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Ambition: It’s Easy to Dream a Dream, but Much Harder to Live it Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. It all depends on the principles which direct them. ” From this quote, one can see that great ambition is crucial to experience success whether it is achieved in an honest fashion, or a morally questionable one. In the novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (ADK) and the movie School Ties (ST) a strong sense of ambition is one of the driving topics for the plot and the development of many characters.
For example, one can see that Duddy will do anything to achieve his dreams, even if that means betraying his friends or taking part in illegal activities. Although the amount of ambition in both works is very prominent, too much ambition can prove to be detrimental in many ways, and it is evident that ambition proves to be more severe in ST because many characters struggled with common morals and were affected by the mental destruction that comes along with too much ambition.
In ADK, Duddy proves to be too ambitious for his own good throughout the entire novel, as he cares too much about owning land rather than following morals or obeying the law. Just one of these examples would be when Duddy sells contraband comic books. “American comic books were beginning to trickle into the city again, and so Duddy was attracted by this new line.
.. Barney was picked up by the police and fined. Duddy, unfortunately was caught with a large stack on hand.
He took fright and threw them in the furnace. ” (Richler 56). This quote shows evidence that Duddy began his overly-ambitious ways at a young age by selling pornographic comic books. Moreover, this proves Napoleon Bonaparte’s quote in that those who are ambitious are willing to commit very good or very bad acts in order to succeed. Similarly, morals are lost in ST as well when Dillon cheats on his history exam, and tells the class that it was David instead of him. “It wasn’t Connors. …] I should have told the truth yesterday. I know who cheated. It was Green. ” (Darryl Ponicsan, Dick Wolf). At this point in the movie, it portrays Dillon as the antagonist as he lied to his friends, and cheated on his exam. Since Dillon did this in order to get into Princeton, one can conclude that he did this because he felt like he had no other options. Thus leading the reader to believe that Dillon did this out of ambition, but he let his morals get the better of him.
In this way, ADK is extremely similar to ST in the sense that characters from each text betrayed their friends, and cheated in one way or another in order to succeed. Secondly, Duddy Kravitz can be seen struggling with the mental exhaustion that comes with having too much ambition throughout the novel. An example of this is when he has a small breakdown just after he loses all of his money by playing roulette. “Duddy was seized by an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
He rolled over in the grass, biting his arm to muffle the noise… Three times he stopped, his laughter immense. The thought of them searching for him all through the night…” (Richler 90. ) This quote gives evidence that Duddy was so blinded by his ambition that he has fits of laughter over the fact that he lost all of his money. Moreover, this proves that Duddy’s mental health has diminished because he doesn’t care about the fact that the employees at the lodge are sincerely worried as they search for him.
Similarly, mental destruction due to ambition is portrayed in ST as well during the scene where McGivern is so upset about his teacher insulting him in French class that he sneaks into the classroom that night in order to repeat his recitation to himself while his friends are looking for him around campus. McGivern is so distraught about this presentation that he ends up getting taken away in an ambulance at the end of the night. Although the way that mental destruction is shown in ST is slightly different than in ADK, they are very alike because both mental breakdowns by the characters are brought on through their ambitions to succeed.
In conclusion, mental destruction and the loss of morals from being too ambitious are evident in both novels, but it is more severe in ST because multiple characters suffer in different ways, whereas Duddy is the only character that struggles significantly with his ambitions. Ultimately, being ambitious is a great trait because it builds character, but becoming too ambitious can harm an individual in more ways than one. So, how ambitious are you?
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