A huge theme in William Shakespeare’s play MacBeth is ambition. In the play the two main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s ambition turns from good to evil as they start to perform evil acts like lying to numerous people and murdering their own king. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is determined to do good works so that he will be well known and remembered. Then Lady Macbeth’s longing for the crown causes her to be very manipulative. She persuades her husband to do evil and once Macbeth does what she wants, they are caught into a spiral of evil doings.
In the very beginning of the play, Macbeth and his army defeat Norway and a group of Scottish rebels in a civil war led by the Thane of Cawdor. After the last battle of the civil war, Macbeth and another soldier named Banquo have an encounter with three witches. The witches tell Macbeth that he will become the Thane of Cawdor and then later he will become the king of Scotland. The witches also tell Banquo that his descendants will become kings one day too but he will not be one. When Macbeth and Banquo visit King Duncan after the war, King Duncan names Macbeth as the new Thane of Cawdor and orders for the old Thane of Cawdor to be executed. Macbeth is proud of his achievement and his ambition to be a loyal and powerful general to King Duncan has caused him to become successful and gain the King’s respect. This ambition will change soon though after he tells Lady Macbeth about the witches’ prophecies.
After Macbeth is named the Thane of Cawdor he sends a letter to his wife, Lady Macbeth, and tells her about the witches and their predictions. Macbeth thinks upon the prediction that he will become King and says “If chance will have me King, why chance may crown me with out my stir.” This quote means that if Macbeth is to become King, it will happen without him having to do anything. King Duncan invites himself to Macbeth’s castle. She knows that Macbeth is ambitious but fears he is too noble to make sure the prediction of him becoming King is fulfilled. As Lady Macbeth reads Macbeth’s letter she reads its contents saying “I fear thy nature, it is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness.” This quote means Macbeth has too much inner goodness to perform a murder. Lady Macbeth’s ambition and longing to have power is straight away evil. She calls on evil spirits to help her carry out the murder of King Duncan and so that Macbeth would be crowned earlier. She says “Unsex me here of direst cruelty,” this quote means she wants the spirits to take away her femininity and make her most bitter. To begin with, Macbeth is indecisive about the Murder, but when his wife accuses him of cowardliness and lack of love for her, he changes his mind. She manipulates his decision and forces him to commit the crime. He says “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition.” This quote means that he has no reason to commit murder but his ambition is causing him to do it.
Macbeth kills King Duncan and is crowned shortly after Duncan’s heirs, Malcolm and Donalbain, run away because they think that they might get murdered too. Thing have gone just as he and Lady Macbeth had planned. Macbeth’s good ambition at the beginning of the play has quickly changed to evil due to his wife’s manipulating and his own selfish ambition. After King Duncan is killed, Banquo becomes suspicious because of the witches’ prophecies, and suspects that Macbeth was the one who committed the murder. Banquo says “I fear thou play’dst most foully for’t.” This quote proves that he is suspicious because he thinks and fears that Macbeth has plotted against and killed the King in order for the Witches prediction to be fulfilled. Macbeth knows that Banquo is suspicious and he is concerned and feels threatened by the prediction that Banquo’s sons will become Kings also. This is when he decides to have Banquo and his two sons killed. Macbeth says “I am in blood stepped so far that should I wade no more,” this quote means that Macbeth is already so advanced in this murderous course that it is easier to go on then to go back. Macbeth wants to be King so much that he has decided not to back out of this evil path no matter how guilty and regretful he had become. His ambition was to have power and that’s what he got. His ambition had dramatically changed and was the complete opposite of the good ambition he had at the beginning of the playscript.
In the playscript ‘Macbeth’ written by William Shakespeare, the main characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth change from having good ambition to having evil ambition. Their ambition changes because Macbeth finds out he is to become king and this causes them to tamper with the future and commit many murders and evil doings. Their ambition led to both of their deaths.