Frankenstein Questions and Answers 10/15
1. Q. Discuss the main themes presented in the novel Frankenstein .[Frankenstein Questions and Answers 10/15]
Q. Nature vs. Nurture is an important theme throughout Frankenstein. With the case of Victor’s creature, he does not teach it or raise it but abandons it to figure out life on its own. If Victor had raised the creature, how do you think it would have turned out? Would it have still become a vindictive creature because it is its nature to be so?
would it have maybe followed in Victor’s footsteps to seek learning opportunities (since it is in fact quite intelligent) because Victor nurtured it that way?
Mary Shelley makes full use of themes that were popular during the Frankenstein. She is concerned with the use of knowledge for good or evil purposes, the invasion of technology into modern life, the treatment of the poor or uneducated, and the restorative powers of nature in the face of unnatural events. She addresses each concern in the novel , but some concerns are not fully addressed or answered. For instance, how much learning can man obtain without jeopardizing himself or others? This that has no clear answer in the novel.
Victor Frankenstein learns all he can about the and after his work at the university. Prior to his enrollment at the university, Victor focuses on the ancient art of alchemy, which had been discredited by the time of Shelley’s writing. Alchemy was an early form of chemistry, with philosophic and magical associations, studied in the Middle Ages. Its chief aims were to change base metals into gold and to discover the elixir of perpetual youth. At the university, Victor gains new knowledge with the most modern science as a background. However, it is Victor’s combination of old and new science that leads him down a path to self-destruction. This is one of Shelley’s themes: “How can we harness the knowledge that we have so that it is not self destructive and for the benefit of all mankind?” The answer is not an easy one, and Shelley is not clear on her feelings about the use or abuse of technology. The reanimation of man from the dead is a useful thing to revive people who have died too suon, but what responsibility must we exercise once we bring people back from the dead? This is a morally perplexing question. Thus, we are stuck in a dilemma:”How far raising the dead without destroying the living?”
. Since the Industrial Revolution had pervaded all part of European and British society by the time of her writing, Shelley questions how far the current wave of advances should push the individual in terms of personal and spiritual growth. She conveys the impression that perhaps the technological advances made to date rob the soul of growth when man becomes too dependent on technology. Personal freedom is lost when man is made a slave to machines, instead of machines being dominated by men. Thus, Victor becomes a lost soul when he tries his ghastly experiments on the dead and loses his moral compass when he becomes obsessed with animating the dead. Victor’s overindulgence in science takes away his humanity, and he is left with the consequences of these actions without having reasoned out the reality that his experiments may not have the desired effects.
Shelley presents nature as very powerful. It has the power to put the humanity back into man when the unnatural world has stripped him of his moral fiber. Victor often seeks to refresh his mind and soul when he seeks solitude in the mountains of Switzerland, down the Rhine River in Germany, and on tour in England. Shelley devotes long passages to the effect that nature has on Victor’s mind. He seems to be regenerated when he visits nature; his mind is better after a particularly harrowing episode. Nature also has the power to change man when Victor uses the power of lightning’s electricity to give life to dead human flesh. The awesome power of nature is also apparent when storms roll into the areas where clear skies had previously prevailed. Victor ignores all of the warnings against natural law and must pay the ultimate price for the violation of those laws.
The pursuit of knowledge is at the heart of Frankenstein, as Victor attempts to surge beyond accepted human limits and access the secret of life. Likewise, Robert Walton attempts to surpass previous human explorations by endeavoring to reach the North Pole. This ruthless pursuit of knowledge, of the light (see “Light and Fire“), proves dangerous, as Victor’s act of creation eventually results in the destruction of everyone dear to him, and Walton finds himself perilously trapped between sheets of ice. Whereas Victor’s obsessive hatred of the monster drives him to his death, Walton ultimately pulls back from his treacherous mission, having learned from Victor’s example how destructive the thirst for knowledge can be.
Frankenstein itself symbolizes many of the same themes that its contents symbolize. For example: Frankenstein’s monster is a creature created by imbuing various old body parts with a new life; similarly, Shelley’s texts include direct quotes and references to many older poems and literary works. The text therefore acts as a composite image of many older stories with “new life” breathed into them, just like the monster.
The text of virtually obsessed with creation events:
Frankenstein creates the monster out of dead tissue; the monster conceives of himself by reading about the creation of Adam in Paradise Lost, the monster asks for Frankenstein to create a mate for him; what’s more, three different levels of narrative are actually created: the letters that R. Walton sends his sister, telling of his time sailing to the North Pole.
