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“If it were done when ’tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly…….I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other-” (Act 1, Scene 7 Page 39-40 Line 1-28).Mac Beth Literary Essay ENG3U Ambition is usually what drives most towards success, however, in Shakespeare’s Mac Beth, it is was leads Mac Beth towards his downfall.
In the scene which occurs immediately after Duncan's death, Lady Macbeth orders her husband to get some water "and wash this filthy witness from your hand" (II.i.43-44). / Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand? But she in turn insists that the tell-tale signs of his crime cannot be seen by others, that "a little water clears us of this deed" (II.i.64).In the course of the play, Macbeth repeatedly misinterprets the guilt that he suffers as being simply a matter of fear.His characteristic way of dealing with his guilt is to face it directly by committing still more misdeeds, and this, of course, only generates further madness.He rejects her suggestion, crying out, "What hands are here. But midway through the play, Lady Macbeth loses both her influence over her husband and the ability to repress her own conscience.Once her husband has departed to combat against Macduff's forces and Lady Macbeth is left alone, she assumes the very manifestations of guilt that have been associated with Macbeth, insomnia and hallucinations, in even more extreme form.The irony here is that double-dealing and falsity are at hand, and Lady Macbeth's ability to conceal her intentions while at the same time making hidden reference to them has a startling effect upon us.Beyond the evil that human ambition can manufacture, Macbeth has a super-natural dimension to it; indeed, the play opens with the three witches stirring the plot forward.In Macbeth, ambition conspires with unholy forces to commit evil deeds which, in their turn, generate fear, guilt and still more horrible crimes.Above all, Macbeth is a character study in which not one, but two protagonists (the title character and Lady Macbeth) respond individually and jointly to the psychological burden of their sins.Even before his encounter with the three witches, Macbeth finds himself in an unnatural dramatic world on the "foul and fair" day of the battle (39). After his first conclave with the witches, Macbeth is unable to determine whether the prophecy of the witches bodes "ill" or "good." He then begins to doubt reality itself as he states that "nothing is / But what it is not" (141-142).The prophecy, of course, is true in the first sense but not what Macbeth takes it to be in the second.