My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man that function Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is But what is not.(1. 3. 9)
After the weird sisters predict that Macbeth will be king, his thoughts turn to “murder,” which the sisters have said nothing about. Could it be that the witches’ prophesy awakens within Macbeth a murderous ambition that was there all along?”
The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. (1.4.4)
By the time Malcolm is proclaimed Prince of Cumberland and heir to the throne of Scotland, Macbeth is willing to push all morality aside. He knows that killing Duncan in order to become king is wrong, which is why he says it’s necessary to hide his “black and deep” desires. Here, ambition is portrayed as something dark and ugly.
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it.” (I.v., 2-5).
After reading the letter from her husband (which recounts the witches’ prophesy), Lady Macbeth’s thoughts immediately turn to murder. In her mind, Macbeth must take action if he is to become king. Macbeth, she says, is certainly not without “ambition. ” The problem, as Lady Macbeth sees it, is that her husband is too “kind” to do what’s necessary to achieve “greatness.
I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself And falls on the other. ” (1. 7. 1)| As Macbeth deliberates, he realizes that “vaulting ambition” is all that compels him to the heinous act of murdering Duncan and that his intent is nothing but personal gain. This is not enough to justify the act of killing a king, which is why he resolves to not go through with it after this speech. Of course, we know that Macbeth (with some encouragement from his wife) does murder Duncan.
For mine own good All causes shall give way. I am in blood Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er. ” (3. 4. 24)| By comparing his heinous actions to wading through a bloody river, Macbeth suggests that once a man commits a murderous act for his own gain, it’s impossible to stop. Turning back would be “tedious. ” By this point, Macbeth is willing to anything in order to help himself and it’s becomes easier for him to commit evil deeds. According to Macbeth, he’s got to look out for his own best interests.
Either thou, Macbeth, Or else my sword, with an unbatter’d edge, I sheathe again undeeded. There thou shouldst be; By this great clatter, one of greatest note Seems bruited. Let me find him, Fortune! And more I beg not. ” (5. 8. 1)| Macduff’s only ambition is to kill Macbeth, the man who has murdered his wife and children. He has no interest in personal gain and is the first character in the play to understand that Fortune rules you, you don’t rule Fortune. This is a certain indicator that he’ll be the one to take down the tyrant, who is always challenging destiny.