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Ambition in Macbeth

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Ambition is defined as an eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or power. In the words of Niccolo Machiavelli, “Ambition is so powerful a passion in the human breast, that however high we reach we are never satisfied.” This quote defines how ambition is never fulfilled, and it will cause people to keep striving for more. Ambition in shown in “Macbeth” when Macbeth strives to become King, after the he hears his prophecy from the weird sisters, and this ends in Macbeth’s defeat. The rebels show ambition in “A Bend in the River” by striving to overthrow the government. As the desire to overthrow the government prevail over the rebels, they are overcome with extreme ambition and they are conquered. Extreme ambition leads to the corruption and eventual downfall of the characters in both “Macbeth” and “A Bend in the River”.

Ambition, no matter how small, builds up, and becomes a need. When this ambition is built up and encouraged, it can influence a person’s decision. Macbeth went to three witches, who prophesized that he would become King. This got Macbeth thinking of how he can become King. At this time, he was still unsure of whether he would take any action toward gaining the crown. When he comes back to his house, Lady Macbeth convinces him to murder King Duncan, through emotionally degrading him, shown in the quote: “Art thou afeard/ To be the same in thine own act and valour/ As thou art in desire?” (Act I, Scene IV). This quote shows how Lady Macbeth influenced Macbeth’s decision, because after hearing about the prophecy, she also had the ambition for her husband to become King. In the novel “A Bend in the River”, a similar situation occurs. A political party formed the government of Zaire, and was in power at the time. There was a war between European nations within Zaire, which the country battered, and the government unstable. The rebel group was still under control at this time, so they posed no major threat. They then got a new leader, who saw the crippled government as an opportunity to overthrow them. “ ‘Sir Salim, did you hear the news? The rebels new leader has motivated them to take action against the government’, Ferdinand told me after a long silence. I had heard of this before, and I also knew that they were recruiting in our town, as I overheard two of them in my shop. I decided to keep this to my self, as Ferdinand might not react to well to the news.” This shows how a strong leader motivated all of the rebels, and influenced them to break peace and plan to take action against the government. This influence would go on to motivate for action being taken.

When ambition is a need, it eventually turns into an action to achieve what is desired. When this goal is reached, the ambition may corrupt the individual, and make them strive to think higher and only of themselves. In “Macbeth”, Lady Macbeth succeeds in convincing Macbeth to kill Duncan and take his throne. Her and Macbeth’s ambition leads Macbeth to commit murder, and eliminate King Duncan. Once he did that, Macbeth gained the throne for himself. Upon gaining the throne, Macbeth’s ambition corrupts him, and he only feels for himself. He does anything to try and stay in power, and neglects his people, proving to be a tyrannical leader. He even goes to the extent to kill his best friend Banquo to clench a hold on his regime, as shown in the quote: “To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus/ Our fears in Banquo stick deep/ And in his royalty of nature reigns that/ Which would be feared.” (Act III, Scene I). This shows how ambition corrupted Macbeth so much that he plotting to kill his best friend Banquo just because he thinks he is a threat. The corruption of those in power is also shown in “A Bend in the River”. Once the rebels finally go through and topple the government, they start an era of tyrannical rule. They do not help the citizens of the country, but rather take all goods for themselves and their forces. Their ambition does not stop at only having power, but they go as far as to nationalize shops and stores, including the shop of Salim, the main character if the story. This is shown in the following quote: “It was a long drive back to town, but when I reached back, I wished I had taken longer. I came home to find four rebels running my shop. To my horror, my shop had been nationalized.” This shows the tyrannical rule of the rebels,

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