How are the relationships between Macbeth & Lady Macbeth and Frankenstein & The Creature similar?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Teachers and professors are known for drawing odd or unusual parallels between literary works of vastly different subjects and structures. In the case of William Shakespeare's Macbeth and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a comparison of relationships between central characters is particularly, shall we say, interesting. Lady Macbeth has become synonymous with the strong, forceful and highly-manipulative wife of a despotic figure who owes his ascent (and eventual decline) to the political machinations of that female spouse. While Macbeth himself is no wilting wallflower, the relationship between the two is definitely defined by Lady Macbeth's efforts at compelling her husband's ruthless ascent to the height of power.

This relationship between spouses stands in stark contrast to the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and his creature, which he derides as "the wretch" and "the demon" throughout his narrative. Whereas Macbeth and Lady Macbeth form a symbiotic relationship which sees them rise and fall together, any parallel to Shelley's story is limited to Victor's successful efforts at reanimating human tissue and creating the monster that will haunt him for the rest of his days. The creature exists solely on account of the young scientist's experiments into the rejuvenation of dead tissue, so his existence could be seen as vaguely similar to that of Macbeth, but that is a serious stretch. As noted, the figure of Macbeth may not have proven as ruthlessly ambitious as he was absent the forceful presence of his wife, but he was perfectly capable of assuming the same demeanor as occurs in reaction to his wife's machinations. Victor Frankenstein's relationship to his creature, meanwhile, takes an immediate turn for the worse as soon as Victor realizes his success. He is so horrified by his creation that he rejects it, triggering the tragic chain of events that follows. 

The extent to which a viable comparison of the relationships in the two works of literature -- one a play, the other a novel -- can be made, then, exists solely in the sense that both Macbeth and the creature are, to greater or lesser extents, the creation of their "partners," Lady Macbeth in the case of the former, and Victor in the case of the latter. 

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