Discuss how idealism is portrayed in Shakespeare's Hamlet and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein without including quotations.

Idealism is the pursuit of ideals, or values based on one's view of what should be. This can be viewed as something positive or negative, depending on the context and person. For example, a scientist may have ideals that he attempts to reach with his experiments and research. If he succeeds in these endeavors, it could be considered a positive thing. However, if he fails in these endeavors, it could be considered a negative thing because he has not reached his ideals. In this sense, idealism is portrayed negatively in Frankenstein because Victor fails to live up to his own standards and expectations. The story also depicts how Frankenstein's idealism clashes with reality, showing how idealism can fail when confronted with harsh truth.

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Frankenstein's idealism is grounded in science rather than morals. Victor wants to use his undoubted scientific genius to create a race of creatures that will gradually conquer the world. They will bow down before him, treating him like a god, expressing their undying loyalty to the man who gave them life.

Like most idealists, Frankenstein lives in a world largely of his own imagination. And he's been living in that world for so long, that when the frightening realities of his experiments finally hit home, he's immediately plunged deep into a slough of despond. Victor's dream world has collided with reality, and in the ensuing aftermath, he is a major casualty, his fraught nerves and tortured mind shot to pieces by the terrible truth of what he's unleashed upon the world.

Hamlet is more of a moral idealist. The kingdom of Denmark is so rotten under Claudius's reign that the very air seems choked with foulness and corruption. Claudius's murder of his father, and the indecent haste with which Gertrude married Claudius, offend against Hamlet's sense of decency and propriety. As with Frankenstein, so with Hamlet; he lives in an ideal world of the imagination. He applies the standards of that ideal world to the real world of court life under Claudius and finds the real world wanting. In gaining revenge for his father's murder, Hamlet believes himself to be doing nothing less than restoring the moral health of the kingdom.

However, in the course of his moral crusade, Hamlet often acts immorally. His problem is that of many idealists: he's all too ready to sacrifice others for the realization of a moral vision. His shabby treatment of Ophelia and his setting up of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for death are just two examples of how Hamlet will not allow anyone to get in the way of his plan to bring morality back to Denmark. But Hamlet eventually discovers, like Frankenstein, that life just isn't that simple. If an ideal world is too ideal—too unrealistic, too unwilling to acknowledge the various shades of gray that characterize human behavior—then it will inevitably collide with reality at some point, leading to its inevitable destruction.

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Hamlet is an idealistic character, as he believes that people should act in a moral way and is crushed when they don't. He is disappointed that his mother, Gertrude, has married Claudius shortly after her husband, Hamlet's father, dies. In addition, he considers Claudius's murder of his brother (Hamlet's father) to be so amoral as to be sickening. Hamlet also expects constancy and dedication from his former beloved, Ophelia, and is distraught when he finds that she is wavering between allegiance to him and allegiance to her father, Polonius. Hamlet is destined to be upset because he expects constancy and morality and finds only evil motivations and corruption in the real world.

Victor Frankenstein is also idealistic because he believes that science and scientific creations will only lead to perfection and good outcomes. When Victor creates a monster from dead bodies, he expects the being to be perfect. When the being is far from perfect, Victor despairs of his creation. The monster is also idealistic, as he dreams of finding happiness with another beloved creature, but Victor, crushed by the reality of what he has created and the discrepancy between the reality of the monster and his dream, abandons his commitment to the creature and never creates a companion for him. 

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