Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the British Council's online course, Exploring English: Shakespeare. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 seconds Ambition. Don’t we all have it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 22 seconds I sort of wish I was a bit more like Lady Macbeth and the Macbeths actually.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 seconds Well the play is about ambition and about what happens when ambition goes, not too far, but sort of unchecked in yourself. We’re all ambitious. We all want to get ahead and we all want that, you know, the crown. But we know that we’re not going to do certain things, you know, because we feel we’re good people and you can’t do that, it’s wrong or whatever. But in this play they see an opportunity. And it is interesting that actually Macbeth, for me, at the beginning of the play is a good guy to me. He’s like, yeah I really want that, but of course I’m not going to kill him to get it.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds And then his wife, she’s like, he’s not going to do it is he? And then what happens in the end, she realises, you know, “nought’s had, all’s spent, where our desire is got without content”. And you think, yes, you realise that now. It’s like all of us in a way, you know, when you absolutely really want that house and your stomach’s churning, or whatever it is that you desire so badly, a car or any material thing. In the end you get it, and then it loses its lustre.

The ambition of Lady Macbeth

In this video, actor Shaheen Khan talks about the ambition of Lady Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth desperately wants power, so she makes her husband, Macbeth, want the same thing. And ultimately, she actually gets her husband to commit murder to achieve her goal.

Listen to Shaheen’s view about ambition. She says:

Weʼre all ambitious. We all want to get ahead. … but we know that weʼre not going to do certain things. Because we feel weʼre good people and you canʼt do that.

But then you see what happens to Lady Macbeth when she really wants something …

And you think, ʻOh my God, yes’, you realise that now. Itʼs like all of us in a way.

Do you agree with Shaheen? Do you think most people would act like Lady Macbeth for something they wanted so much?

Share your thoughts with other learners.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council