The play Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, shows the affect of desire for power on a man. The leading man in the play Macbeth is the character Macbeth. The initial impression of Macbeth is a brave and loyal servant. He has respect for his king and is willing to give his life for him. However, throughout the play the reader can see Macbeth’s, ambition, heartlessness and envious nature come out.
Ambition is a dangerous quality. Macbeth’s great ambition is the reason for his downfall. Macbeth is driven by the three witches prophecy and Lady Macbeth. Macbeth’s first interaction with the three witches is in act 1 scene 3. After the three witches tell Macbeth that he will become king he says, “Stay, you imperfect speakers. Tell me more.” (Line 73). This line shows that Macbeth is determined to know more about his future. Macbeth will stop at nothing to make sure the prophecies come true. The closer Macbeth is to being king the more heartless he becomes.
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Lady Macbeth pushes Macbeth to kill King Duncan by questioning his manhood: “When you durst do it, then you were a man; And, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man.” (line 37). Macbeth has some remorse but still murders King Duncan. It is after the murder of King Duncan that the heartless side of Macbeth comes out. Macbeth tries to get rid of anyone that he sees as a threat including his friend Banquo. After that the number of people murdered by Macbeth gradually increases. Macbeth will stop at nothing. How does Macbeth end up so heartless that he can hear about is wife committing suicide that he shows no sincerity? It is because he has been so gullible since the very beginning.
Aside from Macbeth being ambitious and heartless, he is very envious. Envy is an emotion which "occurs when a person lacks another's superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it"
At the beginning of he play in act 1 scene 3, Macbeth is with the three witches and they say, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane if Glamis! All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” (lines 50-52). The predictions caused Macbeth to wonder. Since Macbeth is envious his wonder brought forth a feeling of possibility. Macbeth wants what he doesn’t have. The prophecies poison his mind, making him greedy and bringing out the terrible qualities of Macbeth. The witches did not tell Macbeth on how his future will play out so he took fate into his own hands. Once the first prophecy comes true there is a gigantic ripple affect that takes Macbeth’s greed and envy to another level. His downfall is apparent because he wants what he isn’t destined to have.
Macbeth can best be described as a tragic hero. A tragic hero is a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy that is destined for downfall, suffering or defeat. William Shakespeare uses the play Macbeth to tell how greed and power can lead to destruction by the choices someone makes. The character of Macbeth starts off as the hero. He is a well-respected man and a valiant servant to the king, but he let ambition, heartlessness, and enviousness get in the way of greatness.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Washington Press, 1992.