It is said that ambition is the key to success, but in the case of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, ambition leads Macbeth to his downfall. Macbeth is offered with the ambition by the supernatural power of the three witches. Lady Macbeth, his wife, then pushes the ambition. After the murdering of King Duncan, Macbeth has gained enough ambition himself to cause his own destruction. At the end, his tragic flaw forces him to face his destiny. We can see a clear building of desire throughout the play.
Macbeth is first introduced to the limits of his power and his ambition by the three witches, who inform him that he will be the next king of Scotland. The witches are the ones who plant the actual idea of killing King Duncan into Macbeth’s mind, because they were taken very seriously in the Elizabethan Age. Shakespeare foreshadows Macbeth’s corruption through his meeting with these three witches. His thoughts are compared to Banquo’s, who has enough morality to keep himself not turn to evil. Banquo is also skeptical of the witches, and tries to warn his friend, who seems to accept whatever they say. Without this supernatural prophesy, the thought of killing the king would have never crossed Macbeth’s mind because he is so trustworthy to King Duncan, who honors him as the Thane of Cawdor after fighting in the battle against Norway, which meets what the witches foretold, so the thought to kill King Duncan is then reinforced.
Although now that Macbeth has the thought of becoming king inside of him, he is still not capable of killing King Duncan. His morality keeps him from performing any such mission. He is also fully aware of the destructive power of his ambition. In act I, scene vii, he even tells us, .
“I have no spur.
To prick the sides of my intent, but only.
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself.
And falls on the other”.
He knows this will be his downfall. His actions are only pursued by the persuasiveness of his wife, Lady Macbeth, who is even more ambitious than Macbeth himself in the beginning.