In the play of Macbeth, Amtion is a strong desire Macbeth has to become king by committing the unthinkable, of which in this case, is murder. Macbeth has subconsciously changed his character throughout the play to an entirely different Macbeth. It is his ambition that dominates over his nature and eventually wins over his conscience that ultimately changes himself to someone who is barely recognisable as the original Macbeth, which turns out to be his fatal weakness.
Macbeth is meant to be portrayed as the irrevocably evil villain of the story, but he cannot conquer guilt and self-doubt, and that is wher his conscience emerges from. In this instance, before Macbeth commits the murder of Duncan, he questions himself: “Is this a dagger which I seebefore me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.”, and is already plagued by so much anxiety that makes him visualise the crime before it has been done, with his visualisation being “on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood.” His conscience is what creates the fear of his nature which is the only weakness towards his character that prevents him from being a complete ruthless and cold-blooded murderer.
Macbeth’s ambition is like a domino that will never cease its momentum. During the first encounter with the three witches, Macbeth is told that he will become the thane of Cawdor and ultimately the king of Scotland, and Banquo will be ‘lesser than Macbeth, and greater,” and “not so happy, yet much happier”; and that he will never be king but that his children will sit upon the throne one day. After Macbeth ponders upon whether or not he should commit an evil deed to claim the throne, he eventually decides to murder king Duncan, and that is when the string towards the throne sparks to life. Along the way, after Duncan’s assassination, those who could potentially claim the throne or become Macbeth’s obstruction are eliminated. In this instance, Macbeth plans to kill Banquo and his children by hiring assassins as he thinks Banquo already suspects him of his murder of king Duncan and to prove the witches’ prophecy wrong. Banquo is then murdered whilst his son flees. Macduff’s wife and children are also killed to enact revenge against Macduff, who has fled to England to join Duncan’s son Malcolm and assist in raising an army to attack Scotland and place Malcolm on the throne.
In order to claim the throne, Macbeth’s ambition is like a growing fire that literally burns lives; of those who pose as threats to his throne and those who might oppose him once he claims the throne.
Ambition is what ultimately claims Macbeth’s life. As Macbeth becomes reliant on the witches in telling him of his future, Macbeth continuously counters potential threats to his throne by killing people, believing that the witches will help him to claim the throne without having to worry.
On their second encounter, the witches summon visions and spirits which fill him with a false sense of security and “draw him on to his confusion”, with the message being :“none of woman born shall harm Macbeth”. Believing he is invincible, Macbeth does not worry despite Macduff’s troops are slowly advancing towards his castle disguised as the ‘Birnam Wood’. Macbeth eventually faces Macduff in a one-on-one battle. Thinking that he would easily win as none of woman born will harm him, Macbeth is confident in being able to defeat Macduff; however, as the fight continues, Macbeth learns that Macduff is not of woman born, but rather “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripped”, and Macbeth suddenly fears for his life, and in addition, his conscience also plays a part in Macbeth’s loss of confidence and is what causes his death in the end when he is decapitated by Macduff.
In conclusions Macbeth is basically a man of conscience but with a fatal weakness: ambition. His ambition is indeed what helps him to claim the throne; however, along the way, king Duncan, Banquo, Macduff’s wife and children are killed as a result of his ambition, which inevitably leads to a war between Malcom’s English army and Macbeth’s army. Ambition is what ultimately kills Macbeth in the final battle with Macduff, who would have still been alive and living a satisfying life as the thane of Glamis and Cawdor.