Human society burdens itself with generating organizational systems of rank to distinguish groups of people. Ambition â€” the quest for power â€” is a foremost drive embedded in the human spirit that motives men to better themselves. This quest is seen in Shakespeareâ€™s tragic play Macbeth with the titular character who strives to achieve and maintain ultimate power. The central aspect of Macbeth lies with the title characterâ€™s desire to both follow and diverge from his destiny. After hearing of his future greatness from the seemingly omnipotent Weird Sisters, Macbeth comes to realize the latent ambition trapped within him (Act 1, Scene III). This initial realization of potential unbars him from his prior self (a life of both honor and prestige) to transcend his well-established morals. Macbeth yearns for power over his country and over his fellow man, ambitions that lead him down a dark and bloody path. Shakespeare uses this fall from good graces to demonstrate to readers the cost of being overambitious. Prophecy foretold of Macbethâ€™s future rule as king and alluded to his eventual fate with a message of warning. However, in contrast of the warning to be wary, it was also said that no man born of a woman â€” as every man is â€” held decisive power over Macbeth (Act 4, Scene I). This bold statement lends greatly to the expansion of Macbethâ€™s irrationality during his later tirades. His overly ambitious quest for power motivates him to prematurely end the life of the current king, an act he has no need to execute, for had the prophecy of his kingship really been true, heâ€™d have been crowned sooner or later, but his lust for power blinds him to this fact (Act 1, Scene V). Given his reputation as a war hero, none surmount the treachery of suspecting Macbeth of committing such a crime, especially when the cover-up was so well planned. For this reason, Macbeth could work behind the scenes, plotting his takeover of the country and none would dare suspect malicious intentions from him. In this way, his ambition was unchecked. As mentioned, Macbeth entirely disregards the prophecy warning that certain dangers threaten his prosperity as king. He does this not due to a lack of superstition; he clearly believes in the Weird Sistersâ€™ words of praise and success. He does so because he holds the premonition of fortune on higher grounds that that of misfortune. Thus, that men are blinded by ambition is another message Shakespeare hoped to convey. The very same ambition â€” rather, the fear of losing the product of that ambition â€” led Macbeth to challenge the same prophecy that granted him the throne. He sought victory over all, took up arms against fate, and marched towards an undefeatable destiny by slaughtering any kinsmen with a possibility of stealing the throne away from him (Act 3, Scene I). These repeated ventures into meaningless manslaughter lead him further down a destructive path laid out for him by his desire for power. The desire corrupts him, and greater forces rise in opposition. Shakespeareâ€™s powerful storytelling shines here as Macbethâ€™s obsession with power is met by the force of balance. Macbeth oversteps his bounds to prematurely attain a rank already in his possession; as a reaction, the righteous force of Macduff, a man seeking only the best for the country, rose to oppose him. Herein we discover the most important of messages: ambition void of righteousness leads nowhere. Macduff also sought power, power over those who would bring forth the destruction of his beloved country. Ina conflict between two opposing power-seekers, as Shakespeare makes evident by the death of Macbeth by the hands of Macduff, the more righteous force is destined to prevail (Act V, Scene VII). Macbeth suffered from a devastating internal conflict: coming to terms with the idea that one lived with strength to usurp his power. Swollen with pride, he denied that any such being existed and thus became further susceptible to Macduffâ€™s greater strength. Shakespeare conveys how the quest for power is a truly crippling experience when taken outside the bounds of rational thought. His character Macbeth actively seeks what is owed to by by the passage of time and ultimately pays the price for his misjudgment. Had Macbeth rationalized the situations presented to him by the Weird Sisters, heâ€™d have taken their words as the prophecy of a reward for his national pride, not as instruments of corruption.
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