Discuss Macbeth As Tragedy Of Ambition

Macbeth is unanimously held as the most vehement, the most concentrated, and the most tremendous of the tragedies of Shakespeare, It is the most poignant, the most appealing and the most awe-inspiring tragedy in which Shakespeare takes the readers and spectators straight into black tragedy through one door opening into utter darkness. The tragedy is marked with deep pathos, moving pity, momentous thrills, appalling tragic incidents and awful supernatural scenes. It is not merely a story of external conflicts physical tortures murders and bloodshed-it is more a tragedy of the soul Supernatural awe and thrilling horror combined with heart-renting pity and spiritual havoc constitute the tragic spirit in Macbeth.

As a rule the Shakespearean tragedy emerges from the character of the hem The hem is always a man of nobility ending in destruction caused by a failing fatal flaw in his own character. The calamities of the tragedy do not simply happen nor are they sent from above-they are direct and inevitable consequence of his deeds and these deeds issue out of character. Macbeth is likewise a tragedy suing from-the character of the hero himself. The tragic trait or fault in the character on Macbeth is his inordinate ambition. This ambition, though not fatal in itself, becomes the cause of his doom under the circumstances in which he is placed. He is placed just under those circumstance which he cannot resist. Tempted by the witches to seize the crown of Scotland, he is induced by his wife to murder Duncan. Fate creates favourable circumstances to make the murder possible. The nomination of Malcolm as Duncan’s successor further incites Macbeth and the unexpected visit of Duncan to his castle gives him the suitable opportunity. Thus in spite of his spiritual horror at the very thought of murder, Macbeth is driven to it by the force of circumstances. Afterwards it was easy to proceed from one murder to a series of murders in the name of his own security and stability. Thus, the tragedy flows irresistibly from the character of the hero, giving an impression of inevitability about it. But Macbeth is not merely a tragedy of murder and bloodshed-it is more tragedy of the soul. Had it been merely a story of physical tortures and death, it would have evoked abhorrence and disgust in our heart and not pity and awe. We do not look upon Macbeth as a mere murderer and tyrant- he is something more. He is a valiant hero; we admire him and even feel sympathy for him at the spectacle of his inward torment. Shakespeare has laid bare the heart of Macbeth stung with a thousand scorpions and we know not whether to hate Macbeth or pity him. The very thought of murder frightens him and unfixes his hair and makes his seated heart knock at his ribs against the use of nature. He is so horrified that he says, “we will proceed no further in the business.” The fatal vision of the blood- stained air-drawn dagger, the mutterings of the sleeping grooms during the murder, the filthy sight of his bloody hands create havoc in the heart of Macbeth. He cannot bear the sight of his hands.

Also Read : 


Macbeth is, therefore, a tragedy of the soul. Death comes to Macbeth as a relief. “This tremendous spectacle of the ruin of a man’s soul makes us stand against with awe, and we feel pity for Macbeth though we condemn his action.

The supernatural atmosphere of fear and awe further raises the tragedy to the higher plain of grandeur and sublimity. The Weird Sisters elevate the tragedy to the plain of superhuman grandeur and awe. The witches, ghosts apparitions and hallucinations render this tragedy to be one of the most tremendous stories of the human soul. The supernatural beings are “a reminder of the existence and immanence of more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our everyday philosophy, a warning that at all times, but worst in its lapses, humanity has to reckon with not fresh and blood alone but principalities and powers of the unseen world.” Bradley says. “These agencies- darkness, the lights and colours that illuminate it. The violent and gigantic images-conspire with the appearances of the Witches and the ghost to awaken horror and in some degree also a supernatural dread.”

Lady Macbeth is no less a tragic figure. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are fired by one and the same passion of ambition and to a considerable extent they are alike. It is she who induces her wavering husband to go ahead in the business of murder. In fact she is the real murderer and she pays a more terrible penalty than her husband. She says at one time “the sleeping and the dead are but as pictures” and that, “A little water clears us of this deed”. But she suffer the most tremendous spiritual agonies in the sleepwalking scene. She recalled the scenes of murder and heaves out. “Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? She hates her hands: “Here the spell of the blood still, all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand”.

Finally when the hero dies and the curtain falls, two kinds of feelings are left in our heart-the feeling of awe and of sympathy. We feel awe at the fall of Macbeth and sympathy for the way in which he suffers and meets his death At the death of Macbeth “a medley of emotions is left in our heart, pain at his tragedy, admiration for the noble qualities in him and the promise of better, things to come.”



Leave a Comment