Ambition is a strong theme that many people apply into their lives. Having the desire and determination to achieve success and fully satisfy one’s ambitions and aspirations is an irresistible need too many, of whom live their lives fighting for and chasing after it. But Is ambition good or bad?  I have chosen the theme of ambition to explore that ambition its self should not be defined as being good or bad but by the way, someone applies their ambition to achieve success and furthermore determine their own fate. I have chosen four texts of which thoroughly explore the use of ambition in different ways to obtain success. The poem Ozymandias written by Percy Shelley, the play ‘Macbeth’ written by famous play write William Shakespeare, the film Gattaca written by Andrew Niccol and finally the song ‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem. Each of the texts communicates the act of ambition however in each text ambition has been used differently to achieve the success and Ultimately determine the fate of each of the characters within the texts.

Ozymandias written by Percy Shelley Is a poem which explores the idea of a   deceased king and his statue turned to ruins. This text illustrates the idea that despite the large amount of power us as humans believe we obtain, ambition used poorly is only temporary and in spite of what we may deceive ourselves to think, It isn’t forever. Furthermore, this Poem shows us that although ambition was used It was used in a bad way and thus leading to an unwanted outcome. The poet describes Ozymandias as having “sneer of cold command” this implies that Ozymandias had power over the people before him and held his head high as he believed he was most important. The poet later goes onto describe become on the pedestal in front of the statue. “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” In this quote, we can develop an understanding that Ozymandias used his ambition to create a sense of authority amongst the people of the ancient land. He describes himself as a man of great power that those who stand before him should be frightened become.  This poem shows us that the character Ozymandias has used his ambition in such a negative way to pull himself to the top by causing others to feel threatened. Ozymandias believes that because of his ambition his power and reign over others will continue forever. However, it becomes clear to us that, his power was only temporary. His ambition only leads to his destruction and although he believed his power would live on through the years to come it became “a shattered visage” in a vast and abandoned desert. “Half sunk, a shattered visage lies” This quote is referring to the statue built of Ozymandias in hopes of his power living on forever, however in this quote the poet talks about the head of the statue , and half buried in the sand, this expresses irony because the statue was built to ensure the power of Ozymandias would live forever but instead is abandon.  The poem of Ozymandias underlines my statement that yes Ozymandias did have ambition however his ambition was used in such a way to diminish others to gain power and furthermore expresses that with this the statue along with his ambition and power are now a  “colossal wreck” forgotten in an ancient desert. Vincent’s in conjunction with the play ‘Macbeth’ written by William Shakespeare shows us that when Ambition is used negatively to achieve success over others, causes the fate of whoever uses it to become lifeless and defeated.

“All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” In the Play Macbeth written by William Shakespeare, the character Macbeth is confronted by his and his wife’s ambition to become King of Scotland and do so by killing his faithful friend King Duncan. Macbeth uses his ambitious nature to fulfill the prophecies set by the three witches at the beginning of the play. After hearing of his potential reign of Scotland Macbeth’s ambition begins to take reign of his actions. Through the murder of King Duncan and the many other ambitious and cruel tasks Macbeth undertakes to satisfy the need for success, Macbeth’s mind begins to degenerate. Macbeth’s mind becomes fractured by guilt and corrupt by evil and we gain a sense of this as throughout the play his mind starts to deceive him. Macbeth continues to strive to achieve his ambition however due to the way he applies his ambition he only causes his mind to degenerate due to guilt. We gain a sense of this after Macbeth learns of his wife’s death in Act 5 scene 5 when staircase says “Tomorrow and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time”.  This quote along with the rest of the play is written in Iambic pentameter as well the previous text Ozymandias. Iambic pentameter Is when each line consists of five iambs. An Iamb consists of one short or distressed syllable followed by a long or stressed syllable. In this case, the line  “to the last syllable of recorded time”  ends with what is called a “weak foot”. A weak foot is a disruption in the iambic rhythm because the last Iamb in the line is incomplete. Shakespeare indicates that Macbeth who is a character with great status in the play is experiencing some sort of mental degeneration following his previous ambitious actions. It reveals that he used his ambition in a way that caused his great grief and furthermore resulted in his, destruction. Macbeth used his ambition to become a higher social status and become king. Like in the Film Gattaca by Andrew Niccol, where the character Vincent whats to become a top astronaut and make the space trip to one of Saturns moons. Both the film Gattaca and Macbeth show the main character fighting for their way to the top using their ambition. However, in both situations, ambition is used in different ways in hopes of achieving similar outcomes. This is of significance to the theme of ambition being defined by how a person uses it as opposed to ambition its Vincent’s good or bad.

