Discuss the Ways in Which the Writers Present Ambition in "The White Devil" and "Paradise Lost Boox Ix"
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In “The White Devil” by Webster and “Paradise Lost Boox IX” by Milton there are a handful of characters that are driven by ambition. These characters often make foolish decisions to achieve their goals, often with consequences. Both Webster and Milton present ambition as a positive motivation but show that being over ambitious for personal gain has detrimental effects.
In “The White Devil” Webster presents Flamineo as the most ambitious character in the play. He is driven by the personal goal of climbing up the class ladder and will go to any measures to ensure this happens. In Act I, Scene II we see him act as a pander for Bracciano and Vittoria, dealing with their meeting in a highly pragmatic way by deceiving Camillo so a meeting can…show more content…
In comparison to Flamineo Milton presents Satan as an ambitious character, again for person gain. However, Satan’s personal goal is not to heighten his own position but to lower the position of God. However, unlike Flamineo, Satan fears the consequences of his actions from the start, knowing he has been expelled from Eden before so travels “cautious of day” so not to be seen by the angels and God as he looks for a way into Eden. Where Flamineo’s actions are planned and he acts practically, Satan is less calculated in his actions. He has to search for an animal in which to hide in. He eventually settles for “The serpent subtlest beast of all the field.” Satan’s actions are foolish as although not seen in Book IX he is highly punished for his actions and is condemned to life as a snake forever more. Milton uses epic similes within Book IX to show the actions of Satan, one from lines 510-150 shows Satan’s ambition is so strong he will go the long way around like a “skilful steersman” to achieve his final goal. This epic simile is particularly impressive as the beginning of the lines of the simile form an acrostic, the first letter of each line spelling out “SATAN”. However, as Chloe Batt highlights in her essay “The remaking of the Epic” Milton doesn’t “restrict himself solely to the epic mode” and instead “Milton defends his