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Theme Of Ambition In Frankenstein

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The Bible states that God created the perfect angel Lucifer with the intent that Lucifer would remain perfect, so how come he was cast out of Heaven? When Lucifer realized his position in Heaven over the other angels, having beauty, intelligence, and power, he began to desire God’s glory. This pride caused him to strive for ambitions that God would not allow him to achieve, and God was forced to kick Lucifer out of Heaven. In the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley creates a parallel between Satan and Victor Frankenstein, who is so proud of his intelligence that he believes he is capable of creating life equal to that of man. Frankenstein shows that he desires God’s glory by trying to perform the powers of God. Frankenstein’s desire to be like God causes him to pursue an ambition to create life, but when he does not meet his own expectations, he abandons the creature, which inevitably forces Victor to sacrifice his humanity.

Frankenstein’s aspirations to control nature along with his selfishness cause him to reject his creation and deny responsibility for the creature. When Victor gives his creature life, he recognizes how disgusting the creature is. He laments that he “worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body”, but now that he has succeeded “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled [his] heart” (Shelley 55). Victor reveals that his “sole purpose” for creating the creature was not out of a desire for relationship or love, but rather to prove that he can perform actions equal to those of God. When the final product does not meet his expectations, he realizes that his ambitions did not match his abilities and that he has evoked a father-like responsibility for his monstrosity, which he ultimately denies. When the monster kills Frankenstein’s brother and frames Justine, Victor attends Justine’s trial and expresses, “My own agitation and anguish was extreme during the whole trial. I believed her innocence; I knew it. Could the demon who had (I did not for a minute doubt) murdered my brother also in his hellish sport have betrayed the innocent to death and ignominy?” (83). Frankenstein experiences “anguish” through the guilt stemming from the knowledge that Justine does not deserve the death penalty. However, Victor chooses to blame the creature for her death, even though he has the choice to tell the truth to the court and save her. Through Victor’s silence in the courtroom, it is evident that his selfishness gets in the way of reason and he is prone to dodge responsibility for the consequences of his own creation. Upon the first encounter between Frankenstein and the creature since the creature’s birth, Victor addresses his creature with “Begone, vile insect!” and then threatens to “trample [the creature] to dust” and hopes “with the extinction of [his] miserable existence, [to] restore those victims whom [he] have so diabolically murdered” (98). Victor has given the creature his “miserable existence”, yet thinks he has the right to take it away. This shows that Victor believes he can play God with his creature without suffering any consequences. Victor defiles the creature as anything close to human when he refers to the creature as an “insect”. This dehumanization is another way that Victor reveals he does not see value in the creature’s life and does not understand that he did not fulfill the responsibilities of a father for the creature because his selfishness makes him blind to the creature’s perspective.

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The manipulation of nature and rejection of his creature ultimately causes Frankenstein’s isolation and loss of humanity. The creature explains to Captain Walton his rationale for murdering Victor’s friends and family by asking, “Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me? Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his door with contumely?”. Overall, society views him as “an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (221). The creature feels that all of society is subject to reject him based on what Frankenstein has created him to be: A disgusting manipulation of nature. Since Victor is responsible for making the creature revolting, he is also responsible for society’s rejection of the creature. Since the creature’s rejection inevitably causes him to murder Victor’s friends and family, Victor is ultimately responsible for their deaths. When Frankenstein is being tried for murder, the court reveals the body to Victor to which he exclaims, “Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of life? Two I have already destroyed...I called myself the murderer of William, of Justine, and of Clerval” (177). Once presented with the body of his best friend Henry, Victor begins to accept that he is killing his friends and family through the creature and even takes responsibility for these “murderous machinations”. Victor recognizes that he is becoming isolated by the creature and begins to sift through the emotions that come with this acceptance. Once he comes to terms that he’s the true murderer, Victor realizes that he has nothing left to live for than the creature’s destruction and explains, “My revenge is of no moment to you; yet. While I allow it to be a vice, I confess that it is the devouring and only passion of my soul…and I devote myself, either in my life or death, to [the creature’s] destruction.” (201). Victor’s devotion to murder his creature gives him something to look forward to, which gives his soul “passion” and meaning. Though this devotion seemingly comes from revenge, it is truly because the creature has left him no one else to turn to and Victor is finally forced to face his creature. Through taking responsibility for the creature, Victor casts himself out of society, deterring any possibility of future relationships and ultimately sacrificing his humanity.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrates the importance of balancing one’s ambitions through reason. When Victor Frankenstein’s pride causes him to deviate from reason, he becomes overly absorbed by his ambitions and believes he can achieve goals beyond his abilities. His obsession with proving himself blinds him to the consequences of striving for feats that are equal to those of God. Through Frankenstein’s isolation and sacrifice of humanity, Shelley exhibits the consequences of being overly ambitious and dodging responsibility for one’s actions. Shelley acknowledges that people should not become enthralled by their ambition and they must reflect upon what achieving their goals may cause in the long haul.

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Theme Of Ambition In Frankenstein. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“Theme Of Ambition In Frankenstein.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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Theme Of Ambition In Frankenstein [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Dec 3]. Available from:
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