What is the theme of the story "The Ambitious Guest"?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the themes in this story is ambition, in conjunction with how it shapes our destiny.  This story is an expression of how choices shape our lives and whether an individual has any control over his ultimate destiny. 

The story illustrates, however, by embracing an ambitious approach, you ultimately take yourself out of the safe, secure zone and are exposed to danger.  Clearly, when the family decides to leave the relative safety of the cottage to flee the sounds of the tumbling mountain, they are acting out of character.  Were they influenced by the talk of the ambitious guest?  Or would they have chosen to leave if he had never shown up?

What I find interesting about this story, when I read it, I felt like the family is running from the cottage not so much from the storm, but from the lives they have lived within its walls.  And this, in my opinion is because of the ambitious guest and his talk of dreams with great excitement.

"As they are caught up in his enthusiasm, several family members express very personal feelings about their lives. The father would like a better property and a better title (Squire)—in short, a station in life that would command the respect of his community. One of the younger children, excited by all this discussion of life's possibilities."