A Theme of Ambition in Literature and Films

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Ambition is an extremely important driving force in one’s life. It can have a vital impact on yourself, and the people around you. Every human has the ability to control control the outcomes of one’s life, based on the decisions one makes. While ambition is frequently viewed as a positive trait, it can have negative consequences if one takes it too far. In the 21st century ambition is generally viewed as a good thing; Students are taught to be ambitious to be academically successful, while entrepreneurs need ambition to be prosperous. However, in Shakespeare’s plays ambition is mostly linked to greed, corruptness and abuse of power.

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The themes of his plays often exhibit how unchecked ambition can lead to corruption and abuse of power. In Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, Ambition finds its most powerful expression in its two main characters. Macbeth is a fearless Scottish thane who does not feel the need to commit evil actions, yet he has a deep desire for power and promotion. In the beginning of the play he meets three witches who tell him that he’s going to be king. He kills King Duncan against his own intuition and ends up flustering in anxiety and self-doubt. Toward the end of the play he falls into complete madness and his character completely deteriorates. Macbeth transformed from a well-respected man to a reckless murderer.

Lady Macbeth, however, Seeks her goals more confidently, yet she is not able to cope with the effects of their acts. Both of these characters are overwhelmed with an inevitable feeling of remorse. The play indicates that once one agrees to use violence to get more power, stopping can be difficult. Macbeth’s could never be sane again, a (Even though Macbeth is fiction, there are many real-life instances of how unchecked ambition has lead to corruption. Tonya Harding was the first American woman to land a triple-axle, and had a bright future ahead of her. She had a strong character and was extremely ambitious. However, on the day before the 1994 olympics in Lillehammer, she was accused of attacking her main rival Nancy Kerrigan. Tonya was forever banned from the U. S Skating Association, and could never compete again. Did Tonya pay someone to carry out the attack? No one knows, but we do know that with her strong sense of ambition it could be perfectly possible. The recent Netflix documentary “Dirty Money” focuses on scandals and corruption in the business world, uncovering acts of greed and ambition. This story tackles how the huge car manufacturer Volkswagen installed defeat devices to trick emissions tests. Volkswagen’s desire to be the #1 automaker had dirty consequences. This ended up affecting over 11 million vehicles all across the globe, and became a global controversy. The company’s CEO at the time, Martin Winterkorn subsequently blamed “the terrible mistakes of a few people”, whom he did not name. Winterkorn resigned on September 23rd 2015, as he took responsibility and stated that he was “not doing any wrong on my part”. In October, head of Volkswagen in The US blamed the scandal on “a couple of software engineers”, while claiming that higher management were not involved. The chief staff were so deep in trouble caused by cunning lies, and their remaining ambition made them keep the truth to themselves. The company finally decided to recompense their customers; it ended up costing them 18 billion dollars. The environment can also get affected by immoral ambition.

National Geographic Channel’s recent documentary: Water and Power: A California heist explores the current water crisis in California, and how it is influenced by money. The documentary examines how the local residents are affected by the water crisis, while large companies are making a huge profit off the state’s water. The 1994 Monterey Amendments shifted the control of California’s water from state control to the contractor’s control. California’s local residents have been deeply affected by this; some have even had to move due to the water deficiency in the area. These large companies don’t care about the drought nor the locals’ lives that have been ruined; all they care about is money, profit. The whole world’s ecosystem is dependent on California’s water system, but companies like The Wonderful Company keep undrafting the the undergrounds till they’re completely dried out. This is an intriguing example of how abuse of power and greed can also affect earth’s environment, not just other people. (5)Too much greed and ambition doesn’t just have negative consequences for yourself, but for the people around you and the environment.

Works cited

  1. Shakespeare, W. (1606). Macbeth. London, UK: Penguin Classics.
  2. Murray, D. (2005). Shakespeare and the moral curriculum. Journal of Moral Education, 34(4), 437-450.
  3. Fisher, W. R. (2016). Shakespeare's influence on modern culture. Journal of Shakespeare Studies, 4(2), 63-75.
  4. Harding, T. (2018). The Tonya tapes: An authorized biography. Vintage.
  5. National Geographic Channel. (2017). Water and power: A California heist [Documentary film].
  6. Eichenwald, K. (2017). Volkswagen's emissions cheating scandal: What happened and what's next. Newsweek, 8(4), 10-15.
  7. Haughney, C. (2015). Volkswagen's leaders, under fire, defend their actions. The New York Times.
  8. Netflix. (2018). Dirty money [Television series].
  9. Bandura, A. (1991). Social cognitive theory of self-regulation. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 248-287.
  10. Vohs, K. D., Baumeister, R. F., & Ciarocco, N. J. (2005). Self‐regulation and self‐presentation: Regulatory resource depletion impairs impression management and effortful self‐presentation depletes regulatory resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(4), 632-657.

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