1. An Ambitious Aspirant - Macbeth
"The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must 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 done, to see."
Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 4
This was what Macbeth uttered when he was leaving King Duncan's palace, after the official designation of Malcolm as the rightful heir. I choose this quote, for it demonstrates one of the early signs of greed and extreme ambition of Macbeth. Macbeth now thought of Malcolm as an obstruction on his path to the throne. Now that King Duncan had named Malcolm heir to his throne, Macbeth had to somehow make himself king. There must be a way that he could achieve that, otherwise he would have to give up. And when Macbeth was pondering about the possibilities in his mind, he wished that the stars hid their lights, lest his deep and ambitious desires be revealed, and his timid eyes be disturbed, upon witnessing his imminent deed. Macbeth just sparked a thought would later helped him to ascend to the throne. This is still the beginning of his journey.
2. An Avaricious Woman - Lady Macbeth
"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."
Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5
In this quote, Lady Macbeth was showing her grand ambitions. She wanted that Macbeth become the ruler of state - King. However, in her words, she explicitly said that she feared the reluctant and timid nature of Macbeth. In specific, she despised the "human kindness" of Macbeth. And in my humble interpretation of the second-half of her quote, Lady Macbeth said that in order to attain such great power, Macbeth would need greed (the extreme form of ambition), but not the fear and reluctance that would arise from ambitious desire. I think she was trying to convince her husband that he should be ready to do anything to rise to power, even in such endeavour, atrocious and dishonoured acts are involved. Lady Macbeth is one of the very ambitious and interesting characters in the Scottish play. She also plays the central role in the theme of greed, together with Macbeth. From my perspective, Lady Macbeth was also the person who turned Macbeth, from a hero to a tyrant, and from an honourable conqueror to a despicable traitor. And so I choose this quote because it quite captures the greedy and ambitious nature of Lady Macbeth. All she wanted was full power for her husband. She blindly maintained neglecting attitudes toward kindness and the reluctance to expunge all obstruction on the path to power.
3. A Greedy Tyrant - Macbeth
"He chid the sisters
When first they put the name of king upon me,
And bade them speak to him: then prophet-like
They hail'd him father to a line of kings:
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
And put a barren sceptre in my gripe,
Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murder'd;
Put rancours in the vessel of my peace
Only for them; and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man,
To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings!"
Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 1
Macbeth perceived Banquo and Banquo's sons to be an imminent source of peril, like a menacing guillotine, hanging over Macbeth's head and poised to take his life. Banquo was the man whose existence and offspring threatened the shaky throne of Macbeth. Macbeth did not find loose ends delectable, and unfortunately Banquo was one of them. Something significant about Banquo is that his children were predicted by the witches to become kings, and if they became kings then something would have to happen to Macbeth - resignation or regicide. And it was more likely the latter. From the quote, after the witches hailed Macbeth as king, they then hailed Banquo as father to a line of kings. Macbeth also uttered that the crown and sceptre that he had was fruitless and full of uncertainty. He said that if the prophecies of the witches were correct, then Macbeth had indirectly helped the ascension of Banquo's children. In particular, the fact that Macbeth killed King Duncan, and all his efforts to bring himself to power were nothing but merely to make way for the rise of Banquo's sons. He was the vanguard for the emergence of Banquo's children, as the quote indicates. Macbeth anxiously craved Banquo and his sons lying ten feet underground, lest Macbeth be vanquished by the posterity of Banquo. And here, the picture above depicts the private conversation between Macbeth and the assassins that he hired (with Macbeth's quote above all in the same scene). His terrible greed urged to do everything that would stabilize his throne - assassinating Banquo and his sons. I choose this quote because it shows what Macbeth thought about his enemy and former companion. How Macbeth saw Banquo is strong evidence of the theme of greed in Macbeth.