up their writings, so to speak. Without any conflict, a story would have no climax.
No rising action or falling action. None. It’s be empty. Foreshadowing can keep the readers on the edge of their seat by giving them little hints of events to come. The witches from Macbeth foreshadow the play very well. Foreshadowing can even include other elements of writing. Such as symbolism and characterization. There are many examples of ambition in the modern day. Today, you may hear many stories of both men and women making their lives successful because of a dream. A dream that possibly started when they were little or when a certain event happened. A dream today is known as ambition.