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 take place between the two potential lovers. When Cornelia, mother of Flamineo and Vittoria, appears Flamineo confronts her and says it is her fault that he is acting as a pander as she lost their social level and Flamineo has to use Bracciano to get to where he wants to be. It isn’t until Flamineo’s soliloquy at the end of the scene that we learn of his intent as a villain, “The way ascends not straight, but imitates/ The subtle folding of a winter’s snake” this snake imagery forms a link between Flamineo and Satan in “Paradise Lost Book IX” as Satan takes the form of a snake to deceive God. In both texts the serpent is used as deception which is required to achieve a goal. However, we see Flamineo fall from a strong ambitious character throughout the play to a vulnerable coward. He idiotically falls for Francisco’s disguise as a “moor” called Mulinassar. This vulnerability shows that even a Machiavellian character can be devillianised. This is seen again when he literally stabs Marcello in the back. This shows cowardice as he takes action from behind not giving Marcello the chance to fight back as he doesn’t see it coming. This is the turning point for Flamineo as he is now under Bracciano’s power and his ruthless attempts to...
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