Timothy Leary once said, “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition” (Peters 175). But is this true in the case of the classic play Macbeth? In Macbeth it seems to be, that Macbeth the protagonist of the play is influence by Lady Macbeth’s ambition. Could this be an exception or was Lady Macbeth lying when she ask to be equal to a man so she could commit the murder (220.127.116.11-61). To understand one must look deeply into the plot and many themes of Macbeth. William Shakespeare uses ambition among other things to imply may different ideas. Thus, Macbeth’s downfall is a direct cause of Lady Macbeth’s goading and ambition.
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In the beginning of Macbeth, Macbeth is a well respected and loyal Thane of Glamis. He shows no sign of the murderous and ambitious Macbeth later to come; “We will proceed no further in this business. He hath honored me of late” (18.104.22.168-35). Macbeth, becomes Thane of Cawdor, and the reader now see the loyalty of Macbeth disappear. He is now become self-centered and power hungry. The final transformation occurs, “Macbeth a basically good man who is troubled by his conscience and loyalty though at the same time ambitious and murderous,” toward the middle of the play (Rahim 1).
Macbeth like many has several flaws. These flaws cause Macbeth to be influence by Lady Macbeth. The first is that Macbeth is power hungry, once Lady Macbeth gives him her ambitions he becomes crazed with power. He stops at nothing to meet his goals, “After Fleance’s escape, Macbeth’s fear and suspicions fall upon Macduff, whose wife and children he has murdered….” (Campbell 485). Macbeth’s second flaw is his most tragic flaw and it is that he can’t think for himself. This is most evident before Duncan’s murder. At times Macbeth is not wanting to talk about the murder. Then, he has already implemented a plan to kill the king. But, his troubles to think for himself is still very evident after the murder, “Look on’t again I dare not” (22.214.171.124-145). His emotion are both up and down causing Lady Macbeth to at times to think and control him. Causing and leading to Macbeth’s downfall.
Macbeth relationship to Lady Macbeth is not only husband and wife. At times Macbeth becomes depend on Lady Macbeth. Causing Lady Macbeth to make decision for Macbeth. There is no better example of this than act one scenes five and seven. “She Decides to help him gain the crown…. Lady Macbeth decides that Duncan will be killed while staying there” (Rahim 2). Later in scene seven Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth that indeed he wants to kill Duncan.
The play Macbeth is about Macbeth and his changes. That is why we call Macbeth a dramatic character. Often dramatic characters are also tragic heroes or tragic characters. Which Macbeth is, these changes are a cause of Lady Macbeth and how she effects the play in many way. Including Lady Macbeth’s ambition effects Macbeth in turn Macbeth kills Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff’s family. The Murders in turn cause Malcolm and Macduff to revolt against Macbeth. The murders also cause both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to become insane. Because Lady Macbeth is not sane so, she kills herself. Because of Malcolm’s and Macduff’s revolt plus Macbeth sanity causes Macbeth dies a tragic death. In the opening of act five scene seven Macbeth shows his sanity and the situation with him and Malcolm; “They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly, But, bear-like, I must fight the course. What’s he that was not born of women? Such a one am I to fear, or none” (126.96.36.199-4). This show Macbeth was not thinking with a sane mind, any man with a sane mind would run and live to fight another day. Macbeth acts like he is being possessed by fighting after one of the prophesies had already come true.
Lady Macbeth characteristic cause her to be the tragic heroin of Macbeth. She is very ambitious which shows throughout out the play, “She is ambitious but lacks the morals of her husaband” (Rahim 4) She is also very selfish to Macbeth. And not to leave out, Lady Macbeth is cold; “…(Lady Macbeth) claims she would kill a baby at her breast to honor a vow” (Dominic 156). These characteristics plus others are to blame for Lady Macbeth’s false ambition.
The one flaw of Lady Macbeth that stands out the most is her ambition, “Lady Macbeth’s ambition is to get her husband king of Scotland, no matter what the cost” (Fatjoe8 1). Along with ambition Lady Macbeth is also very cold and heartless which can be seen in scene seven of Macbeth when she states that she would kill a baby from her breast. Not only is Lady Macbeth ambitious, heartless but she is weak at heart. She can’t handle the pressure of the murders and deeds Macbeth and her have done. “Lady Macbeth lacks the ultimate hardness of the heart necessary to survive the torture of her conscience,” which ultimately cause her death (Campbell 492).
Lady Macbeth’s relationship to Macbeth is Lady Macbeth wants to be in power so, she pushes Macbeth toward the throne to get it. Yet, there relationship began on love, “Lady Macbeth is a good wife who loves her husband. Until, Lady Macbeth’s ambition and ego cause them to break apart toward the end of Macbeth” (Rahim 7). On the other hand, Lady Macbeth at times acts as Macbeth mother not his wife. This is most evident when Lady Macbeth demands that Macbeth go on with the killing. Or when Macbeth is ranting at the banquet scene, she comforts him like a mother comforting a child.
Some critics say Lady Macbeth causes Macbeth to change throughout Macbeth. This is true, “Macbeth is led to evil by his wife’s goading, which he succumbs to because he loves her so.” (Rahim 3) Lady Macbeth influence Macbeth to kill Duncan and the chambermaid. Later causing Macbeth to kill Banquo and Macduff’s family. If that was not enough she also cause him to become less than a man; “Lady Macbeth taunts him with being less that a man, a coward and even a beast” (Dominic 34). Which leads Macbeth to become less then a man like a baited bear.
Lady Macbeth’s ambition is important to the play because it causes Macbeth to change and kill Duncan and Banquo and make Macbeth a Tragedy. Her ambition is a major theme of Macbeth and William Shakespeare uses it to show how Macbeth was a weak man and not the hero that was the historical Macbeth. Shakespeare uses Lady’s ambition to make as a fatal downfall for both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. Some critics blame, “Lady Macbeth for precipitating Macbeth’s moral decline and ultimate downfall” (Dominic 34).
Macbeth’s characteristics and flaws cause him to be effect by Lady Macbeth. Macbeth changes during the play causing the play Macbeth to change as Lady Macbeth’s ambition effects Macbeth. In fact, Lady Macbeth seeks to be equal with men and indeed has ambition. Lady Macbeth’s ambition is caused by her flaws and characteristics. Her relationship to Macbeth causes her ambition to change Macbeth. Thus, Lady Macbeth’s ambition causes Macbeth’s tragic downfall.