AMBITION, MADNESS, AND SOCIAL CLIMBING IN FILTH AND MACBETH
Can horrific ethical choices catapult one into a descent into madness? Can the psychological consequences of actions born solely of greed and ambition create a state of insanity? Two recent popular film adaptations of literary works provide opportunities to examine these questions: Filth (2013), starring James McAvoy, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh; and Macbeth (2015), starring Michael Fassbender, from Shakespeare’s play. Both protagonists engage in secret violence to manipulate career promotions, a literary device that kicks off their descents into madness. They pursue their greed and ambition, following a downward path into an underworld of hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, and underlying guilt. The resulting fracturing of their psyches brings forth imaginary dopplegangers that manifest as an alter ego and ghost, respectively. Each character’s death severs his tie with his projected double; in fact, in both deaths, a physical severing of the head from the body occurs that throws into relief their final separation from their delusions.