The Corruption of Ambition
The desire for some sort of vigorous achievement: the longing for power, wealth, honor, and fame push many people to do great deeds but can urge others to do murderous acts. Those who strive to do the unthinkable just to satisfy their ambition often create devastating disasters. William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar illustrates how ambition urges people to do atrocious deeds. The ambition Caesar carries lead the conspirators to question whether he is an absolute ruler; they fear that Caesar can potentially become a tyrant, so they plot to overthrow him. During the Lepercal festivities a soothsayer came to Caesar saying, “‘Beware the ides of March,’ [Caesar replies to all] ‘He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass’” (829). Caesar’s ambition to become the most powerful man he can be leads to him thinking nothing can happen to him because of his high status; making him ignorant. Ignoring this warning is an example of how his ambition causes ignorance; his ignorance leads to his death. Later on, when Caesar sees Cassius, he says to Mark Anthony, “‘Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek headed men and such as sleep a-nights. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous’” (835). Caesar prefers sluggardly, healthy men that do not think much over those who are lean, hungry men that think too much; in other words Caesar prefers dumb men over smart men Saying that lean people who think too much are dangerous men is an example of how Caesar’s ambition can be tyrannical. After Caesar was offered the crown, Brutus asks Casca “‘Was the crown offered him thrice?’ [Casca replies] ‘Ay, marry, was’t, and he put it by thrice, every time gentler than the other; and at every putting by mine honest neighbors shouted’” (836). This could be interpreted as being an act of humility. However, the truth is that Caesar’s malicious ambition continues to be demonstrated each and every time he meditates on...
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