Destruction and Dishonesty Due to Ambition
Even the most honorable men in history have lose their dreams due to their ambitions, much like Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Macbeth in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Ambition, usually defines as a positive characteristic. However Ambition also contains many perils since it is excess. In many ways, the similarities and difference in the ambitions of Gatsby and Macbeth lead to their external and internal destructions, and their loss of integrity at earlier and later stages.
To begin with, Gatsby and Macbeth both have external destructions to others due to their ambition. Through the story, Gatsby tries to win back the girl of his dream. He would rather ruin the marriage between Tom and Daisy in order to approach his dream girl. “‘She never loved you, do you hear? ’ he cried. ‘She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me’” (Fitzgerald 131). It shows how Gatsby’s ambition of love challenges Tom and his marriage with Daisy.
Similar as Gatsby, Macbeth also destroys many people even their lives due to his ambition. Following the prophecy of witches, Macbeth tries to kill everyone who will interfere his kingship, even his comrade Banquo is murdered by his conspiracy. The murder was awarded by Macbeth orally, “Thou art the best o’ th’ cutthroats: / Yet he’s good that did the like for Fleance. / If thou didst it, thou art the nonpareil. ” (3. 4. 18-20) Thus, Gatsby and Macbeth all destruct others because of their ambitions.
Secondly, at the early stages of both two works, Both Gatsby and Macbeth lose their integrities because of their ambitions. Gatsby knows it is important to be rich, because that can attract Daisy, so his methods of becoming rich are that of doing illegal activities and lying about his poor background. “’He’s a bootlegger,’ said the young ladies, moving somewhere between his cocktails and his flowers. ” (61) For the purpose of approaching Daisy, Gatsby sells illegal alcohols during in the past.
Although this is dishonesty, it is the only way to become rich quickly. Just as Gatsby, Macbeth believes the prophecy from the witches that he will one day become a king; as a result, he decides to assassinate Duncan in order to fulfill his ambition faster. After Lady Macbeth motivates Macbeth to murder Duncan, Macbeth says: “I am settled and bend up / Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. ” (1. 7. 80-81) The quote reveals that Macbeth has determined to execute the Duncan. Therefore, Macbeth’s ambition makes him to lose his integrity.
Even though the similarities of external destruction and earlier period of dishonesty both are identified from Gatsby and Macbeth, there are still many differences between them. The internal destructions of Gatsby and Macbeth are quite distinct. Gatsby comes as an inferior beginning. For Gatsby, lying about his identities cannot make him realize that he is slowly destroying himself from the inside. When Nick mentions that Gatsby may not recall his past, Gatsby says that: “Can’t repeat the past? … Why of course you can! ” (111) Gatsby does not feel his personal downfall after he amasses the fortune that he believes now.
Unlike Gatsby, Macbeth is at first a loyal general of Duncan’s army. However, his identity falls from a noble man to an evil killer, turning Macbeth into a psychological destruction. “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, / Strong both against the dead; then, as his host, / Not bear the knife myself. ” (1. 7. 13-16) In this soliloquy, Macbeth debates whether he should kill Duncan since he notices the loyalty that he toward his king. Meanwhile, Macbeth admits that he has “…only / Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / And falls on th’ other. ” (1. 7. 6-28) Thus, this ambition directly leads to Macbeth’s moral destruction. When both Gatsby and Macbeth reach their goal, Gatsby only cheats for what he wants which is Daisy. But Macbeth continues to follow the witches’ prediction, and begins to kill more people.
Gatsby, in the whole story, lies only in order to convince Daisy that he is the greatest man, in aspects such as wealthy assents, and outstanding education. The conversations between Tom and Gatsby provide that Gatsby cheats his education background. “‘By the way, Mr. Gatsby, I understand you’re an Oxford man. ’ /‘Not exactly. / ‘Oh, yes, I understand you went to Oxford. ’ / ‘Yes — I went there. ’” (129) Macbeth, however, trusts the prediction firmly later on. He follows the indications, and he lies and kills many innocent people. “ The castle of Macduff I will surprise, / Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword / His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls / That trace him in his line. ” (4. 1. 156-160) When Lennox tells Macbeth that Macduff has fled to England, Macbeth enlightens and resolves to send murderers to capture Macduff’s castle and to kill Macduff’s wife and children.
So Gatsby and Macbeth all lose their integrities at the beginning Nevertheless Gatsby maintains his falsity, Macbeth deteriorates his baneful of integrity. Lastly, it can be drawn into a conclusion that ambitions lead both Gatsby and Macbeth to their destruction on other people and themselves, and their loss of integrities in different time periods. Admittedly, ambitions belong to advantageous individual’s trait; it has conducive effects on personal pursuit. However, ambition also can lead the destruction and dishonesty much like Gatsby and Macbeth if the ambition is unchecked.