The key theme I will be covering is the nature of ambition. Throughout my four texts, ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare, ‘Gattaca’ directed by Andrew Niccol, ‘Invictus’ directed by Clint Eastwood, and ‘Sons of Anarchy’ created by Kurt Sutter, I narrowed three connections down that I will be writing about. These are “How can ambition be a poisonous trait?”, “What makes a person develop ambition?”, and “How does ambition feed a person’s leadership aspirations?”.
How can ambition be a poisonous trait?
In ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and ‘Macbeth’, we watch the transformation of two charming and good-hearted men who lose their way through both of their ambitious quests. Jackson Teller finds his purpose in the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club by aiming to pursue his late fathers’ legacy of getting SAMCRO out of running guns and looking for ways to earn legitimately. Once he attained president, he set motion to his plans but quickly discovered splitting from organized crime was going to be harder than first imagined. Each person he murdered was covered up by another murder. Jax began to realize his bid to do good had resulted in more hurt than ever rectifiable. “I’m not a good man. I’m a criminal and a killer. I need my sons to grow up hating the thought of me”. Teller’s ambition had caused him to kill over forty people before eventually killing himself in a bid to put an end to the madness he had created. ‘Macbeth’ follows a Scottish general named Macbeth who receives a prophecy from three witches that he will become King of Scotland. Absorbed by the ambition of his wife, he kills King Duncan and takes hold of the Scottish throne. Filled with paranoia and fear, Macbeth murders more and more people in an effort to protect himself. “to be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus”. The killing of King Duncan does not bring Macbeth peace hence his state of paranoia. His power stint eventually comes to end when he is killed at the hands of Macduff. We see a similarity between the two texts, this being that Jax’s and Macbeth’s ambition being what got them killed. ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and ‘Macbeth’ show us how ambition can become a poisonous trait when power is put into the hands of the wrong people.
What makes a person develop ambition?
‘Invictus’ follows the triumphant 1995 Springboks rugby team and how their relationship with Nelson Mandela helped the once losing team become world rugby champions. During the film, we see Mandela asking the Springboks captain what his thoughts on being a good leader were, and what it would take to win the world cup. Mandela was frequently at trainings and games on the sideline encouraging the team to believe in themselves as much as he believed in them. “Times change, we need to as well”. Throughout the duration of the film, we watch a distinct change in the mindsets and attitudes of the Springboks. They develop the ambition they need to win through the support of Mandela and his visible belief in them. In ‘Gattaca’, we follow the ambition of Vincent Freeman and his desire to go to space. He lives in a time where from birth, you are given a perfect genetic makeup, however he wasn’t lucky enough to get this as he was born with a heart defect. This meant he would never be able to make into space school. Vincent’s ambition sees him adopt someone else’s identity who has the perfect genetic composition and uses this to get what he wants. “I was never more certain of how far away I was from my goal than when I was standing right beside it”. We see Vincent’s ambition become reality as he stuck to his dream and was mentally strong enough to wait in sight of his end goal. We can also see that Vincent being so close to his dream is what fed his ambition. ‘Invictus’ and ‘Gattaca’ shows the us that a person’s development of ambition often comes from misfortune or difficulty giving an individual reasoning to challenge what many believe they can’t do.
How does ambition feed a person’s leadership aspirations?
In ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Jax’s ambition to get SAMCRO out of gun running and into a legitimate business was what pushed him to attain president. The Sons had been in the illegal gun trade for over 20 years, importing Russian made AK47’s and smuggling them into California in oil barrels through the Sons of Anarchy charter in Ireland. The president at the time (Clay Morrow) wanted to keep it that way. However, when ATF came knocking on their doors and their gun factory was burnt down Jax saw an opportunity to start up a legitimate business and get out of the criminal enterprise. His push for change saw SAMCRO inherit the Cara Cara pornographic film studio. “Today I will be the man my father tried to be. I will make you proud”. We can see that Jax’s ambition to get SAMCRO out of the gun running business was what fed his aspiration to lead the charter and take it down a clean path. In ‘Macbeth’ we see Macbeth’s ambition to become the King of Scotland eventually push him into his desired leadership role. His aspiration saw him get where he wanted, in a corrupt and unethical way. Macbeths ambition to become a leader saw him murder 5 people in his quest to gain rule. “Two truths are told. As happy prologues to the swelling act. Of th’imperial theme”. We can see that Macbeths ambition to lead saw him set his morality aside to reach his goal. We can also see that his ambition overruled his conscience and turned him into a murderous tyrant. ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and ‘Macbeth’ show us that ambition can be used as a powerful motive to attain roles of rule and leadership.
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Throughout my four texts, I have learnt that ambition is what can push people to greatness and create positive change, however ambition can also create chaos and havoc when it develops into personal agenda. Ambition is seen from a different perspective across the four texts. One key common characteristic amongst Jax teller, Vincent Freeman, Macbeth, and the Springboks was the concept of self believe along with personal drive. This can be linked back to human nature as many of us dwell over the negative consequences rather than backing ourselves and doing something new, possibly life changing.
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