The tragedy of Macbeth portrays the sacrifices of ambition and the devastating results that spring from evil's hands ("Personal Works and Writings"). "With deepest seriousness that forms Macbeth's character is his "tragedy" is that as soon as he surrenders conscience to ambition he becomes, precisely, a two-dimensional, melodramatic personality, and a hollow man" (McLeish 176). Lady Macbeth is the major catalyst to Macbeth's ambition.
In the tragedies of Shakespeare, man's challenge to his resilience and despair in the face of adversity has been intimated linked to each of Shakespeare's four tragic protagonists or central character exhibiting a flaw (Danby 157). In the play of Macbeth, we see the changes within Macbeth, as he revolutionizes from a hero, courageous and bold in combat, to a slayer, engulfed with guilt, until he finally becomes a cold-blooded and tyrannical ruler, emptied of human emotions. These changes, though they are drastic, are predictable, predestined and fated. The real tragedy of Macbeth lies in the evil's triumph over the good. Established upon his course of evil with no return or amends, Macbeth conducts one act of violence and hostility after another in an effort to protect himself from inevitable disaster ("Personal Works and Writings"). When Macbeth's ambition has "set the ball rolling", events happen quickly in the play as it gathers momentum ("Play Synopsis").
Norman Rubkin says "Macbeth does what he does, not as his wife would do it, willingly in a clear cause, but as if he must do what he does not want to do. It is Lady Macbeth, not he, who claims that he wants to have what he esteems the ornament of life" (Rubkin 123). As a result of Macbeth's fathers death he became Thane of Glamis and Duncan, King of Scotland, proclaimed Malcolm, his son, as Prince of Cumberland and therefore his successor. He saw that if he were to gain the object of his ambition there was no substitute but murder, even though at first the idea to him was horrible and an unpleasant thought (Baker 94).