Ulysses: The Theme Of Prideful Death
Ulysses and Victor are both very noble and intelligent men whose hubris leads them to their death. They are striving to go beyond that of why is know possible for humanity. There over confidence comes from their abilities to break through to the unknown in nature’s capabilities.
Ulysses and Victor were striving for greatness and along their paths became corrupted by the glory that came with their achievements. Ulysses is a hero from Homer’s Iliad who’s cleverness and way of words leads the Greeks in their victory over Troy. Ulysses is somewhat of an adventure junkie. “‘Brothers,’ I said, ‘o you, who having crossed a hundred thousand dangers, reach the west,to this brief waking-time that still is left unto your senses, you must not deny experience of that which lies beyond the sun, and of the world that is unpeopled. .’'(Inf. xxvi, 112-120) After returning home and not seeing his family in twenty years his love for adventure is more than that of his family so he leaves once again. Ulysses urges his men to be followers of worth and knowledge. By doing this he sins, though his ideals seem righteous it may seem. His assertion spurs his followers to cross the known geographical boundaries of human knowledge as well as to pursue the godly body of knowledge. Victor having the newfound ability to create life is a direct insult towards God. “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, I can s dear to me, and I will defend it.” They are both breaking unwritten rules in trying to pursue godliness in knowledge and glory.
Ulysses is striving to explore farther than the Atlantic which at the time was thought to be edge of the world. “but to be followers of worth and knowledge.’'(Inf. xxvi, 112-120) Victor is obsessing over the glory that would come with creating new life. He is stuck on the idea of how his achievement in controlling the ability for something to live and die. Ulysses is obsessed with the glory from exploration and conquest. Ulysses crosses the line when he begins to put his exploration before his family and taking care of his loved ones. Victor tends to have the same mindset throughout his journey from the creation of the creature to Victor’s death. Victor’s obsession morphs from his hunger for glory into him loathing the creature.
In Dante’s Inferno Ulysses is introduced as a Greek hero who starred in the Iliad. Dante is confused by why Ulysses would be in hell. We learn that Dante simply could never give up on his life of expeditions and after coming back from war instead of embracing the family he had missed for 20 years. Victor comes off as a crazy scientist whose purpose is to go farther than any human has ever gone in science. Victor was pursuing the achievement of life. These descriptions of each character are important because in both Dante and Shelly’s descriptions of the characters seems to be a noble cause but both our corrupted by their selfishness. Victor pursuing the creature ultimately to his death shows his insanity. Victor is justified in his hatred of the creature for murdering everyone. But that doesn’t give Victor the green light to give his own life just to attempt to kill the monster. Victor is in the grieving stage but this grief turns into revenge. Victor is responsible for his own anguish, he is the one who turned against the monster after promising to help create his wife.
Victor achieved this godlike power but at the cost of everything including his own life. Ulysses achieved glory unlike any other except maybe Achilles yet was still in hell. Ulysses being in hell shows us that by him achieving success and striving to unlock more knowledge about the natural world, it’s not about the action in which he is doing. What makes Ulysses sinful is when he begins to diggings for glory. Victor has this exact same selfishness when it comes to his experiments on the creation of life. Victors same obsession for creating the creature become hat once he first sees the creature alive. Victor and Ulysses even take the same risk in their journeys. Victor had given the creature his word that he would create him a wife since he had been damned to walk the earth alone. At this point knowing that the creature promised he wouldn’t hurt anyone else Victor takes it upon himself to break his promise believing that two creatures are worse than one despite the creature warning Victor what would happen if he were not create her. Victor selfishly discards of the new creatures body which causes the monster to enter a rage that he unleashes upon anyone he possibly can. The creature says, “ If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” Victor didn’t just not create her because of his fear of two creatures but for his disgust for the dirt creature he couldn’t bare to create a second. Ulysses is in the same situation when knowing that whoever goes beyond the knowledge of the world would be damned to death. He goes on anyway in search for his greatest adventure. Ulysses convinces his small crew that nothing would amount to the adventure they would experience upon this journey past that which is known of nature. So Ulysses and Victor both got those close to them killed. For Ulysses it was his entire crew and for Victor it was anyone the creature killed after being denied a wife. Ulysses and Victor are the same men. Both striving for greatness which would ultimately help our society, but they were doing such for their own selfish gain. They were blinded by their hubris which lead them to their deaths.