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How does power corrupt the character of Victor Frankenstein as compared to William...

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How does power corrupt the character of Victor Frankenstein as compared to William Shakespeare's Macbeth?

I have to write a comparative essay between the main characters in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and William Shakespeare's Macbeth.


This is the essay topic:


Compare and/or contrast the theme of power as a corrupting force in Frankenstein and Macbeth. Your essay should discuss how power brings about the demise of each of the respective characters.

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With both Victor Frankenstein and Macbeth, there is an insolence towards what is natural that leads the characters into the realms of science and the preternatural. And, it is this hubris which emanates from their powerful transgressions against Nature that effects their respective downfalls.

In your preparation for the writing of the essay you may wish to consider some points:

Both Victor Frankenstein and Macbeth are somewhat presumptuous in believing that they will be unaffected by the dangerous realms in which they enter.


  • In his arrogance, Victor remarks in Chapter 4 about his discovery of changing death to life,

....I was surprised, that among so many men of genius who had directed their inquiries towards the same science that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.

  • He also admits that he became "dizzy with the immensity of the prospect. And, it is this dizziness of power, this hubris which develops that leads to Victor's demise. For, he refuses to accept responsibility for the monster that he has created, hiding his secret and causing the deaths of loved ones as well as destroying the happiness of others--even his own. 


  • Macbeth, too, finds himself dizzy as he is confronted by the preternatural powers of the three sisters.  And, while Banquo cautions him against giving credence to their predictions which are but half-truths, Macbeth deludes himself in thinking that "chance may crown me,/Without my stir" (1.3).
  • For Macbeth, too, "way leads to way" as Robert Frost writes, and he finds himself committing heinous acts because of his "vaulting ambition," to which he admits scene 5 of Act I.  Like Victor, in his hubris, King Macbeth essays to preserve his position even if it causes the deaths of others.

[See the links below for character analyses of Victor and of Macbeth which may further assist you.]




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