Ambition is Root of All Evil
It is said that ambition is the key to success. In the case of Shakespeare's Macbeth, it is the
key to his downfall. He is presented with the ambition by the supernatural power of the witches.
Lady Macbeth, his wife, then pushes the ambition. After the murdering of Duncan, Macbeth has
gained enough ambition himself to cause his own destruction. We can see a clear building of
desire throughout the play.
Macbeth is first introduced to the limits of his power and his ambitions by the witches, who
greet him with three titles: Thane of Glamis, which Macbeth is fully aware of; Thane of Cawdor,
which is true at this point, but which Macbeth has not been told of; and King, which has not yet
become true. The witches are the ones who plant the actual idea of killing Duncan into Macbeth's
mind. It must first be understood that in the Elizabethan Age, the witches would have been taken
very seriously, and that witchcraft was a part of their culture. King James even wrote a book on
the subject. Shakespeare foreshadows Macbeth's corruption through his meeting with these three
witches. (I,iii). His thoughts are compared to Banquo's, whose morality, it seems, will not let
himself turn to evil. Banquo is skeptical of the witches, and tries to warn his friend, who
seems to accept what they say. Without this supernatural prophesy, the thought of killing the
king would have never crossed Macbeth's mind. The thought is then reinforced when Macbeth
learns that he is Thane of Cawdor, as the witches foretold (I,iii).
Now that Macbeth has the thought of becoming king inside of him, his is still not capable of
killing Duncan. His morality keeps him from performing any such task.