彼は成功したかった。

English Translation

He wanted to succeed.

Is there a rule for when you use たく instead of たがる when describing what other people want?
I.e. why is this sentence not 「彼は成功したがっていた」?

As explained on a related sentence discussion, したがる is closer to “eager to do X”. If you replace したい (want to do) with したがる, it sounds like he was “desperately eager to be successful” or “he failed many times, he never gave up to be successful.” The speaker (observer) views his behavior (slightly) negative.

したがる can be interpreted as “despite bad outlook or despite other’s reasonable advice, a person cannot control his eagerness” = “a person can’t help but X”.

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