Ambitions and Power in Macbeth and Animal Farm

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Does power lead to corruption? Yes, it most definitely does. It is some texts, such as Macbeth by Shakespeare and Animal Farm by George Orwell, it is shown to be true by the ‘rulers’ greed, ambition, and careless actions with this power. Power becomes a dream for people, then gets into the wrong people’s hands, and ends in war or revolution, and is some cases, extinction. Power is just the definition of conflict and problems.

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In the literature, Macbeth, the main character, Macbeth is initially thought of as a brave warrior. But as the story progresses, we see him as weak, but very greedy. He wanted all the power that King Duncan had, under any circumstances. Macbeth killed for this position; he killed the person who thought of him as a trusty friend. “Ere the bat hath flown his cloistered flight, ere to black Hecate’s summons the shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums, hath rung night’s yawning peal, there shall be done a deed of dreadful note … And with thy bloody and invisible hand, cancel and tear to pieces that great bond which keeps me pale.” (Shakespeare Act 3 Scene 2). Macbeth murdered anybody who got in the way of his power, such as Banquo. Banquo was perceived as a threat to Macbeth’s Crown. 

However, Macbeth after all these murders had a big conscience that eventually overwhelmed him. And his greed decreased. Another greedy ruler was Napoleon, from Animal farm. Napoleon and former co-ruler, Snowball, created their own civilization, after rebelling against their former owner, Mr. Jones. Napoleon and Snowball were in a competition for this power, Napoleon was way more ruthless that Snowball. Napoleon also made sure no one got in the way of his throne. For example, “Four young porkers in the front row uttered shrill squeals of disapproval … But suddenly the dogs sitting round Napoleon let out deep menacing growls, and the pigs fell silent and sat down again.” (Orwell 54-55). Napoleon just like Macbeth stopped anybody in the way of his power. Snowball, his opponent, had ideas for the society that the citizens agreed on, and he didn’t like the support he was getting, so he chased him away. In this example his greediness nourished intimidation. He didn’t care for how his citizens felt as long as he had all the authority. These rulers were greedy and selfish, they took any risks necessary to maintain control. They’re greediness was also influenced by their heavy ambition.

Both of these power-hungry rulers have Strong ambition. But this ambition was the reason for both of their downfalls. Macbeth’s ambition led him to become a bloody dictator. Ambition is the worst and most dangerous quality of Macbeth. As we may all know, it led him to make very vicious and spiteful decisions. His ambition grew more and more from his wife, Lady Macbeth. She believed he was not capable enough to complete menacing tasks, so she made him snap out of it. For example, “Was the hope drunk wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since and wakes it now, to look so green and pale at what it did so freely? From this time Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valor as thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting “I dare not” wait upon ‘I would,’ like the poor cat i’ th’ adage?”. Lady Macbeth doubted Macbeth’s courage, which builds him up. He now had so much ambition to kill Duncan. Then later on in the story, he had a lot of ambition to kill anybody who suspected him, got in his way, and/or challenged him. Although, as I said his ambition later reduced after a while.

Now, Napoleon always had lots of ambition. Ambition to take over, to create his own civilization, and to become an iconic leader. His ambition caused him to kill other animals, become ruthless, and literally become Mr. Jones. He showed how equality can never be achieved. For example, “In the old days there had often been scenes of bloodshed equally terrible, but it seemed to all of them that it was far worse now that it was happening among themselves.”(Orwell ). Napoleon slaughtered all animals who had been keeping in touch with snowball or other didn’t follow his orders. By now, Napoleon’s ambition for power has gotten out of control. Obviously, he isn’t afraid to eliminate any obstacles under any circumstances. He deeply strived for this power. As so did Macbeth. At this point, the greediness and ambition caused both of them to make lots of careless actions, that in the end weren’t good for their selves nor their society.

Getting caught up in the murders, brutality, and controlling a society has made both Macbeth and Napoleon to make some really dumb actions. Not even mistakes because they knew what they were doing and knew some effects it could have. But they never expected their actions to turn into corruption for their society. Macbeth made careless actions like killing Duncan and Banquo. But he also made a not so smart action of rising up to a duel against Macduff. To support, “I will not yield, to kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet, and to be baited with the rabble’s curse. Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane, and thou opposed, being of no woman born, yet I will try the last. Before my body I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’”(Shakespeare Act 5 Scene 8). 

Macbeth still took up the challenge to fight Macduff even though he knew that he couldn’t be killed. Macbeth knew he would be defeated but his ambition took over. He had a conscience, but he ignored it. This led him to be murdered and Malcom to be king. Napoleon also mad careless actions, which changed the whole dynamic of their civilization. He totally disregarded he flow of the society and what the other animal were used to. For example, “It ran: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”( Orwell ). Napoleon vanishing all the 7 commandments and leaving just this 1, is implying he is superior over everybody. He no longer cares about being equal to one another, he never did. All he cared about was his power and not the people, just like Macbeth. They made decisions that benefited themselves. As long as they have all the authority, they couldn’t care less about how their citizens were.

All in all, Macbeth by Shakespeare and Animal Farm by George Well, focused tyrant leaders who were no good for society, that eventually led in corruption. Their power lead to corruption. Their greediness, ambition, and careless actions led to their downfall. The power was in their hands and they failed because of their pride. In both of these literatures, their citizens voices weren’t heard. The rulers were the only and could only be the outspoken. Both the stories ended in each rulers dreams not reached, and a corrupt government. 

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Ambitions And Power In Macbeth And Animal Farm. (2021, Dec 28). Retrieved August 16, 2022 , from
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