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Published: 11-10-2019

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The Use of Sickness as a Metaphor pf Ambition in Macbeth, a Play by William Shakespeare

In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth is given a prophecy by three witches saying that he will turn out to be king. With high ambitions, Macbeth murders his king and becomes king himself. As king, Macbeth rules with tyranny and Scotland falls to a “sickness”. Throughout the play, Shakespeare utilizes sickness as a metaphor for Macbeth’s ambition.

Evidence of Macbeth’s sickness shows when the 3 witches prophesize that Macbeth will be thane of Cawdor and king. Banquo laughs at the prophecy when the witches inform him that his sons will be kings. Macbeth reacts differently he was afraid due to the fact he was already pondering about the thought of getting king. Macbeth’s sickness of ambition also shows when Malcolm is named the successor to the throne. Macbeth says “The prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I have to fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies. stars, hide your fires let not light see my black and deep desires. The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is accomplished, to see” (1.4. 50-55). He shows his violent tendencies by saying that he wants to be king even even though Malcolm is in his way. He says that in order to be king, he has to do some thing terrible which he will do.

Macbeth’s ambition leads him into murdering his king Duncan in order to be king himself. Macbeth’s illness is released when he murders Duncan and his guilt and worry causes him to turn into much more ambitious. In order to safe his position as king, he is prepared to murder anybody who will threaten his position. His sickness of ambition spreads onto the country of Scotland where Macbeth guidelines with tyranny and the country “weeps, bleeds, and each new day a gash is added to her wounds” (4.3. 41-42).

Shakespeare compares Macbeth and Scotland’s sickness to King Edward and England’s overall health. Macbeth’s overly ambitious nature made him a tyrant and as a result, Scotland falls to a disease. Contrasted to Macbeth, King Edward of England has the virtues of a excellent king. He is blessed with the power of healing and he utilizes it to heal the sick individuals of his country. Macbeth seems to recognize that he is the lead to of Scotland’s illness when he says “I have lived lengthy enough. My way of life is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf” (5.3. 24-25). By saying that he is tired of living, he is saying that he is tired of the sickness he caused in Scotland.

Shakespeare utilizes sickness as a metaphor for Macbeth’s ambition. Evidence of Macbeth’s ambition seems early in the play when Macbeth reacts to the witches prophecy with worry, revealing that he was currently thinking about the notion of becoming king. His sickness was released a spreads to Scotland when he murders Duncan, becomes king, and rules with tyranny as a result of his guilt and worry. Towards the end of the play, he recognizes that he himself is the illness that plagues Scotland and says he is tired of living with the sickness he had imposed on Scotland.
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