In Shakespeare's dramatic masterpiece, "Macbeth," many critics argue that magic, the witches, and Lady Macbeth leads to the downfall of Macbeth. However, one can clearly see that Macbeth's personality and character are at fault. These traits include ambition, paranoia and guilt. Ambition is a trait in which one has a strong desire to achieve. Although, this trait is a positive trait, Macbeth's excessive ambition decides his fate. This quality is further worsened by a guilty conscience. A guilty conscience is one that feels remorse for its wrongdoings. Although the aforementioned traits lead to Macbeth's downfall, paranoia tops up the recipe for tragic soup. Paranoia is a mental condition that is characterized by delusions of persecution. Shakespeare's Macbeth shows how the three traits can lead to a nasty end.
Macbeth's ambition was a vital factor, which ultimately leads to his horrid fate. Although ambition is an excellent character trait, excessive amounts of this trait can be negative. Elements of ambition were seen early in the play. As Macbeth hears that Malcolm is the new prince of Cumberland, he feels and says "The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step/ on which I must fall down, or else o'erleap" (1.4. 55-56). By this point, Macbeth knows that Malcolm will be the next king so he feels he must choose what he wants to do. To fall down on this step would mean to accept Malcolm as his king. To overleap this step would mean to get ignore Malcolm and become the king. Taken literally, if a person over-leaped a step would mean to ignoring it and/or simply stepping over the step to reach the top of the stairs. In Macbeth's case, this is achieving king. This point in the play is where Macbeth's ambition to become king leads him to change his morality. This famous quote is said on the side, intended to be heard only by the audience. Shakespeare intended to make this very dramatic as he puts the "or else o'erleap" at the ending as an afterthought or a rogue conclusion.