In life we are often told to be ambitious, and ambition is seen as an admirable quality, but this is not always so. Ambition can also be a bad thing, for to much of it can be harmful. How much are you willing to give up to obtain your goals? For this essay i have chosen the multi facited concept of ambition, which is an idea present in the texts, ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare, ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte, ‘GATTACA’ by Andrew Niccol, and ‘Ozyimandius’ by Percy Bysshe Shelly. In each of these texts ambition is used to present a different idea in order to achieve a different intention.

Morals are the things that we apply to our lives to provide structure, and boundaries about what we can and cannot do. Morals are the things that stop us from desending into chaos as a society. In William Shakespeare play ‘Macbeth’ the main character abandons his morals in order to achieve his goal of becoming king. This shows the concept of ambition as something that is bad, for Macbeth ended up losing everything, including his mind.  With this Shakespeare is conveying the idea the “it is not good to sacrifice your morals for ambition”. He does this by showing his audience all the bad things that happen to Macbeth because he killed his king, his best friend and many others. Macbeth’s anguish is showen through the quote “life is but a tale, told by a idiot, full of sound and furry, signifying nothing”. In this quote the full extent of Macbeth’s despear is apparent for be is saying life is meaningless. With this he is warning his audience not to abandon there morals, for if they do they are in danger of losing everything, just like Macbeth.

Another text that uses ambition to show an idea is ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. In this book the character Heathcliff is a gypsy boy of unknown decent, brought to Wuthering Heights and raised by the master of the house. Through out his childhood Heathcilff is made to feel in-superior because of his birth by his foster brother. As time went on Heathcliff develops a intense relationship with his foster sister Catherine, however, due to there difference in social class it would not be prudent for them to ever be together. This causes Heathcliffs fondness for Cathy to turn into obsession. Bronte uses Heathcliffs ambition to transend the restrictions of his birth to show her idea that obsession will only lead to pain, for in the end, Cathy dies, and so Heathcliff loses everything. This is showen in the quote “Two words would comprehend my future—death and hell: existence, after losing her, would be hell. “. In this bronte is expressing Heathcliff’s deep pain in losing Cathy, for he believes life without her is not worth living. This melancholy display of emotion ingrains the warning about obsession into the readers mind. This is very simalar to what happens in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. Macbeth has a obsession with becoming king even though he was not born to inherit this tital, and this causes him to lose everything as well, including the one he loves. In both theses texts the authors show the dire consequences of obsession through the characters ambition to be something they were not born to be. There intention with this is to discorage the reader from obsessive behaviour and to warn them of the perils of striving for things you are not suppose to have. 

GATTACA, a 1997 film by Andrew Niccol, is set in a dystopian future where your value to society is based on your genetics. The movie follows the story of Vincent, a genetically invalid young man on a mission to achieve his dreams despite his disadvantages. In this movie Andrew Niccol wants to show that ambition is the greatest human quality by letting his viewers see how Vincent gains successes with nothing but ambition and will power. In wuthering heights…….

The poem ‘Ozymandias’ is about a great statue that now lies in ruins in the desert. The ruins were once the monuments of the king Ozymandias’s power and influence but now they are only dust and sand. In this the author p b s shows how the kings ambition turned to nothing in the end. This conveys his idea that power is something that dies with you. This is showen in the quote:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
with this quote we see how Ozymandias think’s himself mighty, stark against the judpesiton of the desolate dessert. In GATTACA the character Jerome is powerful. He is born with genetics that would allow him to be and do whatever he wants and this gives him power in his society. Niccol uses Jerome’s lack of ambition to show how power is nothing in the end when Jerome ends his life by burning himself to death. In both texts the symbols of power, in Ozymandias’s case, the stature, and in Jerome’s case, his genetics, are reduced to nothing but dust. This use of symbolism causes the reader or viewer to draw connections in their mind between power and insignificant dust, showing us that power is nothing after we die, and that time and death, the great equaliser’s, make everything we think is important nothing in the end. Their intention with this is to help the reader/viewer relise that life is short and power is not important, in the hope that they will devote more appreciation to the present.

Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. Nice work Ava. Great ideas and thoughtful perspective. Very unique and highly imaginative spelling too!

  2. Hi Ava, I’m going to break my feedback down by paragraph:

    Paragraph 1: I like it – but I’d encourage you to remove the part where it appears you’re trying to justify your interpretation – if you see it there, it’s there (we don’t care whether Niccol put it there). Does this make sense?

  3. Paragraph 2: (Eugenics and the Aryan Master Race). The ideas here are good, (and we’re overlooking the mechanical errors at this stage) but the language you’re using is a little unsophisticated. You’re writing in almost a spoken register: “there was an idea circulating”. It has the ring of storytelling or ‘narrative’ about it. Since you’re writing analysis and not narrative, you’re better using more precise terms. “The idea of eugenics had gained traction in the scientific community and this was influencing medicine and politics”. This whole paragraph needs to be reviewed for this (I strongly suggest you have your writer/reader read this to you.

  4. Paragraph 3: (Modernism). The advice from above applies somewhat. Also – at this point you make no reference to how modernism is represented in the film. This is not consistent with other paragraphs where you both establish the historical reference, and how it is represented in the film. You need to be consistent. One way or the other.

  5. Paragraph 4: (Black civil rights) See previous comments.

  6. Further Paragraphs: Your ideas are deep and sophisticated – however your expression of these ideas needs work:

    1. You must adhere to a clear structure. As your essay progresses, it becomes less and less possible to determine the way the ideas are organised – and it starts to feel directionless, even though the points you are making are good. REMEDY: First step is to give each of your paragraphs a heading (like I have above) so that you can identify how you want to organise your ideas for best effect.
    2. Eliminate repetition. Because your structure has collapsed, you’re starting to repeat your ideas. You must now aim to cull a lot from what you’ve written so your key conclusions reveal themselves as a conclusion to the reasoning you’ve offered prior to them:

    History -> Seen in “this visual feature” -> teaches us .

    1. Use more precise language and reserve your figurative expression for where it further</strong illuminates your idea. Speak to me if you don’t know what I mean by ‘figurative expression’.
  7. Aim to keep your word count below 1200. If it goes over this consider it a concern.

  8. Hope this helps. Remember this is also an experiment in using your reader/writer and I encourage you to see what it’s like if you ask them to read the comments on your work to you – and then read (ALL) of your work to you. It may be a revelation.




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