An individual’s identity and character is ultimately shaped by the ambitions and goals that are developed throughout their lifetime. Actually, these particular ambitions and goals have the ability to influence the behaviours of many other individuals too. Meriam-webster.com defines ambition as ” An ardent desire for rank, fame, or power.
” It can be argued that too much ambition has the potential to be a negative attribute. Putting such an accentuation on personal ambition can result in an individual to push their friends and family away just so they can achieve their end goal. Inside the vast majority, unhappiness is a typical feeling and in extreme outcomes, it prompts death. In William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, It is clear to see that when even the strongest characters place power above everything else they will eventually crumble because they become so altered by the environment that they are living in. This results in ambitions and goals that will radically impact themselves and others around them. In this modern drama, the play takes place in Denmark during the late medieval time period. This was a time of war which explains why the characters are greedy and power hungry.
The characters in this play hold a grudge like no other. Claudius is full of ambition and commits horrible acts against his family in order to gain the power he believes he deserves. In act 1.5, Hamlet sees his father’s ghost and comes to the conclusion that he was murdered by his father’s own brother in his sleep.
This shows that Claudius ambitions to gain power led him to not only poison his own brother, but to steal his wife from him as well. Claudius was sneaky and took complete and full advantage of how Hamlet’s mind state was affected after the loss of his father, in order to gain power and more. Hamlet’s veins were filled with revenge which led him to drown himself in his own ambitions, like Claudius did. Hamlet ultimately ends up going insane and pushes away all of his loved ones in order for his plan to work. Ophelia is one of the main victims in Hamlets harmful actions to push her away.
In act 3.1 Hamlet and Ophelia get into an intense argument: “Get thee to a nunnery; why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, buy yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, believe none of us; go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s your father?” (3.1.121-31) Hamlet has so much power in his ambitions that he doesn’t know how to properly deal with so he ultimately ends up hurting the one person that would do anything for him. This shows that people will do anything and everything in order to get what they want, even if it means hurting the ones that they love.
Individuals crave power and succumb to insidious acts of envy in their endeavor to obtain control. Vengeance is to inflict suffering towards someone who has caused suffering towards you. To forgive is to carry on.
Individuals experience considerable difficulties forgiving and due to this they look for revenge. Claudius felt threatened by Hamlet, not only for his crown but for his life. The greed caught up to Claudius as he was adapting to his surrounding as King and he couldn’t risk having that status taken from him because all that hard work to get there would have been for nothing. He would be left brotherless, wireless and lonely. This motivated Claudius to have his own nephew to be exiled and executed in secrecy. “Yet must not we put the strong law on him. He’s lov’d of the distracted multitude.
” Hamlet was greatly respected by the people, so if the people found out that this new king was executed Hamlet, this would also put everything at risk for him. However, don’t forget that Hamlet is still viciously seeking revenge to avenge his father’s death. Hamlet’s ambitions became overbearing as he also had his old friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern killed for their treachery. As readers, we see that there is a common theme here. Punishment for even a sliver of betrayal always resulted in death. In life, there are circumstances that can make a person happy and unhappy.
Most of these circumstances are based off our own individual thoughts and behaviours. In Hamlet, it is ironic to see that even though Claudius did everything he could to obtain power and he has everything he could have ever wanted, he is the unhappiest character in the play. Ultimately, the guilt started to deteriorate at his mind as he knows he did something that he shouldn’t have. Claudius’s guilt is shown through when he says “…Oh, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t- A brother’s murder! Pray can I not, Though inclination be as sharp as will, My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent, And like a man to double business bound, I stand in pause where I shall first with brother’s blood,..
” (3.4.36-44) Claudius shows that an individual’s ambitions can definitely get the best of them as he is one of the least expected characters that should have felt unhappy. The fact that Claudius was always living in his brothers shadow led him to actually end his brothers life, but left Claudius feeling unsatisfied and overwhelmed with guilt.
Claudius placing his personal ambition above everything else was what consequently led to his death. Ambition , however too much of anything is never good, and in the case of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it ends up being deadly. The ambitions of Claudius to get to the top of the social ladder ended being detrimental to the royal family which brought him and everyone else down with him. Hamlet shows us that when a person becomes overly ambitious, their persona can go from good to corrupt.
When an individual has ambition they will oftentimes hurt themselves and become oblivious of the negative impacts that they leave on everyone else.