Some of the most prolific writers in literature have often used egoism as a prominent theme in their works. The primary reason for this proclivity is the assumption that the self is a source motivation for many actions. In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, egoism is extensively explored to develop the plot and main characters in both works. Shelly presents egoism through Victor Frankenstein and Robert Walton. Both men have an insatiable desire for the glory which is usually one of the most prominent hallmarks of egoism.
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Firstly, Victor is committed to becoming famous through his scientific discoveries. Similarly, Robert dedicates his life to his flagship voyage. Beckett also explores egoism in his play through the instinct of self-preservation. Pozzo is the embodiment of egoism throughout the play owing to his propensity to self-preservation when interacting with other characters. As the establishment, he is aware of the human condition of suffering and strives to remain sane in a world preoccupied with waiting.
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Shelly also explores egoism through her character’s sense of self-importance. Robert Walton is focused on his so-called “great enterprise” and assumes that his work will benefit the crown and many generations to come. He obviously sees himself as an important cog in voyage cruising and believes that he will bring “inestimable benefit” through this expedition (Shelley, 2007, p. 3). Robert is clearly self-confident ant truly believes that he is the only individual capable of undertaking this arduous task. Victor correspondingly believes that he will introduce a novel innovation that had never been witnessed in Victorian England. He firmly believes that bestowing animation to inanimate beings is his life’s work and is committed to achieving this goal even while being aware that he might very well be pursuing the impossible. Likewise, Beckett presents characters who display egoism, arrogance and an obsession with the self. For instance, Vladimir is cognizant of the nightmares suffered by Estragon but ignores them and only focuses on matters that involve him (Gale, 2015). Though brutally affected by the war, Vladimir is Estragon’s only respite. The former is egoistic and ignores him, leaving him to suffer psychologically and mentally throughout the play.
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