Ambition in itself can be used in so many ways to achieve many different outcomes. Whether ambition causes tragedy or an act of heroism. Ambition itself cannot be labeled as a good thing nor as a bad thing. As in the previous text, the character Macbeth uses his ambition In the sacrifice of others to achieve an outcome, murdering the people/barriers that stand in his way. However, in the film Gattaca written by Andrew Niccol the character, Vincent who is genetically disadvantaged uses his ambition to conquer the barriers of his own genetic makeup stopping him from reaching his dream of being a part of the Gattaca space programme. Both Macbeth and Vincent use their ambition to reach a dream where both characters are seen above others. However, in the film Gattaca the way that ambition is used does not impair others or cause any form of sacrificing others to get to the top and the only barriers that Vincent has to overcome are that of his genetics. Vincent is a “faith-born” this means that he is made of no genetic modifications and is fully natural. In the dystopian world created by Niccol, Vincent finds himself at a disadvantage, living in a world where the genetic makeup of a human becomes determined by science to better yet genetically engineer ‘the perfect human’ and live the best and longest life. Because Vincent is a child of God and not of science he encounters a barrier of a life expectancy of 30 years due to heart failure. Because of this Vincent has no way of making it into the space programme. However, despite his disadvantages causing him to become a lower class citizen and an “invalid” Vincent still posses the act of ambition. Vincent then uses his ambition to conquer the impossible and break past the rules of the discriminative society. Vincent decides that he must push past his inner barriers of his DNA. He then meets Jerome who is a genetically perfect yet paralyzed. Together with Jerome, Vincent borrows his genetic identity in order to reach his goal of traveling to one of Saturns moons as a part of the Gattaca space programme. Later in the film Jerome and Vincent’s secret becomes Jeopardised and as they have both used their ambition to conquer Vincent’s barriers, Jerome finds himself at the bottom of a helix-shaped staircase. In order for Vincent and Jerome to avoid their defeat, Jerome who is paralyzed has to climb up the helix staircase using his arms before the two officials make it to the front door. Jerome is able to do this because of his ambition. Furthermore this moment can be taken as a metaphor as the Helix shape of the staircase is also the shape of DNA, this metaphor shows that not only did Jerome conquer his barrier of making It up the stairs paralyzed to save both him and Vincent but also expresses that he and Vincent have conquered Vincents DNA and genetic disadvantages. Vincent then successfully conquers the voyage to Saturns moon and does so using his ambition. This text along with Lose Yourself and against examples like Ozymandias and Macbeth all show us that Ambition is not good or bad as a whole but can be either dependent on how ambition is applied.

Finally, the song ‘lose yourself’ written by Eminem expresses how ambition was used to conquer the disadvantages he had grown up as a troubled kid. This along with the film Gattaca both show ambition being used in no negative way to disrupt anyone but only to pull themselves to the top despite each of them growing up in a world where they are of a disadvantage. The song Lose yourself was written for the movie ‘8 Mile’ which is a film based on Eminem himself coming from a troubled childhood of fighting in underground rap battles to then later overcoming the barriers and restrictions and soaring to success. The song communicates the idea of despite the failures someone may encounter on their way, ambition is a driving force to achieve success. “Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked, he’s so mad but he won’t Give up that easy nope, he won’t have it, he knows
His whole back’s to these ropes, it don’t matter, he’s dope”. Rabbit is the childhood name that Eminem’s mother called him when he was a young boy. This line from the rap talks about Eminem (Rabbit) failing his first rap battle and therefore choking on his opportunity to achieve his dream. He then goes onto say  “he’s so mad but he won’t Give up that easy nope,” this line refers to his use of ambition and the strength and determination to then go on and achieve great things because of his motivation not to give up. The song as a whole communicates that Eminem came from a troubled childhood coming from a broken home and then later went onto conquer the world of hip-hop and become an award-winning artist all because of the way he used his ambition to achieve the great success he is now so famous for. 

In conclusion after studying all four texts It has become apparent to me that ambition should not be defined as something good or something bad, but by the way, someone applies their ambition to determine their fate. In the poem, Ozymandias and the play Macbeth, ambition is used in the sacrifice of other people and is used in a negative way. This only resulted in defeat and destruction. However in the film, Gattaca and the song ‘Lose yourself’ ambition was applied for the greater good of the character but in a way that no-one and nothing was negatively affected and their aspirations were reached. But in all four texts ambition was used in hopes of achieving success.  This observation concludes that ambition is not something that can be labeled as something that is good or something that is bad. These texts show us that it is not ambition itself which is good or bad but it is the way you choose to use your ambition to achieve success that can truly determine the fate and outcome of any situation.

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  1. Achievement Achievement with Merit Achievement with Excellence
    • Explain significant connection(s) across texts, using supporting evidence.
    • Convincingly explain significant connection(s) across texts, using supporting evidence.
    • Perceptively explain significant connection(s) across texts, using supporting evidence.



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