Frankenstein tells Walton, embedded in the letters; and the story that Frankenstein’s monster tells Frankenstein his youth, embedded in Frankenstein’s story. The text as a whole, in this way, can be seen as a continual exploration of what is means to create something.
Frankenstein suggests that ambition is dangerous because it has the become evil. Frankenstein’s ambition motivates him to create the Monster, and he compares his own ambition to a list of other destructive ambitions: “If no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have spared his country; America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.” The fact that Frankenstein compares his own work to the destruction of entire civilizations underscores just how huge his ambition is. His suggestion that his ambition makes him like Satan, “the archangel who aspired to omnipotence,” also points to the grandiosity of Frankenstein’s ideas. Frankenstein imagines himself as nothing less than the devil incarnate. However, the novel also suggests that ambition alone is not enough to cause evil and suffering. Walton is introduced as a character every bit as ambitious as Frankenstein, but Walton chooses to abandon his ambition out of duty to his crew. Frankenstein’s real mistake (and crime) is that he places his ambition above his responsibilities to other people.
One of the ways in which the text explores the creation event is by posing the question of what responsibility, if any, the creator bears to the created. Frankenstein shuns his monster almost immediately after creating him. The monster attributes blame to Frankenstein for this, and puts the onus on Frankenstein to right his wrongs by creating a mate for the monster. When Frankenstein refuses, the monster punishes him; Frankenstein ultimately comes to believe that it is his duty to kill the monster. The two feel bound to each other by the creation event, and it is this bond that, by the account of Frankenstein and the monster, establishes culpability on the part of the creator for the outcome of the created.
The sublime natural world, embraced by Romanticism (late eighteenth mid-nineteenth century) as a source of unrestrained emotional experience for the individual, initially offers characters the possibility of spiritual renewal. Mired in depression and remorse after the deaths of William and Justine, for which he feels responsible, Victor heads to the mountains to lift his spirits. Likewise, after a hellish winter of cold and abandonment, the monster feels his heart lighten as spring arrives. The influence of nature on mood is evident throughout the novel, but for Victor, the natural world’s power to console him wanes when he realizes that the monster will haunt him no matter where he goes. By the end, as Victor chases the monster obsessively, nature, in the form of the Arctic desert, functions simply as the symbolic backdrop for his primal struggle against the monster.
Family Frankenstein presents family relationships as central to human life. Most of the families that appear in the novel-the Frankensteins and the DeLaceys-are perfect to the point of idealization. Meanwhile, most of the book’s horror and suffering is caused by characters losing their connection to their families, or not having a family in the first place. Frankenstein blames his isolation from his family for his disastrous decision to create the Monster: “If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections[…]then that study is certainly unlawful.” The Monster, too, blames his suffering on the fact that he has no family: “I was dependent on none and related to none.” When the Monster is trying to persuade Frankenstein to create a companion for him, he argues that his lack of family relationships is what has caused him to become a murderer. On the other hand, the Monster does have a family, in that Frankenstein is his father. Before creating the Monster, Frankenstein imagines that “No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve” the Monster’s. Instead, the Monster and Frankenstein spend the novel trying to destroy each other.
– The structure of blame in the novel focuses on particular events that are supposed to have completely altered the trajectory of the future that is, events that were necessary for broad swaths of future events to have obtained. So, for example, Frankenstein doubts that he would have undertaken the creation of Frankenstein if his father had not scoffed at his son’s interest in alchemy and the like (Volume I, Chapter 1). Similarly, the monster blames his creator’s neglect and deformed craftsmanship for his own bad lot in life (Volume II, Chapter 7). The reader is thereby invited to question whether this is actually a fair appraisal of causal relation and responsibility. Monstrosity
Obviously, this theme pervades the entire novel, as the monster lies at the center of the action. Eight feet tall and hideously ugly, the monster is rejected by society. However, his monstrosity results not only from his grotesque appearance but also from the unnatural manner of his creation, which involves the secretive animation of a mix of stolen body parts and strange chemicals. He is a product not of collaborative scientific effort but of dark, supernatural workings. The monster is only the most literal of a number of monstrous entities in the novel, including the knowledge that Victor used to create the monster (see “Dangerous Knowledge”). One can argue that Victor himself is a kind of monster, as his ambition, secrecy, and selfishness alienate him from human society. Ordinary on the outside, he may be the true “monster” inside, as he is eventually consumed by an obsessive hatred of his creation.
