Ambition is portrayed in a vast variety of ways from determined persistence to greed driven thirst for power. The unforgiving desire to achieve one’s goal can lead to victorious success as shown in the movie, Gattaca by Andrew Niccol, or a plummeting corruption of the mind, displayed in the William Shakespeare play, Macbeth. Throughout these texts, also including the song, Patience by Nas and Damien Marley and Ozymandius, a poem written by Percy Shelly, the idea of the contrast between negative and positive effects of ambition continues to hold a relative meaning which link the individual writer’s opinions and ideas to one another.

The poem, Ozymandius, written by Percy Shelley tells the tale of a once vein and ambitious leader who believed his glory would live on long after he had passed. As inscripted into the pedestal  of his self portrait statue, he boasts, ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!.’ This proves the ruler’s conceited nature and how highly he thinks of himself and his achievements. His ambition was focused towards becoming a world renowned leader that would go down in history with a reputation of glory behind his name. The poem is written in the perspective of a traveller telling his tale of the decaying remainders of Ozymadius’ statue, he describes the ruin as, “two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert… near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command.” The idea of the negative effects of ambition are shown through the fragmentary remainders of Ozymandius’ great statue. This concept projects that despite his arrogant characteristics and pretentious opinions, the only impact he left remaining in his position was the shattered ruins of his statue, which clearly proves the emptiness of his shallow boasts.

Play write, William Shakespeare further represents the negative usage of ambition through the use of his characters in the play, Macbeth. Specifically the most prominent character, Macbeth and how his obsessive desire for power drove his life to a plummeting halt. When Macbeth is told by the witches in the story that he was to lead a promising future of royalty, “All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!”, he lets his rapacious ambition toward fulfilling his goals get the best of him until he begins to loose grip of his sanity and fall into a greed orientated thirst for leadership. “Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”  This quotation proves that although Macbeth is knowledgeable that his action are sinful and unforgivable, he pleads to blanket them from the heavens to maintain his innocence, however he has no intent to discontinue his murderous deeds until he reaches his desired position of power. Macbeth portrays the idea that when used with a selfish objective , ambition is immensely destructive. The concept of stopping at nothing to get what you desire does not mean to disregard the impact of your actions upon others.

Ambition is neither a negative or positive concept, although the effects can go either way depending on how it is expressed or the mind set behind its use. One representation of ambition being used as a positive way to achieve ones hopes and dreams is throughout the movie, Gattaca, written and directed by Andrew Niccol. The film is set in a time where those who are genetically engineered to fit the needs of the society take precedent over those who are naturally born. The story tells the tale of Vincent Freeman, an aspiring astronaut struggling the battle against his own naturally structured dna. “My name is Vincent, Anton Freeman and i’m a faith birth or a degenerate or whatever you want to call it.” Niccol portrays ambition through his character Vincent through the unforgiving perseverance to pursue his life long dream. To do so, Vincent continues to demolish stereotypes of natural born children and build an indestructible path for himself, leading straight to his goal, space. He combines identity with Jerome Morrow, a perfect, genetically modified athlete who was tragically disabled in a suicide attempt, to strategically switch dna and push past the strict genetic regulations of the space corporation of Gattaca. “I got the better end of the deal. I only lent you my body – you lent me your dream.”

Another significant showcase of ambition is through the lyrical content of the song, Patience (Sabali), from the album, Distant Relatives, written through a collaboration of Nas And Damian Marley. The lyrics of this song question the structure of the modern world’s political, economical, racial and social structural dilemmas. “Thief out the gold and thief out the scrolls and even the buried bones, some of the worst paparazzi iv ever seen and iv ever known, put the worst on display so the world can see and that is all they will ever show.” This particular section of Damian’s first verse refers to how the media displays society and warps the way in which people view it. “Thief out the gold and thief out the scrolls and even the buried bones” explains the unfortunate reality of greed in the modern world and the point of selfishness humanity has reached. The song is clearly written in an ambitious mindset with the intention to improve the problems of todays society. By expressing their opinions of the corrupting environment around us, Nas and Damian Marley are forcing a second thought and opening the eyes of their audience to their surroundings.

These four texts portray a broad representation of ambition and the effects of how one applies it to reach an aim. Through the lyricism and real-life observations of the song, Patience by Nas and Damian Marley we get an insight into how they view the evolving society around us and the issues that come with it, with an ambitious mind set, they wrote the lyrics to spark awareness and change on the problematic areas of the modern world.  A rather contradicting approach to ambition is portrayed in the Shakespeare play, Macbeth where the destructive effects of greed causes insanity.  The poem Ozymandius by Percy Shelley also shows negative effects of ambitious nature by showing that how ever much arrogance and power one may have, if ambition is not implied, it will have no impact on their environment. Although when efficiently enforced with passion and persistance, ambition can lead to success and the making of dreams into reality, as viewed in the movie, Gattaca, written and directed by Andrew Niccol. 

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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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