Ambition In Macbeth

1072 Words5 Pages
Throughout its history, literature has often illustrated the struggle of the individual against society. Two works of literature—one classic and one modern—provide valuable insights on this topic: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Will Ferguson’s 419. Despite the vast difference in the respective settings of medieval Scotland and modern Nigeria, both depict a hierarchical society in which ambitious individuals resort to blind pragmatism, isolate themselves in self-detachment, and endure an ultimate karmic downfall, demonstrating that ambition must not be placed above morality. This is shown in Macbeth through the title character, a Scottish thane obsessed with his prophecy of becoming King of Scotland, willing to murder for it, despite knowing the immorality in his actions. In 419, the deuteragonist Winston Balogun, a Nigerian financial scammer, pursues his ambitions oblivious to the ramifications of his behaviour. After realizing their ambition for advancement in their respective hierarchical societies, both Macbeth and Winston begin to lose their senses of morality and focus on their individual advancement, becoming blindly pragmatic. Initially, Macbeth attempts to maintain his sense of morality—keeping his ambitions at bay. However, his morality is overcome through the words of Lady Macbeth, and the Witches, supernatural beings who equivocate his rise to the throne. For example, Macbeth explains to Lady Macbeth: We will proceed no further in this business [Duncan’s murder]. He hath honored me of late, and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, Not cast aside so soon. (Macbeth 1.7.31-35) When these moral doubts about his murderous plan become apparent, however, ... ... middle of paper ... ...narratives in their respective characters of Macbeth and Winston—one consisting of three distinct parts. Both characters’ narratives begin with becoming blindly pragmatic and embracing immorality, with external persuasion, as Macbeth does, or without, like Winston. This blind pragmatism then leads to detachment—emotional or physical—from close relationships as these characters advance in their hierarchical societies. Their rise is followed by a final karmic downfall, as both characters pay moral penance at the hands of the victims of their immorality through methods they had employed in their rise. Through this shared tripartite journey, both Shakespeare and Ferguson have one key message to apply to reality—humans should never undermine their moral judgement to pursue their ambitions, for those that do so will suffer in a genuinely karmic fashion for their immorality.

More about Ambition In Macbeth

Open Document