Without society we don’t have some form of structure to keep us from overcoming selfishness. In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley and Macbeth by William Shakespeare, the obsession for power and knowledge is well brought forth in the characters of the text. In the beginning Macbeth and Victor Frankenstein are well respected. Then, the two characters remove themselves from society causing their great obsessions to over-power them, in which they lose control. Macbeth and Frankenstein lose their original reputations when they remove themselves from society and their own identities become consumed by an obsession for power.
Both Macbeth and Frankenstein are originally well-respected members of their community. Macbeth is a loyal friend to the king and was known for his bravery in fighting. “Conduct me to mine host. We love him highly/ and shall continue our graces towards him. ”(I. V. 30-31). Duncan is saying how he thinks very highly of Macbeth and favors him, proving Macbeth’s honorable reputation. Victor Frankenstein is a well-known man for his knowledge and understanding in the sciences. “Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember. (Shelley 31).
Frankenstein’s reputation was based on his fascination for science and his commitment to it. Macbeth and Victor Frankenstein were both well known in their communities and highly thought of. Soon both Macbeth and Victor lose the connection they have to society by removing themselves from it so they can focus on their individual goals. Macbeth unconsciously slowly starts to remove himself from society when his desire for ultimate power takes over as he decides he will stop at nothing to be in control and become king. “The prince of Cumberland! That is a step/on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,/for in my way it lies.
Stars, hide your fires;/let not light see my black and deep desires. /The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be/Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. ”(I. IV. 50-55). Macbeth is at the point where he starts to remove himself from society and is becoming consumed with his obsession of being king and having power. Frankenstein’s love for science turns into an obsession when he gets to the point where he attempts to play god. “After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. (Shelley 30). Frankenstein has cut himself out from the world and is consumed in his obsession to give life. Macbeth and Frankenstein seclude themselves from society because of Macbeth’s obsession for power and to have control, and Frankenstein’s obsession to be god and create life to prove his knowledge. Both Macbeth and Frankenstein eventually lose their identities in society when they give in to their obsessions for power. Macbeth loses his identity after giving into his obsession of being king and killing Duncan and Banquo. “Prithee, see there! Behold!
Look! Lo! How say you? /Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too. /if charnel houses and our graves must send/those that we bury back, our monuments/shall be the maws of kites. ”(III. iv. 72-76). Macbeth has officially lost his identity when he sees Banquo’s ghost and starts acting crazy infront of his guests and they are starting to question if Macbeth is guilty for Duncan’s death. Victor Frankenstein has a loss of identity when he becomes a mad scientist and digs up graves for corpse, sew pieces together, and then brought the results to life. )We can see how a person who lives within a society, interacting on a regular basis with others, tends to follow and respect the standards, morals and cultural traditions of their society. When a person removes themselves from society because they have become obsessed with singular or private pursuit, and that obsession is greater than everything and everyone else in their life, they can become very selfish, self-centered, self-serving, and in the case of Frankenstein and Macbeth, evil.
In the case of Frankenstein, he came from a loving family, who supported him and was a good man until he became obsessed with creating a monster and isolated himself from his family and others as he built his monster. In the end Frankenstein realizes that he has disrupted the balance of nature and confesses to it: “How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to be greater than his nature will allow. ”(Shelley, 87).
In the case of Macbeth, he had a pretty good life. He had a good marriage and was good friends with the king, until he became obsessed with being king and ruined his marriage and his life. Macbeth and Frankenstein obsession for power results in the removal from society, which makes them lose their original reputation. The two characters go from having a good reputation in society to being consumed by their obsessions for power of control and power of giving and creating life. This caused Macbeth and Frankenstein to lose their identities.