Positive and negative results of an ambition

Positive and negative results of an ambition


Ambition seems to be a critical aspect as it acts as the driving force for determination, and the effort applied by an individual towards the attainment of a certain goal. Ambition may be both positive and negative, in the sense that an individual may possess a beneficial or destructive ambition, depending on their welfare and state of mind. Triggering people or threats imposed on an individual may overtime alter their ambition from positive to negative or the vice versa. It is therefore essential to evaluate how an ambition may predominantly produce positive and negative results by analyzing various articles and Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth.”

Ambition is well evident in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Lady Macbeth describes her husband’s ambition, which is positive. “Thou wouldst be great, art not without ambition, but without ambition, the illness should attend to it.” Through this, Macbeth is described and portrayed to be human and kind. However, Lady Macbeth triggers Macbeth which causes a significant change in ambition “I have no spur, to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition which overleaps itself and falls on the other”(Booth, Stephen, and William, pg. 14). This is Macbeth’s ambition when he is preparing to kill Duncan, which is, therefore, a negative result of ambition. This ambition tends to be destructive and negative as it plays a vital part in Macbeth’s death in the end. In act 2, Ross describes clearly the emptiness of a destructive ambition. “Thriftless ambition that wilt raving up, thine own life’s means.” This statement by Ross shows the negative results of ambition, as it is depicted as a significant source of death in the play.

Neel Burton’s “the psychology and philosophy of ambition” also demonstrates the theme of ambition. The book defines ambition as the persistence and zeal towards obtaining or achieving a prior postulated goal or objective. The article compares the worth of a person to his ambitions both in the long-run and in the short run (Burton, pg. 6). This is, therefore, an indication that people should bear ambitions, as an ambition works as a driving force towards the achievement of specific objective over time.

Despite the fact that some people pursue their ambitions for the attainment of their set goals, there are certain motivators for the attainment of an ambition, which includes respect, money, popularity or even power. Although ambition almost bears the same definition as hope, the two are different as ambition is more precise. While the opposite of hope is fear, lack of ambition is the inverse of ambition, which then portrays a major difference between the two aspects. Although ambition is compared to greed, or the surpassed zeal to obtain a certain goal, ambition is described as positive as it enables people to prosper. This is especially because people who bear certain ambitions are unstoppable.

Traditions also determine how communities view ambitions and therefore anticipate results. Eastern communities view ambition as generally bad, misleading and evil as it enhances the extent to which individuals put much value to worldly things. However, western society views ambition as a positive thing that contributes significantly towards overtime success and prosperity. The western community associate ambitions with positive results while Eastern society associate ambitions with increased worldly desires and hence negative results.

Salvador Dali asserts that ambition is the major source of intelligence, and hence people should bear ambition in order to gain increased knowledge (Dalí, pg. 22). By comparing lack of ambition to a “bird without wings,” the article asserts that ambition is the driving force towards overtime success. Although individuals may have significantly lesser ambitions, achieving the anticipated results generates increased joy. The rate of success according to this article depends heavily on ambition rather than the mental capacity or how smart a person is.

Helen Keller, in her article, asserts that a character is developed through increased pain and suffering, rather than ease and relaxation (Nielsen, pg. 32). An individual must, therefore, bear ambitions for success and full development of a character. Ambition seems to be a way of generating increased aspiration and zeal for success. Ambitions therefore according to this article bears positive results. Niccolo Machiavelli postulates that men aim at achieving one vision at a certain term. The achievement of one ambition increases the zeal to achieve the others. This indicates that ambitions are a substantial way to success. Ambitions are therefore positive. Napoleon Bonaparte relates great characters to great ambitions and hence asserting on the positive results of having an ambition (Asprey, pg. 13).


From the evidence, ambition may be positive or destructive. Ambitions tend to be the driving forces for both regret and success. William Shakespeare describes ambitions as a vice while other articles from different authors view ambition as a generally important aspect of success and prosperity. Ambition is also viewed as an important cause of death as well as a source of knowledge. People should, therefore, evaluate their ambitions for avoiding negative repercussions.


Work cited

Asprey, Robert. The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. Hachette UK, 2008.

Booth, Stephen, and William Shakespeare. King Lear, Macbeth, Indefinition, and Tragedy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.

Burton, Neel L. Hide and seek The psychology of self-deception. Kent, UK: Acheron Press, 2012.

Dalí, Salvador. The secret life of Salvador Dali. Courier Corporation, 2013.

Machiavelli, Niccolò. The letters of Machiavelli. University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Nielsen, Kim E. The radical lives of Helen Keller. NYU press, 2009.