Ambition’s Sweet Poison: Macbeth’s Corruption Through Power (Macbeth by William Shakespeare Book Review)


 

“To be thus is nothing,/ But to be safely thus” (III.i.50-51)

In this day and age, power brings a sense of new hope to the world where great rulers arise, but power in itself has led to the downfall of many kings.  In fact, those who possess greed and ambition seek to obtain more wealth and control, which morally destroys their nature and poisons them with destructive pride.  In William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, the tyrant, Macbeth, is portrayed as a humble and honourable man before he discovers his fate and obtains power.  Indeed, Shakespeare elicits Macbeth’s cruelty as he commits treason to fulfill wrongful desires.  Clearly, Macbeth is corrupt because he craves power to the exclusion of all else.  

Macbeth attains power by committing hateful crimes that make him more corrupt as he gains complete control over Scotland.  Ultimately, this worsens his perspective towards others because Macbeth becomes dishonest with himself and the noblemen around him.  Since losing power concerns Macbeth, he claims that the chamberlains are traitors because they were responsible for Duncan’s death: “Th' expedition of my violent love/ Outrun the pauser, reason...For ruin’s wasteful entrance; there, the murderers” (II.iii.89-93).  Prior to gaining power, Macbeth was a noble and well-respected man for his admirable qualities.  Focusing on taking the crown, however, results in a change in the moral standards of Macbeth as he considers lying acceptable for gaining power.  Evidently, Macbeth’s personality changes where committing regicide creates a world of lies.  Similarly, Macbeth grows eager to win the throne through his wife’s persuasion of attaining power.  In truth, Macbeth becomes manipulated into committing wrongful deeds that develop his tyranny.  When Macbeth is convinced to murder Duncan, he expresses his devotion to the crime: “I am settled, and bend up/ Each corporal agent to this terrible feat” (I.vii.79-80).  As a result, this proves that Macbeth is willing to do anything for power, where his actions lead to further problems.  Consequently, Macbeth increasingly becomes corrupt and ruled by his intentions as his beliefs are unethical.  Indeed, the lack of morality enhances his greed only more, where manipulation alters his moral standards.  Likewise, Macbeth keeps the throne to himself, where his ambition blinds him because, with absolute power, he can fulfill all his wicked desires.  As oppressive as he can be, Macbeth understands the importance of trust by immediately acting on his thoughts.  Since Banquo is a liability to his throne and prophecy, Macbeth wants him dead as he hires murderers to sustain power: “Who wear our health but sickly in his life,/ Which in his death were perfect” (III.i.109-110).  Macbeth’s sudden rise in authority makes it easier for him to become more corrupt than ever as he leads many noblemen to their demise.  In addition, Macbeth displays cruelty at its finest, where he turns his emotions into harsh reality.  Without question, Macbeth’s power corrupts him since he is eager to slaughter a good friend, only to rule another day on the throne.  Therefore, it is clear that Macbeth loses all sense of morality and humanity as he gains power to the fullest degree.  Overall, the more power Macbeth has, the more corrupt he becomes, where Macbeth makes terrible decisions that affect his morals.

While benevolent kings exist, Macbeth reveals the devastating aspect of power, making him corrupt and committing terrible acts.  The murder of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth’s manipulation, and Banquo’s death all prove that corruption relies on power, where moral behaviour becomes immoral.  By understanding Lord Acton’s wisdom, interpretations are observed in the play that looks at Macbeth for his connection to power and its consequences.  Thus, power and corruption are interrelated functions that both serve as the foundation of Macbeth’s self-degradation. 

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