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Compare the ways in which ambition is presented in Act 1 of ‘Macbeth’ and chapter 5 of ‘Frankenstein’. Pay close attention to the writers presentation of ideas and relate your thoughts to the social and historical content of the texts. Ambition is a passion for something so strong that weaker individuals will become utterly seized by it. We see this in both protagonists in the two texts. Macbeth is first shown as a noble warrior. Shakespeare uses the language of the other characters such as ‘the captain,’ to underline and suggest what had happened and what will happen throughout the plot.
Shakespeare uses the phrase “But all’s too weak/ for brave Macbeth” to explain Macbeth’s capability in the beginning of act one. Although we soon learn that he leaves his nobility behind as his selfish ambition takes control of mind. The words have been chosen to make the phrase dramatic and shocking to the audience, as Macbeth has just slaughtered “Macdonwald”, Shakespeare uses punctuation to split up the sentences as Shelly also does when ‘Frankenstein’ is terrified that the monster could be lurking in his home in Inglestad when he returns with ‘Clerval’.
The novelist also does this when Frankenstein becomes manic due to his relief at seeing ‘Clerval’ and the fear of his creation. This technique is used so that the texts are read or performed in a disjointed manner which creates a sense of anticipation. Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’ as an outlet of her experiences throughout her previous years and to express her feelings of grief, anxiety and shock from her childhood.
When Mary Shelley was younger, her own ambition was to have a child to love and care for. This ambition and hope was shot down when her baby died soon after its birth.
This could be the inspiration that she used for the creation and the unkind response given by the world to it. We learn much about the protagonist victor Frankenstein and his utterly selfish ambition throughout chapter five. This is the climax of his scientific obsession, he finally manages to bring the creature to life after his “Candle was nearly burnt out”. Shelley uses this metaphor to indicate that Frankenstein only had a small amount of his candle left to work by, and that he was close to giving up, and that his ‘Candle of hope’ was nearly extinguished.
We can see parallels between Macbeth and Frankenstein where in the last act of the play, Macbeth describes how he sees life and death. He uses the words “Out out brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow…” to display his thoughts about the light or flame of life and how he now wishes he could blow out his candle so that he may die. A candle will flicker, shrink and grow through time and these uses of the word make me imagine the ups and downs of our lives until finally, they weaken and extinguish. The authors use the idea of a candle as it is often used as a symbol of light, hope and expectation.
Frankenstein describes his own ambition to create the monster when he tells us that he had “desired it with an ardour”. Shelley uses “desired” to make us realise that Victor Frankenstein has wanted this success for a long time and that he has dreamed about it, the word “ardour” is in this phrase as it makes one think of a deep and intense passion of love in which Frankenstein is referring to the monster by. He contradicts this by using it in the past tense to explain that he regrets his decision to bring life to the monster. Frankenstein says that his aspiration “…far exceeded moderation” when talking about his hope to create a life.
Shelley has used the words “exceeded moderation” to display the extent to which Victor Frankenstein had wished to succeed as a scientist. Although Victor Frankenstein, automatically rejects the creation when he views its appearance. This tells me that Frankenstein is very shallow and intolerant as he does not give the “utterly benevolent,” creature a moment to be understood or loved. Shelley uses this expression to compare the Frankenstein’s creation a new born babe as babies are completely innocent when they are first born.
Shakespeare also introduces the idea of children and violent acts with Lady Macbeth when she tells us about the horrifying moves she is willing to take to have the opportunity to become Queen. Lady Macbeth says the expression “…dash’d the brains out” to turn the beautiful and natural act of breastfeeding into something monstrous, she is comparing killing her “babe” while breastfeeding to killing King Duncan. The word “dash’d” has been used to emphasise the speed at which she would kill her child and the Shakespeare has used punctuation to create this effect.
I believe that this is where Frankenstein begins to fall due to his ambition and, in contrast to Macbeth, he dies not realise that what he is doing and has done is wrong. Macbeth describes his hopes for King Duncan’s death as “black and deep desires”, which tells me that Macbeth recognises the immorality of his wishes. Frankenstein and Macbeth both soon become arrogant and totally selfish. Macbeth also turns evil and bloodthirsty. Shelley and Shakespeare both warn their audience of the potential threats and consequences of trying to play the role of God by creating, destroying or changing life.
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