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Tragic Ambitions In The Play Macbeth And Film I, Tonya

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Greedy for the crown, a displeased man, who is extremely susceptible to pressure, loses his morality. Several centuries later, a girl, who from an early age learned to transfer her rage into a fearsome ambition, is propelled into taking part in an unthinkable crime.

The tragedy, Macbeth is perhaps one of William Shakespeare’s most terrific and popular plays. Written sometime early in the 17th century the play exaggerates the destructive and emotional effects of unchecked ambition, which then is driven by guilt. A reluctant Scottish general named Macbeth, receives a demanding prophecy from a trio of witches and is expressed that he will take the throne for himself and become king of Scotland. Filled with ambition and impelled by action, the impulsive Macbeth murders king Duncan in spite of his manipulative wife lady Macbeth, he is then racked with impulsive fear. I, Tonya, also features a protagonist fuelled by ambition. In the 2017 film, figure skater Tonya Harding finds herself struggling to break free from her impoverished Oregon origins. Constantly exploited by her controlling mother and abusive husband, Tonya wanted new ways to distinguish herself. Her talent on the ice should have brought with it international glory, but due to her unwitting implications in the 1994 attack on her associated skater Nancy Kerrigan, she became embroiled in controversy.

Both Macbeth and I, Tonya invite the audience to explore two seemingly different characters that act irrationally to get what they want. Though Shakespeare effectively explores multiple key themes throughout the play, he particularly represents unchecked ambitions and its consequences. Similarly, I, Tonya is an unnerving story of thwarted ambition. In its telling of a fascinating of a real life story about the against the odds experiences of a remarkable women, I, Tonya has much in common in Macbeth. Both feature thwarted ambition, aggressive relatives, and gender specific persecution.

Minor punishment and crime allowed Macbeth to erupt his violence, if violence were to be shown in this time and place many more would be convicted. Macbeth has been interpreted in many ways throughout the centuries. Productions have moved beyond Shakespeare’s Jacobean world to direct feelings, ideas and social climate of its own specific culture. In Macbeth, Shakespeare imitates power as a divine right where one should not meddle, lest tragedy arises. Such a representation clearly reflects the socio-culture views of the Elizabethan era; he lets his ambition disturb the natural order or ‘chain of being.’ “Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself” “- Macbeth has avoided this path as once being rewarded thane of Cawdor he believes he can now become king. With regards to power, in Macbeth, the audience can successfully predict that Macbeth’s taking of the Scottish throne will eventually lead to his destruction. The destruction is created when ambition becomes unchecked by moral constraints, discovers its most powerful expression in the play’s two main characters. Macbeth was persuaded to commit multiple evil deeds, then develops the desire for power and advancement. Viewers are exposed to the persuasive and controversial techniques; Lady Macbeth utilises to manipulate Macbeth to commit murder:

“and live a coward in thine own esteem” (Shakespeare, year of book).

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“you would be so much more the man”.

Similarly, Tonya Harding, in the film I, Tonya, is motivated to rise above her abusive mother and her deceitful husband. Whilst seeking new ways to distinguish herself on the ice, her mother proves that her merciless cruelty is intended to branch Tonya to greatness – “you skated like a graceless bull dyke”. In Tonya’s case it can be suggested that her ambition and opinions were tinged with intentions aimed at succeeding at nearly any cost. Tonya’s need for acceptance and recognition were a controlling motivation for her figure skating competitions, her upbringing with her abusive mother definitely resulted in her fierce drive for success.

Macbeth and I, Tonya are not morally virtuous. The film shows Tonya challenging the archetype of the innocent female victim. She is aggressive and very complicated. Having grown up socially remote without necessities, her abusive mother is shown to push Tonya at any extent, “Lavona Golden: I made you a champion knowing you’d hate me for it. That’s the sacrifice a mother makes.” Tonya forced to act Irrationally and train for numerous hours on the ice every day, Tonya responds to her husband’s abuse by fighting back. Her behaviour is so visible that the creation of a life time spent without emotional support, remains desperately empathetic even if she isn’t the most trusted narrators. Tonya’s voice is shown to be naïve, the film has a clever way of ensuring that Tonya maintains the correct tone while she was sadly mistreated- She not once saw herself as the victim with the camera and hearing forcing the viewer into the position of both observer and confidant. The moments where Tonya is staring into the camera lens are virtually powerful as it’s impossible not to share her sense of frustration and in justice. Macbeth knows he shouldn’t commit evil deeds but does anyway, he struggles with his integrity and believes that if he keeps murdering he will become desensitized to the pain and guilt. The overwhelming desires of Macbeth and his repercussions are brightly enhanced through the use of numerous expressive literacy techniques, and the paranormal aspects are a common incurrence and act as a caution for the audience.

The overwhelming desires of Macbeth and his repercussions are brightly enhanced through the use of numerous expressive literacy techniques, and the paranormal aspects are a common incurrence and act as a caution for the audience. In Macbeths famous monolog he uses metaphorical imagery to direct the inner conflict he is currently experiencing.

Every action always has a reaction; this is displayed in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In the play, Lady Macbeth is the ambition that lead her husband to grave error. The murder resulted in a series of consequences for the characters, these actions then lead to negative repercussions. Macbeth after his crime was haunted by extreme guilt and became habituated to death and killing, this then resulted in his own demise. Lady Macbeth uses mockery and convinced her husband into killing king Duncan, even when her adversities were brought up by herself, she suffered from guilt and ultimately lead to her own death. Gillepsie film I, Tonya, explores and exhibited an unwelcoming effect that was not self-inflicted. Harding suffered tremendous consequence and experiences a downfall in her career, she herself believed that she had nothing to do with the situation. Harding was found guilty to delaying the investigation on the well-known Kerrigan attack, the given evidence told Harding that she had now been removed from her gold in the 1994 U.S. figure skating finals. She was also excluded from competing in the U.S championships for the rest of her life.

Shakespeare and Gillepsie ultimately wrote stories of how unchecked ambition can lead to tragedy. Ambition can give us a purpose in life for what we believe in, but when such determination turns a blind eye to everything that could possibly accompany it we run a great risk of setting ourselves up for failure.


  1. I, Tonya reveals the dual-edged sword of ambition – Brent merchant pernand and the pad
  3. sumitted to Christ chapel academy, sumitted by university of Queensland

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