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Ambition and Greed in Macbeth

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sabrina chianelli

on 2 June 2014

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Transcript of Ambition and Greed in Macbeth

Lady Macbeth
Seminar questions
1. What is the difference between greed and ambition and why are they not good qualities for a king to have?
2. Which do you think is worse or the same to be greedy or ambition and why?
3. Was Macbeth greedy to begin with or did lady Macbeth make him this way for her own personal gain?
4. Does greed and ambition go hand in hand if Macbeth started out with only one of these qualities would the other eventually develop?
5. Do you think that ambition can be good and if so where is the line drawn before it goes to far?

Greed and Ambition - Important for the Plot
Ambition and Greed
in Macbeth

Greed –a strong self-centered want for something such as wealth or power. Greed leaves you are always wanting more and you will never be satisfied. All that matters is your selfish desires.
Ambition – using hard work and determination to get what you strongly desire. It is easy to be overcome with ambition and if taken too far ambition will let no one get in your way not matter what you must do.
Throughout William Shakespeare’s Macbeth ambition and greed are essential for setting the play in motion and driving the plot forward. Macbeth is probably the most guilty of these traits and because of this things start to fall apart. Thanks to Ambition and greed multiple characters are killed, people are overcome by madness and violence breaks out
Lady Macbeth is the one who causes Macbeth to change and become greedy and ambitious. All she cared about was getting power for herself and her husband.. Lady Macbeth is full of greed and ambition as soon as she gets news for her husband of his future king ship.
"Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be what thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it." (Act 1, Scene 5).
She begins to put her efforts into convincing her husband to kill the king which is the start the first of many murders to come. She will stop at nothing to make sure that her husband will kill King Duncan, this includes murder putting down her husband and trying as hard as she can to make herself heartless and “more like a man” at the start of the play.
- Ambition and greed are two cursed traits that from the day Macbeth receives a prophecy till the day of his death everything he does, thinks, or talks about is based around greed and ambition for power.
“ For mine own good All causes shall give way. I am in blood Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o'er.” (Act 3 Scene 5)
He is given no reason to kill him other than his desire for power which seems to be enough for him.
“I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other”. (Act 1 Scene 7)
Here Macbeth realizes his ambition and is admitting it to him. Even though there is no good reason for Macbeth to kill Duncan all Macbeth cares about now is power. Once Macbeth is kings he becomes mad and starts to worry about what will become of the second prophecy given to Banquo. He comes to the conclusion that he must kill his friend and his son.

The murder of Macduff’s family and attempt to kill Macduff is another event driven by greed and ambitions to keep his place as king. Macbeth wants to eliminate all obstacles in his way even if he has to resort to extremes and take innocent lives.

Once Macbeth kills Duncan right away Ross realizes it is because of someone’s ambition.
“Gainst nature still! Thriftless ambition that wilt ravin up Thine own life's means! Then 'tis most like the sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.” (Act 2 scene 4)
Characters such as Macduff and Malcolm begin to see Macbeth for his greedy and ambitious ways. They are strongly opposed to the fact that he is king and want to put an end to it.
"I grant him bloody, Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin that has a name."(Act 4 Scene 3)
Here Malcom talks about all the greed has and sins that Macbeth has committed. Malcom also talks about his own greed and how nothing good can come from it.
“With this there growsIn my most ill-composed affection such A stanch less avarice that, were I king, I should cut off the nobles for their lands, Desire his jewels and this other’s house. And my more-having would be as a sauce To make me hunger more, that I should forge Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal, Destroying them for wealth.” (Act 4 Scene 3 )
Here Malcolm is talking about how if he were king that he would be very greedy and this is not a good trait for a king to have. Banquo then responds with the point that greed has been the downfall of many kings.

Other Characters on Greed and Ambition
The play suggests that no good can ever come from greed, ambition or both combined. It also suggests that reaching for something that is out of reach according to the universe will never be true no matter how much ambition you have because it is not meant to be. Trying to change the future like Macbeth did will end poorly.
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