These Macbeth quotes will warn you for the corruption that power and ambition for power can bring upon your life.
Our world is one that is full of those that want to achieve. Personal development and the quest to be better are constantly in the conversation. And that can be a good thing.
Ambition can lead you to achieve things that others only dream of. And power can be used to bring about important and necessary changes in the world.
However, Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a great example of what ambition for power can lead to. Macbeth’s quest for political power was his ultimate demise.
Read the Macbeth quotes below, and once you’re done be sure to also check out our collection of The Fault in Our Stars quotes for living a meaningful life.
Macbeth quotes on ambition
1. “Thou wouldst be great art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it.”- Macbeth
2. “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man That function is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is but what is not.” – Macbeth
3. “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
4. “My noble partner You greet with present grace and great prediction Of noble having and of royal hope, That he seems rapt withal. To me you speak not. If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak, then, to me, who neither beg nor fear Your favors nor your hate.” – Macbeth
5. “Two truths are told As happy prologues to the swelling act Of th’imperial theme.” – Macbeth
6. “I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself And falls on the other.” – Macbeth
7. “’Gainst nature still! Thriftless ambition, that will ravin up Thine own lives’ means! Then ’tis most like The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.” – Macbeth
If you’re enjoying these quotes, read our collection of ambition quotes to set your sights sky high.
8. But that myself should be the root and father Of many kings. If there come truth from them (As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine) Why, by the verities on thee made good, May they not be my oracles as well, And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.” – Macbeth
9. “To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.” – Macbeth
10. “For mine own good All causes shall give way. I am in blood Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” – Macbeth
11. “She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” – Macbeth
12. “Either thou, Macbeth, Or else my sword, with an unbattered edge, I sheathe again undeeded. There thou shouldst be; By this great clatter, one of greatest note Seems bruited. Let me find him, Fortune, And more I beg not.” – Macbeth
Also, check out these Othello quotes and lines from the famous William Shakespeare play.
Macbeth quotes about power
13. “If good, why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs Against the use of nature? Present fears Are less than horrible imaginings. My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man That function is smothered in surmise And nothing is but what is not.” – Macbeth
14. “All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!… Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!” – Macbeth
15. “My plenteous joys, Wanton in fullness, seek to hide themselves In drops of sorrow.—Sons, kinsmen, thanes, And you whose places are the nearest, know We will establish our estate upon Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter The Prince of Cumberland; which honor must Not unaccompanied invest him only, But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine On all deservers.—From hence to Inverness And bind us further to you.” – Macbeth
16. “And though I could With barefaced power sweep him from my sight And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, For certain friends that are both his and mine, Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall.” – Macbeth
17. “Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against The deep damnation of his taking-off.” – Macbeth
18. “Knock, knock! Who’s there, in th’ other devil’s name? Faith, here’s an equivocator that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.” – Macbeth
19. “The son of Duncan Lives in the English court and is received Of the most pious Edward with such grace That the malevolence of fortune nothing Takes from his high respect. Thither Macduff Is gone to pray the holy king upon his aid To wake Northumberland and warlike Siward That, by the help of these (with Him above To ratify the work), we may again Give to our tables meat, sleep to our nights, Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives, Do faithful homage and receive free honors. All which we pine for now: and this report Hath so exasperate the king that he Prepares for some attempt of war.” – Macbeth
20. “’Tis call’d the evil: A most miraculous work in this good king, Which often, since my here-remain in England I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven Himself best knows, but strangely visited people All swoll’n and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye, The mere despair of surgery, he cures, Hanging a golden stamp about their necks, Put on with holy prayers: and ’tis spoken, To the succeeding royalty he leaves The healing benediction. With this strange virtue, He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy, And sundry blessings hang about his throne That speak him full of grace.” – Macbeth
What did you learn from these Macbeth quotes?
Ambition and power are typically words that we associate with positive outcomes. It takes ambition to get ahead and achieve your dreams in life. Having power can help you to accomplish things that you might not be able to otherwise.
But if you don’t keep your drive for power in control, these Macbeth quotes show how wrong it can really go. Macbeth ultimately lost his family and then his own life as well. Finding the balance and making sure that you use your ambition and power in a good way is key. You don’t have to be afraid to seek something more, just make sure you aren’t doing it at the cost of others.
What’s your biggest takeaway from these Macbeth quotes and lines? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.
December 28, 2019 7:15 AM EST