Ambition is a person’s drive or motivation to achieve something. It can come in different forms and can also influence / affect others as well. A person’s ambition can sometimes be for a good or bad cause and have positive of negative outcomes. In these stories I’m discussing It especially stands out in characters which have a goal or a need for something.

Paragraph 1 – Macbeth 

In Macbeth ambition is shown throughout the play, especially in the  character of Macbeth. Macbeth gets a prophecy from the witches that he will become king. At first I believe Macbeth did not think much of it and had no intention of going out of his way so he can become king. His thoughts were that if the witches prophecy were to be true then he won’t need to do anything to become king and it will occur naturally. However when he returned to discuss it with Lady Macbeth she was very excited by this and thought they needed to take action. Macbeth’s ambition was greatly influenced and triggered by Lady Macbeth. She then got Macbeth in the mindset to kill the King (King Duncan) which he did. Macbeth said 

“Let not light see my black and deep desires.”

This shows his ambition was not of a great form and he wanted to hide it from the light / he didn’t want anyone to know his “black and deep desires” His ambition before killing King Duncan was mostly motivated by his and Lady Macbeth’s greed, selfishness and desire for power. After the killing of Duncan however, Macbeth’s mind and thoughts start to break down as it is unlike Macbeth to do this crime and Lady Macbeth drove him to do things he might not usually do (Killing King Duncan)

Paragraph 2 – Gattaca

In Gattaca ambition is used and shown in a much different way. Vincent the main character is a God child which means he was naturally conceived not in a lab or modified. This meant from birth he already had extremely high chances of dying early on in his life, maybe even before he is 30 years old. One factor for this is he was born with heart problems and also had high chances of having other problems to. Vincent’s ambition is to become an astronaut. His ambition is used in a much different way than Macbeth. Vincent uses his ambition for his own personal goals of becoming an astronaut. On the other hand Macbeth’s ambition is encouraged more by greed, selfishness for power and is also encouraged by his wife, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth was ambitious enough to kill people to get to where he wanted to be, which was to become king. Vincent found a much different way which was to pretend to be someone else who is genetically modified so he would then become a “valid” and get the job instantly because of his supposedly “perfect” genes. This “valid” he was pretending to be was called Jerome. Jerome was a former swimming star however, in a big race and came 2nd. Because of this he thought he was a failure and tried to commit suicide by jumping in front of a car.  This didn’t kill him though and was now paralyzed from the waist down. After meeting Jerome Vincent said

“Jerome had been engineered with everything he needed to get into Gattaca, except the desire to do so”

Jerome did not have any ambition and was more than happy to let Vincent have his life and thought this at least gave him a purpose in life. Before “becoming Jerome” Vincent started off by becoming a cleaner at Gattaca. He would always watch the rockets take of and fly overhead. Being this close and seeing rockets and Gattaca may have also sparked his ambition even more. Once he became Jerome he instantly got the job at Gattaca and then later on it was his time and he became an astronaut.Many others around him in his life were modified to make the best vision of themselves. Because of this there was a great advantage for these genetically modified people and gave Vincent a large setback in anything he tried to do. An example of the disadvantages and his ambition to overcome this setback of his genetics is when him and his brother Anton were young they would swim out into the ocean and swim as far as they could until one of them got to tired and turned back. Anton would win nearly every time due to his major advantage as he was genetically modified to make the best vision of himself which made him physically stronger. However, one day Vincent bet Anton.  This shows some of Vincent’s ambition and how it’s not just Anton’s physical advantage which is causing Vincent to lose it is the human spirit which it quotes at the start of the movie

“There is no gene for the human spirit”.

After beating Anton Vincent’s ambition became even stronger as he knew he could achieve things even if he was disadvantaged because of his genetics. His human spirit is what could get him to where he wanted to be and he does get there in the end because of his strong ambition to become an astronaut.

Paragraph 3 – Shawshank Redemption

In Shawshank Redemption the ambition is conveyed in a fairly similar way to that in Gattaca. Andy Dufresne the main character is a young city banker who was given a life sentence in Shawshank prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. Andy however was innocent but nobody else believed him. Andy’s ambition in the end was to escape the prison. In the movie Gattaca Vincent is trying to get into Gattaca but in Shawshank Redemption Andy is trying to get out of prison so there main goal is fairly similar. Andy over time did escape by digging a small hole through the wall which was hiding behind his poster. When he arrived at Shawshank he was initially disliked but over time many inmates began to respect and admire him. He especially made good friends with a man named Red who was great at getting things that people wanted into the prison. He then goes on to gain the trust of the guards and even started dealing with the guards and the wardens tax returns and financial problems. This meant it was much easier to get away with things for example a poster which Red snuck in for him. Andy was very intelligent and did not belong in Shawshank. Andy never let his spirit be affected by the walls around him and over time quite a bit of confidence and ambition begins to show through the thoughts and actions that he takes. A little before he breaks out he is taking to red and says

“That there’s something inside… That they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.”