Isolation manifests both microcosmically and microcosmically in the novel. The framing narrative is set on a ship sailing to the North Pole, arguably the most isolated point on the globe; more microcosmically, Frankenstein isolates himself from the rest of society by creating life, thereby giving himself a unique status to which no one else can relate; his monster is more directly isolated, because he is the only one of his kind. Secrecy
Victor conceives in the secrets of of science as a mystery to be probed; its secrets, once discovered, must be jealously guarded. He considers M. Krempe, the natural philosopher he meets at Ingolstadt, a model scientist: “an uncouth man, but deeply imbued his science.” Victor’s entire obsession with creating life is shrouded obsession with destroying the monster remains equally secret until Walton hears his tale. Whereas Victor continues in his secrecy out of shame and guilt, the monster is forced into seclusion by his grotesque appearance. Walton serves as the final confessor for both, and their tragic relationship becomes immortalized in Walton’s letters.
The novel poses a question of where the line is drawn between and what we ought to do. It is shown to be scientifically possible for Frankenstein to create a living being out of dead tissue; yet there is an odd sense of paradox here: though the act seems wholly unnatural, is it not the case that it is natural by virtue of the fact that it can be done? The notion of scientific progress might suggest that Frankenstein was right to create such a being and conduct this research out of interest in expanding humanity’s knowledge and mastery over the world; yet the horrific consequences of the experiments suggest that he might be the case that he never should have gone down the path of creating life by himself. This moral puzzle is one of the main the novel invites the reader to explore.
2. Q. Contrary to popular belief, ‘Frankenstein’ is not the full title of Shelley’s 200-year old novel. It is actually titled, ‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.’ Prometheus was Greek Titan known for his intelligence. He also reportedly created man from clay, then stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans enabling civilization. Why do you think the title only partially survived the years?
Q. What is the significance of the title to the novel? How perception of Frankenstein?
The novel begins with explorer Robert Walton looking for a new passage to the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic Ocean. After weeks at sea, the crew of Walton’s ship finds an emaciated man, Victor Frankenstein, floating on an ice flow near death. In Walton’s series of letters to his sister in England, he retells Victor’s tragic story.
Growing up in Geneva, Switzerland, Victor is a subjects. He is raised with Elizabeth, an orphan adopted by his family. Victor delights in the sciences and vows to someday study science. Victor prepares to leave for his studies at the University of Ingolstadt, when his mother and Elizabeth became ill with scarlet fever. Caroline dies from the disease, and Elizabeth is nursed back to health. Krempe and M. Waldman.
At the university, Victor meets his professors M. years, Victor becomes very involved with his studies, even impressing his teachers and fellow students. He devises a plan to re-create and reanimate a dead body. He uses a to make his ambition a reality.
combination of chemistry, alchemy, After bringing the creature to life, Victor feels guilty that he has brought a new life into the world with no provisions for taking care of the “monster.” He runs away in fear and electricity and disgust from his creation and his conscience. The monster wanders the countryside while Victor seeks solace in a taver near the university. Henry Clerval appears to save Victor and restore him to health.
Alphonse writes to Victor telling him to come home immediately since an unknown assailant murdered his youngest brother, William, by strangulation. Justine Moritz, their housekeeper, is falsely accused of the murder of William, and she goes to the gallows willingly. Victor knows who the killer is but cannot tell his family or the police. He journeys out of Geneva to refresh his tortured soul and visits Mount Montanvert when he sees the monster coming to confront his maker with a proposition — “make me a mate of my own.”
The monster has taught himself to read and understand language so that he can follow the lives of his “adopted” family, the De Laceys. While the monster wanders the woods, he comes upon a jacket with a notebook and letters that were lost by Victor. From the notes, the monster learns of his creation. He has endured rejection by mankind, but he has not retaliated upon mankind in general for his misfortune. Instead, he has decided to take revenge on his creator’s family to avenge the injury and sorrow he endures from others.
Victor refuses to make a second monster, but is convinced when the monster assures Victor that he will leave Europe and move to South America. Victor agrees to begin work on a second creation and makes plans to go to England and Scotland, with Henry Clerval, to begin his secret work. Before he leaves Geneva, Victor agrees to marry Elizabeth immediately upon his return from the British Isles. Victor takes up residence in the Orkney Islands, off the coast of Scotland. Victor destroys his project and goes out to sea to dispose of the remains. The monster vows revenge on Victor not upholding his end of their bargain.
Victor’s boat is blown off course by a sudden storm, and he ends up in Ireland. Henry Clerval’s body has washed up on the shores of Ireland, and Victor is set to stand trial for murder. Fortunately, Mr. Kirwin, a local magistrate, intercedes on Victor’s behalf and pleads his case before a court, which then finds Victor innocent of the crime. Victor is miserable knowing he has caused the deaths of so many, but recovers enough to finalize the plans for his marriage to Elizabeth.
