Ambition In Macbeth And Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

Superior Essays
Ambition is defined to be the intense desire to achieve one’s goals as well as the unwavering perseverance to obtain success. While some people let ambition empower them to become their best selves, others let ambition control them to the point of failure. Through the characters of Macbeth in Macbeth and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, both William Shakespeare and Arthur Miller reveal how uncontrolled ambition and reckless dreams possess the capability to lead one to their destruction. Ambition leads the characters to be extremely gullible and destroys their moral conscience and integrity. Moreover, ambition leads the protagonists to destroy their relationships with those most important to them. Furthermore, their passion to achieve success …show more content…
Macbeth, once a man of great nobility and virtue, starts to believe in all that the Witches say without question or doubt. He not only lets the Witches’ prophecies push him to betray the king, but he lets their words drive him to succumb fully into evil. Macbeth’s ambition creates his need to know the truth, eventually influencing him to destroy his own morality. Macbeth, once a saviour to some, no longer fights to rid the world of evil but instead even encourages it, “Even till destruction sicken, answer me / To what I ask you” (Shakespeare 4.1.60-61). Once God-fearing, Macbeth’s ambition leads him to throw away his beliefs and focus solely on his goals, no matter the consequences. Similarly, Willy’s values and ethics are compromised due to his obsession with success and the American dream. In Death of a Salesman, Willy believes all the lies that his family tells him and even believes the ones he tells himself. His lies convince him that he is greater than who he truly is, “I averaged a hundred and seventy dollars a week in the year of 1928” (Miller 82) despite never actually achieving success. Willy’s refusal to see the truth causes him to treat other people poorly. His ambition causes him to see other people as inferior and pushes him to lash out and often act aggressively. Once an inspiring and devoted salesman, …show more content…
Ambition leads both protagonists to be excessively ignorant and heartless towards morality, as is seen (p.t., w.c. present) when Macbeth calls for destruction as well as (and) when Willy treats people as inferior to him. The deterioration of the relationships between Macbeth and his wife and Willy and his son also exhibits how uncontrolled ambition has the power to wreak havoc on even the people one cares the most about. Macbeth’s hallucinations, such as with the dagger and Willy’s flashbacks such as with the car also showcase how deadly ambition is, as it has the power to lead one to complete delusion. The desire to achieve success and the determination to strive for it despite the challenges is a characteristic that is extremely attractive at first glance. However, through the characters of Macbeth and Willy, Shakespeare and Miller perfectly exhibit how this desire without control or restraint can manipulate some to do more harm than

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    Willy Loman is a highly ambitious but mediocre salesman past his prime who cannot settle for anything less. However, driven by corrupt ideals, delusional thoughts, and false idolatry, the American Dream remained elusive. As a result, Willy can never come to terms with his failure as a father for failing to instill solid values into his sons and failure in his chosen career. The promise of the American Dream turns into a nightmare that pushes Willy to his limits mentally and commits suicide as his desperate move to find…

    • 1600 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    “Power is dangerous, it attracts the worst and corrupts the best” Edward Abbey once said on how addictive power can be. In William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, Shakespeare demonstrates how the lust for power can make anyone lose their identity in order to achieve power. Because of the desire for power, people will betray anyone in their way, even if they’re close. They disregard their conscience, which leads to immense guilt, thus a part of their humanity is stripped away. In addition, power makes people greedy.…

    • 1149 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Danforth knows that any “ postponement [will speak] a floundering on [his] part” (129). He is too stubborn to admit he has been deceived by a group of young girls because it has gone on for so long, and his reputation will be ruined. If the trials are found to be false, Danforth will lose his authority and power due to the large number of innocent people who are in jail or dead because of him. His reputation is all he has and losing it scares him. Danforth’s position gives him selfish intentions and a stubborn attitude in the midst of great…

    • 755 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This also shows a tendency of ruining his relationships with those around him, which contradicts his stress of being well liked. When Willy is found in a state of denial, his resolutions often dig him into a hole in which he cannot escape, which he then denies that he has any problems. The complications Willy is encountered by often result in giving him more troubles, being that his false and unhealthy understanding of success are warped and causing tragedy for not only himself, but those who surround…

    • 771 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    However, towards the ending of the first act, after Macbeth hears the prophecy of the three witches, his actions and thoughts emphasize his desire for power and the crown. This prophecy leads Macbeth to kill for what he desires and he eventually turns into a tyrant and murderer. The guilt of his horrible actions put a toll on his mental health causing him to have hallucinations. Macbeth’s actions in the play are treacherous but he himself isn’t exactly an evil character in the play. He constantly questions his wrong doings and is forced to commit more mayhem due to his rash way of thinking.…

    • 1386 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Macbeth’s guilt pulls him into a downward spiral where his feelings turn into paranoia, and his precautions to remain innocent, become tyranny. Similarly, in Death of a Salesman,Willy’s desire to be rich, well-liked and recognized for his hard work, leads him to become a salesman. Willy explains how Dave Singleman inspires him to become a salesman in this quote, “WILLY: ... I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want...” (Miller,Act 2, pg 63). Willy becomes a salesman but cannot support his family because he does not acquire the necessary skills of a successful salesman.…

    • 1088 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Tragic Hero Essay “Lead me away. I have been rash and foolish. I have killed my son and my wife.” -Creon Antigone, the play written by Sophocles, is about the dangers of pride and how it causes catastrophe for Creon. He nevers listens to reason or anybody else because he does not want to admit when he is wrong. He does this out of pride and it eventually ends up accidentally killing the ones he loves most and leaves him with nothing.…

    • 1046 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Willy is frustrated because of the people who surround him, such as Biff, Howard, Ben, and Charley. Biff frustrates Willy because Willy believes that Biff is the next great businessman, even though Biff is a bum. Willy is frustrated by Howard because Howard doesn’t show him the respect his father did and Howard doesn’t care about their prior relationships. Willy is frustrated with Ben and Charley because both either were close to him or are close to him, but their success generates jealousy and frustration. Willy, being surrounded with powerful, successful characters, feels oppression caused by his failures.…

    • 1760 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The outcome and downfall of his pride are so destructive that he stabs himself in the eyes, for the moment he could see the sinful, immoral, life he led, he no longer wanted to. Pride blinds both Oedipus and Othello, simultaneously disguising their internal weakness. Hamlet also suffered from internal weakness, although his was revealed through his personality. His character can be recognized as a tragic hero, as similar to Othello and Hamlet he failed in his ultimate quest. Where they failed in their quest to self-knowledge, under the blindfold of pride, Hamlet failed in his quest for justice, limited by his tragic flaw.…

    • 1497 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Having finally acted on suicide by driving to his death. Biff become to resent his father and become to realization of his life being a complete lie. In the end no insurance money was to be collected and his death was rather sorrowful for he died believing the money was to be used towards his favored son. Within the play of “Death of a Salesman”, Arthur Miller makes the reader such as myself realize things that, “we people” do to the most to be “well liked”, such as lying to avoid the truth, believing that we are not as good as we are without being dishonest. For many are rather shallow and insecure and value highly what others think as “failures”.…

    • 826 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays