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Vaulting Ambitions



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    A favorable character trait, when carried to the point of obsession, can often have disastrous effects. William Shakespeare particularly highlights this idea in his tragedy Macbeth. Macbeth’s actions are the result of his ambitions to be king. Macbeth’s reaction to the witches’ prophecies is one example of his ambition to be king. Macbeth is told he will become Thane of Cawdor and soon after king. When he hears the news, he takes it seriously; meanwhile, Banquo is uncertain about what has been told. Ross and Angus arrive to tell Macbeth that he has become the Thane of Cawdor.

    Macbeth then realizes that two of the prophecies have come true. Macbeth wants to become king. The temptation of murder ran through his mind.Macbeth wants to fulfill his ambition to be king. Killing Duncan is vital in this case. Initially, he is hesitant, but by the help of his wife and “his vaulting ambition”, he kills Duncan. It is noted that “Having succumbed to his ambition to gain the crown by whatever means, Macbeth murders Duncan, a guest in his own castle, and this deed inexorably commits him to a career of evil which leads to ruin” (Lamar 8). Afterward, Macbeth is feeling a bit guilty.

    He feels as though his hands can never be purified again. But Macbeth is still on this “killing streak.” He kills the guards because he thinks they know what he has done. Since two prophecies have come true, the third, that Banquo’s heirs will be kings, is assumed by Macbeth to be valid also. Macbeth wants to keep his power. This “killing spree” has not stopped yet. In order to keep power, therefore, Macbeth must kill Banquo and his son, Fleance. Banquo is killed, and Fleance has escaped. Macbeth does not want anyone to know what murders he has committed. He says ” False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” Macbeth’s ambition leads to paranoia.

    Vaulting Ambitions. (2018, Feb 03). Retrieved from

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