Through Victor and Walton, Frankenstein portrays human beings as deeply ambitious, and yet also deeply flawed. Both Victor and Walton dream of transforming society and bringing glory to themselves through their scientific achievements. Yet their ambitions also make them fallible. Blinded by dreams of glory, they fail to consider the consequences of their actions. So while Victor turns himself into a god, a creator, by bringing his monster to life, this only highlights his fallibility when he is completely incapable of fulfilling the responsibilities that a creator has to its creation. Victor thinks he will be like a god, but ends up the father of a devil. Walton, at least, turns back from his quest to the North Pole before getting himself and his crew killed, but he does so with the angry conclusion that he has been robbed of glory. Neither Victor nor Walton ever escapes from their blinding ambitions, suggesting that all men, and particularly those who seek to raise themselves up in glory above the rest of society, are in fact rash and "unfashioned creatures" with "weak and faulty natures."
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The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Ambition and Fallibility appears in each chapter of Frankenstein. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Below you will find the important quotes in Frankenstein related to the theme of Ambition and Fallibility.
Letter 2 Quotes
I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection.
Letter 4 Quotes
You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been.
Chapter 4 Quotes
Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.
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Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.
Chapter 5 Quotes
For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.
Chapter 22 Quotes
If for one instant I had thought what might be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have banished myself forever from my native country and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth than have consented to this miserable marriage. But, as if possessed of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real intentions; and when I thought that I had prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim.
Walton, in continuation Quotes
Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries.