Ambition is the Root of All Evil

Essay by MojoHigh School, 10th gradeB-, January 1997

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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.