Red then asks what he is talking about and then Andy backs it up by saying “Hope”.  Red however doesn’t believe that hope is a good thing but Andy strives off it and his ambition is greatly inspired by hope and a life on the outside. His ambition was forced upon him even more after a young man called Tommy arrived at Shawshank. Tommy had been in and out of prisons all his life and when he heard about Andy’s story he suddenly remembered something that one of the prisoners were bragging about. The prisoner was bragging about how he killed a woman and her lover which was the crime that Andy was framed for. This fired up his ambition and made tommy explain the story to the warden. The warden was not taking any of it and arranged to kill Tommy.  Andy’s ambition in this part of the movie may have been too ambitious and had a large consequence which was the death of Tommy. Again this is Andy doing whatever he can to get out of Shawshank.

Another time Andy Dufresne shows ambition is when he becomes the librarian after Brooks the old librarian left the prison. Brooks then went on to kill himself as life on the outside was so different and hard to what he knew. Andy was close with Brooks and wanted to improve the library and to make it a memorial for him. To do this however it would be very hard to get funding as it is a very strict prison and usually he would not be allowed to send letters out to ask for funding. However, he was allowed to write letters because Andy gained the trust of the warden. The warden knew there was almost no chance of getting funding but let him write and send the letters anyway. Andy then went on to write a letter every week for 6 years without a single reply until they finally funded the library just so Andy would stop writing letters. This shows how Andy’s persistence and ambition really did pay off.

Paragraph 4 – The Martian 

In The Martian the form of ambition is very similar to that in Shawshank Redemption. Both Andy and The Martians main character Mark Watney are doing what they can to save there lives. Andy’s by escaping prison and getting a proper life and Mark Watney is literally trying to save his life. Mark is an astronaut who is on the Ares 3 mission to mars. He travels in a spaceship called the Hermes with his crew to gather research and other information from Mars. However when they are there a massive storm comes earlier that expected and they have to abort the mission and leave the planet. When Mark and his crew were walking through the storm to get to their ship Mark was impaled by a piece of the ship and was presumed dead so he was left behind by his crew. This is not the case as Mark Watney survived. Ambition is shown by him in many cases, one of which is when he realises that he will not have enough food to last him. He then makes a plan to plant potatoes inside the HAB which is the artificial habitat which he is staying. Mars however doesn’t have water and moisture, plus Mark does not want to use his valuable water to help the potatoes grow. instead he finds a way to extract the hydrogen from the rocket fuel and uses oxygen and the hydrogen to make water. Well it created moisture in the room of potatoes so that they could then grow. Although, this process was very dangerous and he ended up blowing up the hab which meant he had to start from scratch. He then decided to try make it again which showed his ambition. Even though it did blow up the first time he decided to try again even though it might kill him. It worked the 2nd time luckeley and that gave him the food he needed to last a lot longer. Later on in the movie he said

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… Everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work”

This quote from the film shows us what his mindset was like. He was ambitious and wasn’t going to give up. As he said “accept that, or get to work” Mark Watney pushed the limits which was forced onto him by the ambition because of this life or death situation. He pushed the limits in different ways for example, taking the rover furter that it should, creating contraptions which might explode on him or having to rip of important pieces of his ship to remove weight. He even popped a hole in is suit to try prepell himself though space to then reunite with his crew. His ambition for this did not really take over his mind though like it did in Macbeth. Mark Watney was still always having a laugh like before popping a hole in his suit he said 

 “I admit it’s fatally dangerous, but I’d get to fly around like Iron Man.”

Ambition is shown in the Martian several times by Mark Watney and it shows how he had to make ambitious choices which was the thing that got Mark home safely.


The movies and play I have discussed show us that if we are ambitious we can achieve many things. Even if we have setbacks, disadvantages or problems which may seem like they are preventing us from achieving our goal there may be other ways of getting there. Our ambition in our stive to get something or do something. As said in Gattaca

“There is no gene for the human spirit”.

It doesn’t matter what who you are, if you have the spirit and the ambition you can achieve many things. 

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