Frankenstein, Knowledge & Ambition: Key Quotes


It’s hard to talk about one without the other when it comes to knowledge and ambition, especially when the majority of the characters who fit this theme have a thirst for both! Check out the key quotes below, alongside some possible analysis, to support you in writing an essay based on these themes.

‘I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with enthusiasm of success’

(Walton, letter 2)

Here, Walton is making it clear what he values during his expedition to the Arctic. In the early 19th century, explorers wanted to find safe passage to India and China in order to transport goods more easily. If they succeeded, they would return home as heroes. The verb ‘glowing’ emphasises the importance of Walton’s ambition, especially coupled with the noun ‘enthusiasm’ which highlights his determination to succeed.

‘these thoughts exhilarated me and led me to apply with fresh ardour to acquiring the art of language’  (Monster, chapter 12)

  1. What word class is ‘exhilarated’ and what does it mean?
  2. What does the phrase ‘fresh ardour’ emphasise about the monster’s ambition?
  3. What does this quote suggest the monster thinks will happen if he learns the language?
  4. The monster calls language an ‘art’, which could this imply?

‘from my infancy I was imbued with high hopes and a lofty ambition’  (Frankenstein, chapter 24)

  1. What does the noun ‘infancy’ suggest about Victor’s scientific ambition?
  2. What word class is ‘imbued’ and what does it mean?
  3. The adjective ‘lofty’ means something of imposing height. What could this suggest about Victor’s ambition?
  4. How might the reader react to Frankenstein in this section of the novel?

‘I write to you, encompassed by peril and ignorant whether I am ever doomed to see again dear England’ (Walton, Chapter 24)

  1. What does the verb ‘encompassed’ suggest about Walton’s ambition?
  2. Shelley uses harsh, negative words like ‘peril’ and ‘doomed’. What word class are they and what is Shelley trying to imply by using them?
  3. What language device does Shelley use with the phrase ‘doomed to see again dear England’ and what effect does it have?
  4. How might the reader react to Walton’s ambition?