Macbeth Essay

1406 words - 6 pages

There is peril to power and danger in unbridled ambition; both of which can lead to catastrophic conflict both internally and externally. This notion is undoubtedly evident in William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth. Written in 1600 for the pleasure of King James I, Macbeth is a play that explores the catastrophic conflict that stems from 'vaulting ambition'. Throughout the play, the title character morphs from a brave, valiant and noble Thane to a cold blooded, ambitious killer who will stop at nothing to ensure his position of King of Scotland. As Macbeth's lust for ambition increases, conflict abounds as he loses his grasp on reality and the world around him is thrown into chaos. Similarly, Kevin Macdonald's 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, also explores the cataclysmic conflict that can arise when evil is chosen as a way to fulfil the ambition for power. The film centres on a fictionalised account of dictator Idi Amin and is presented through the eyes of young Scottish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan, who is dazzled by the power and glory that come with being Amin's most trusted advisor. As Amin's hubris leads him to a state of frantic, boastful madness, the world around him is plunged into chaos and Garrigan himself must battle his own internal conflicts. Despite clear disparity of form and temporal difference, both texts explore the catastrophic internal and external conflict that may stem from wild, rampant ambition.

Unbridled ambition can undoubtedly lead to internal conflict through moral decline and a descent into madness. This is evident throughout Macbeth as the title character transforms from a brave, highly regarded warrior to a frantic, delusional cold-blooded killer. In the opening scenes of the play, the audience is positioned to view Macbeth as a great hero. He is described by others as being very courageous; "For brave Macbeth well he deserves that name". By describing Macbeth as 'brave', Shakespeare is emphasizing Macbeth's noble qualities. It positions him as a 'great man' of high esteem which ultimately makes his fall from grace and descent into evil all the more dramatic. When we finally meet Macbeth, he seems to be as he has been described; a brave solider and nobleman who is not naturally inclined to commit evil deeds, yet by the final act of the play, Macbeth is quite literally in too deep. While Macbeth does not question his own sanity, he does at this point acknowledge that he has become so corrupted by power and ambition and is clearly in moral conflict with the brave, pragmatic warrior we met at the beginning of the play. Macbeth; "I am in blood, stepp'd in so far". This quote demonstrates Macbeth's descent into desperation as he admits that he is so far into his murderous mess that there is quite simply no way out; he cannot take back any of the deaths he has caused. The metaphoric blood in this quote represents the many murders that Macbeth has committed to maintain his hold on the Scottish throne. He t...

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