The Tragedy of Macbeth

The Tragedy and Macbeth’s Ambition

Feb 6, 2020 at Free Literature Essays Online as Urgent Writing Help


The tragedy of Macbeth was created three years after the death of Queen Elizabeth and the coronation of Stuart - James I, the son of beheaded Scottish Queen Mary. The tragedy is based on the story from Scottish history; it is rather a political response to the era than a piece of art. The play shows the relationship between the king and his people. The composition reveals several motives: it condemns a passion for power as lusting and unfair methods of obtaining power. However, the main leitmotif of the composition discusses the issue of power which does not bring a benefit to the nation, nor makes sense. Finally, it turns against the ruler.

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The play shows the problem of Macbeth’s ambition. Shakespeare revealed the way the ambition mutilates the man. Before his hero did not know the limits of his courage, now he does not know the limits of his ambition which transforms the great general into the criminal tyrant, a killer. Macbeth is tormented by only his own impulses and passions fueled by the evil genius of Lady Macbeth. Love of power is inherent in his very nature. A whole era image is acute in "Macbeth": “But cruel are the times” (Shakespeare).

This epoch of wars has revealed the passion of the main hero. “You have anticipated, time, my terrible acts ", - Macbeth says. However, this passion for power is the only superficial problem of Macbeth. Shakespeare further develops the problem. He does not condemn the increasing desire for power, instead, he blames the desire to gain power by any means.


Shakespeare gave a philosophical interpretation of the problem regarding the bloody way of gaining power. The following scene is full of deep symbolism. Lady Macbeth sees her bloody hands, she has no way to erase the traces of blood, as it is her imagination. In the composition, the blood on her fingers is the culmination of the main theme development. The power, which is gained at the cost of blood, depicts a tragedy. Throne of Macbeth is in the blood of the killed King, the blood cannot be removed from his conscience, as well as from the hands of Lady Macbeth. Therefore, one of the main keynotes of the tragedy condemns such as access to authority. One should earn respect by fair means; it should not be extracted from blood.

The tragedy of power has more profound implications. For instance, one can be ambitious to gain some power but when he gets it even in a dishonest and bloody way, he should serve the people. All power makes people suffer referring to the social relations of that time. Shakespeare saw the salvation of such a disaster caused by brutal tyranny in the replacement of the tyrant-king with the real kind man on the throne. Thus, the murdered Duncan is described as "Serene King". He has the features of character necessary for such an ideal King, are even almost determined (Shakespeare):

“The king-becoming graces,

As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,

Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,

Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude...”

Moreover, Malcolm makes Macduff think as he is able to win the one who destroyed the social order and end immensely with raging chaos in the interest of the nation (Shakespeare). He relies on the confidence of the nation which perceives Macbeth as a tyrant. This argues that all power built on violence and oppression of the people is evil.

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The tyrant makes a great attack on humanity. Furthermore, not only dangerous for Macbeth people are killed but also their wives and children. Unexampled fury of the tyrant turns any social order into chaos. However, the bright dream of the liberation of the people lives, passionate love to nation sounds in a loud voice (Shakespeare):

Bleed, bleed, poor country...

In "Macbeth", the topic of the good for the nation is highlighted as the problem of the people suffering, doomed to a murderous despot. The poor, bleeding nation where the evil reigns and the violence prevails is the basic background of the tragedy. The nation is behind the scenes of the drama (Shakespeare). Analyzing the text of the play it is possible to assume that the writer did not concern the tragedy of the hero as he focused more on the tragedy of all nations (Shakespeare). The nation, its dreams, and its hopes play the role of an antagonist to Macbeth in the composition. The nation is the reality that confronts delusional visions of Macbeth. For instance, the nation is not silent under the power of the tyranny. Instead, their voice, still fragile, hoarse, and drowned, breaks during the events. It sounds in speeches of the patriots including Macduff, Ross, Malcolm, and others. Even in the divinations of prophetic Sisters, it is heard its remote response. These mysterious beings are created by the imagination of the nation, and they have their common sense.

Assassins' images truly depict the relation between power and the nation. These people are branded as tramps, but outside the law. They have a right to say the words of the second murderer claiming that they “do to spite the world” (Shakespeare). The fate embittered these people “vile blows and buffets of the world”, and the time has made them criminals (Shakespeare). Macbeth's evil will provoke them to commit a crime. Therefore, they become killers under duress. Undoubtedly, it is a conviction for Macbeth who condemned people not only to ruin but also to moral degeneration. Macduff's said that after Macbeth's death his image would be put on a pole with the inscription: "…tyrant…" The phrase can be an epigraph to the tragedy (Shakespeare). Moreover, Scottish thanes refer to Macbeth as a "tyrant"(Shakespeare). The unity of sentiment, aspiration of all patriots, an enthusiastic sense of love to a country, and regret about its sad fate are expressed in the tragedy: “O nation miserable, With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’s” (Shakespeare).

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Scottish thanes are eager to become doctors of "sick country". Caithness says: “Pour we in our country's purge Each drop of us"(Shakespeare). Macduff leaves home, his wife and son in danger. There are plenty of nation voices that rise against the tyrant. Their intentions are designed and verified as they are not afraid to raise the nation against evil power.

The tragedy of Macbeth is devoted to the problem of power. The author claimed that excessive ambition is evil, like a bloody way to gain power. However, he argued that a responsible mission of royal power is to bring benefit to the people. Macbeth is a tragedy of power which makes people suffer. Therefore, such power does not make any sense.

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