AMBITION IN SCOTT FITZGERALD'S THE GREAT GATSBY AND WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S MACBETH

Topics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Macbeth Pages: 5 (1666 words) Published: October 15, 2008
Saad Amjad

AMBITION IN SCOTT FITZGERALD'S THE GREAT GATSBY

AND WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S MACBETH

In the walk of life, ambition is the path to success; and persistence, the substance of ignition required to propel it. When harnessed with unmitigated precision, ambition is a force which can alone endow one with the jewels of life. However, if overmastered by ambition, it is not but a sign of doom and destruction, resulting ultimately in one's premature demise. In Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and William Shakespeare's Macbeth, many similarities and differences may be exhibited in the characters of the respective protagonists - Gatsby and Macbeth - through the recurring theme of ambition. Three pivotal facets found in both works of literature are - firstly - of the immense influence of a woman upon the decisions of each protagonist, the underlying insecurity and vulnerability of character of the two men, and the presence of towering ambition in both characters. The collusion of these three continuing themes impels the protagonists of the respective works to perilous heights, resulting eventually, in their inevitable demise.

One point of commonness found in both works is the manner in which the lives of Gatsby and Macbeth are constantly toyed with - in one way or another - by a woman. In The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan - Gatsby's eternal love - becomes the sole motivation for Gatsby to live. Upon being rejected by her during his youth, he scrupulously reinvents himself as a cultured millionaire of high society in an attempt to court Daisy's approval. However, despite attaining an immense fortune, he fails to mould with the old aristocratic nobilities of America, thereby being rejected by Daisy yet again. His judgment, hindered by his love for Daisy, fails to indicate to him that Daisy is in fact a low and vulgar young woman who values wealth, social privilege, and status far ahead of the love he wishes to share with her. Her love for Gatsby pales in comparison to her love for the elite and wealthy upper class of America. Similarly, in Macbeth, Lady Macbeth's meticulously planned out words of trickery and manipulation eventually compel Macbeth to kill Duncan in order to prove his manliness. To accomplish her ploy of stirring Macbeth into murder, Lady Macbeth taunts Macbeth continually about his womanly cowardice saying, "And, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man." (I, 7, 50-51) Although she takes a back seat in the latter scenes, her initial influence on Macbeth cannot be undermined; by convincing Macbeth into committing this first great crime, she introduces him to evil, later driving him to commit similar treacherous crimes, leading to his descent into savagery, and his eventual downfall. This similarity between the works, however, coexists with a difference concerning very much the same topic of discussion. That is, while a woman plays a large role in both works, in The Great Gatsby, Daisy does not share a common vision with Gatsby of being one with him. In fact, she treats his desires with disregard in that she rejects him because although he has grand wealth, he is still socially inferior to Tom; her criteria for judging men is only constituent of two factors - wealth and social status. Her character shows the disintegration of the American dream into a mere quest for wealth and she is a by-product of the morally decadent, elite classes of America. Daisy's moral decay and obduracy is particularly evident when she lets Gatsby take the blame for Myrtle's death; instead of displaying responsibility, or perhaps just appreciation for Gatsby's admirable love, she decides it best for her lover to harbor the weight of her crimes while she makes it out clean. Contrarily, in Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and her husband aspire for the same objective - obtaining the throne of Scotland. When they first meet in the play, Lady Macbeth says, "Thy letters have transported me beyond this ignorant present,...
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