Ambition and Its Negative Effects: The Great Gatsby and Macbeth

Topics: Macbeth, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby Pages: 5 (3293 words) Published: November 2, 2014
Navdeep BadhanMs. DornfordENG3U1 – 08
May 30, 2014
Ambition and Its Negative Effects guilt
An individual’s ambition can be a crucial factor in aiding one to achieve their goals. However, one’s obsessive desire to achieve their goals can have a series of destructive effects potentially leading to their demise. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, is a novel that depicts the consequences that relate to one’s obstinate devotion to their goal. Characters in the novel strive to achieve their individual goals, however they become blinded by their ambition in the process. Jay Gatsby, the protagonist in The Great Gatsby is an ideal representation of an individual whose ambition lies in his love for a woman he had lost long ago, and how this ambition manipulates his actions which in return hold tragic consequences. Macbeth, a play written by William Shakespeare that takes place in the 11th century is an optimal depiction of the negative effects appertaining to one’s ambition. Through protagonist Macbeth, Shakespeare is able to displays how the choices one makes based on their motive determines their overall fate. Character Macbeth is an ambitious warrior under the rule of King Duncan. He is confronted by the Weird Sisters; three witches with the supernatural ability to look into the seeds of time, and is told three prophecies. One of these prophecies states that he will be the new king of Scotland. The possibility of being king intrigues Macbeth however it alters his thoughts and poisons his mind as he feels he must do whatever necessary to ensure the fulfillment of the prophecy. Both The Great Gatsby and Macbeth illustrate how ambition has the ability to affects one’s actions and thought. As Gatsby’s goal is to reclaim his lost love and Macbeth’s intention is to become the new king of Scotland, they both set up their tragic fates in the process through their actions. Both characters fall victim to their ambition as they become obsessed with their impending futures, destroy relationship, and face the consequences of their actions leading to their demise. In the pursuit to achieve their goals, Gatsby and Macbeth look to the future and allow it to shape their actions which in return aid destructive results. Jay Gatsby’s obsession with the future comes through his affection for his lost love Daisy Buchanan. Daisy is a wealthy woman and was Gatsby’s first true love. However, due to of Gatsby’s financial status at the time, Daisy was unable to marry him and instead married a wealthy polo player named Tom Buchanan. In the hopes of impressing Daisy, Gatsby invites her to one of his grand parties. Shortly after the party when all the guests including Daisy return home, Gatsby talks about the disastrous party and the unsuccessful attempt to impress Daisy with Nick Caraway; Gatsby’s neighbor and good friend. Gatsby believes that in order to rekindle Daisy’s passion and secure his future with her, he must call upon the past. Nick rebuts and states that it is impossible to recreate the past to which Gatsby declares, “‘Can’t repeat the past?’ He cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’” (Fitzgerald, 110). Gatsby’s ambition alters his thoughts and drives him to believe that in order to be with Daisy he must repeat his past with her. However, this is ironic because although Gatsby’s mindset remains in his past with Daisy, Daisy has learned to move on with her life and has forgotten her past with Gatsby. Unable to realize this, Gatsby becomes a victim of his ambition as he is blinded by his aspiration and continues to cringe on to his history with Daisy in the attempt to merge his past with his future. Another example that reveals Gatsby’s obsessive desire for a better future can be expressed when he creates a new persona for himself. As a young man, Gatsby was originally known as James Gatz. Poor at the time, he was one day influenced by Dan Cody; a wealthy alcoholic who gave young Gatsby a taste of the wealthy life. Inspired, Gatsby...
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