Ambition is the fire in one’s mind that drives people to find the path to success. This trait will influence one’s every move for better or worse depending on the goal trying to be met and what must be done to achieve the goal. When one finds the desire for a place, the ideals from right and wrong become overshadowed and triggers a downward spiral to a loss of everything once loved. Throughout the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s journey to acquire power perfectly exemplifies this situation in which one’s true character comes out when ambition plays a role in one’s thinking. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses diction, paradoxes, and foreshadowing as a way to convey that ambition is the drive of human nature by reversing the roles and thoughts of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
Shakespeare uses diction to prove ambition can lead one to great success but while doing so opens the gates to who one truly is. The author suggests that when one blocks the “passage to remorse” (Shakespeare 1.5-47) it gives rise to the “smoke of hell” (Shakespeare 1.5-54) inside oneself. If a reader is receptive to this message one can understand any person can change from a newfound idea and turn against anything in the way of it. This has shown anybody can lose one’s conscience from being blinded by the goals set in front of oneself, which most often are just as rewarding as being harmful. Shakespeare’s use of diction portrays the effects of desire that will take precedence over any moral value.
In Macbeth, the author uses foreshadowing to show readers what one wants is not always as good as it seems. It is continually depicted that “the affliction of these dreams” in many people’s heads (Shakespeare 3.2-20) are often “torture of the mind” (Shakespeare 3.2-23) and not as fulfilling as it seems when one actually holds control of it. Shakespeare presents readers with the opportunity to learn that one must not leave greed unchecked and let it grow until it is all one wants. In Macbeth, it is shown anyone can achieve power and dominance but who is able to hold it is the true test of how ambitious one is. The purpose for using foreshadowing in Macbeth was to show one’s inner self determines whether one keeps their true self hidden under the surface or let it all come out, and throughout the story, the main characters showed this when greed became a role in matters of action.
In the play Macbeth, ambition gets the best of the main character and this is shown through the use of paradoxes. While one goes through life the idea of ambition and greed will set in many people’s minds resulting in many different outcomes of “battle’s lost and won” (Shakespeare 1.1-4) which will cause “suffer, and more sundry ways than ever.” (Shakespeare 4.3-48) When one becomes over-ambitious one will suffer a terrible downfall from pushing away everything that helped one get to the top. Shakespeare wants readers to learn evil is inside of everyone and those who are able to control it are the ones who are successful in the end. Through the use of paradoxes, the author gives the readers a detailed description of what humankind is and how one’s actions are a reaction to how much greed has taken over one’s mind.
Shakespeare’s use of diction, foreshadowing, and paradoxes relay to the audience that ambition is a key attribute in all people that pushes one to rise above and effect change. While having an ambitious mind is good it can lead to trouble with one not knowing the limits of when to stop. Macbeth is a genuine depiction of the struggling man has with ambition.
- Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Advanced Language & Literature: for Honors and Pre-AP English Courses, by Renée Hausmann Shea et al., Bedford, Freeman & Worth, 2016, pp. 255–313.