The wedding goes off as planned. While Victor makes sure he covers all possible entrances that the monster could use to get into the wedding chamber, the monster steals into Elizabeth’s room and strangles her. Victor now wants revenge and chases the monster through Europe and Russia. Victor nearly catches the monster near the Arctic Circle when Robert Walton discovers him. Victor, now near death, is taken aboard Walton’s ship to recover from exhaustion and exposure. The monster appears out of the mists and ice to visit his foe one last time. The monster enters the cabin of the ship and tells Walton his side of the story. Victor dies, and the monster tells Walton that he will burn his own funeral pyre. The monster then disappears in the waves and darkness, never to be seen again.
Frankenstein is a unique novel in the canon of English find the answers to questions that no doubt perplexed Mary Shelley and the readers of her time. his creation, the literature.
Shelley presents a unique character in Victor Frankenstein monster. It is as though there are two distinct halves to one character. Each half competes for attention from the other and for the chance to be the ruler of the other end, this competition reduces both men to ruins. advancing at a rate half. In the Shelley also is keenly aware of the concern that technology was that dizzy the mind of early eighteenth century readers. Perhaps this novel is addressing that issue of advances created by men, but which fly in the face of “natural” elements and divine plans. Therefore, the title is much to the appropriation of the plotline – Frankenstein: , and the story is true – and is ‘The alternative title of Frankenstein is The Modern Prometheus to this moniker: in Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity; he was subsequently bound and punished eternally for his crimes. Similarly, Frankenstein discovered how to give life to things a power thought divine subsequently punished by the endless tragedy delivered unto him by his creation. of the Novel Walton.
3. Q. Frankenstein begins and ends with letters written by Robert Why do you think that Mary Shelley chose to have him frame the novel? How would your opinions of Victor Frankenstein and his creation differ if their story was told directly by Victor Frankenstein himself? What if the story was told by the creation?
Q. How would the story and its meaning differ if we side of the story?
Frankenstein has a symmetrical structure. As mentioned earlier, the the three male narrators which begins with Walton, then Victor, it then moves to the creature, then back to Victor, and at last, to Walton again. It comes full circle. This creates a multi-layered form, where the narratives are, at times, within other narratives. The narratives within narratives, and the untold perspectives suggest, that there is no possibility of closure, where the shifting narrative excludes stability. The epistolary form of the novel and the triangular narrative, as Jansson describes it, is important to the story because: “… each of the three main characters have important conversations with the two others, and this triangular pattern also marks the exclusion of all other characters from the story”. This exclusion of all other characters also reinstates the importance of the three male narrators and their role in the story, since they are the only ones given the power of voice and privilege to tell their story. Jansson, furthermore, points out Walton as the primary narrator. She sees his narrative as having several dimensions and functions: “He mediates the stories of Victor and the creature, and, at the beginning of the novel, Shelley also uses him to introduce some of the key themes”.
The story then appears to be an account of actual events, thus, adding to the horror of Victor’s scientific experiment. The novel raises questions of the progress of science and Anne Mellor sees Mary Shelley’s treatment of science as an “[…] implicit warning against the possible dangers inherent in the technological developments of modern science” (Mellor, 1989: 114). And who better to warn against scientific progress than a male (though, fictive) scientist? This could serve as another reason why Mary Shelley chose male narrators: persuasive effect. Mary Shelley also used the narrative form as a tool to further her story and its concerns, and Jansson describes the creature’s narrative as the heart of the story and at its heart, and that it mediates the key themes of abandonment, responsibility and the effect of environment.
The novel contains a number of “framing devices,” which are stories that surround other stories, setting them up in one way or another. Robert Walton’s letters to his sister frame the story that Victor Frankenstein tells Walton, and Frankenstein’s story surrounds the story that the monster tells, which in turn frames the story of the DeLacey family. The overall style of Frankenstein is elevated and formal. The characters use complex diction (word choice) to capture the intensity of their emotional experiences. For example, when Walton writes to his sister at the start of the novel, he explains his loneliness by lamenting that “I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own.” Walton gives an idealized description of his vision of the perfect friend, and focuses on describing the intellect and cultural sophistication he imagines such an individual would possess. Similarly, when Victor describes learning what contemporary scientists were capable of achieving, he explains that “I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable enemy; one by one the various keys were touched which formed the mechanism of my being.” He uses the metaphor of a musical instrument being played to describe the revelation and inspiration he experienced at this moment.
Both Walton and Victor are well-educated and highly ambitious men committed to achieving prestige in their chosen fields. The sophisticated language they use reflects the grandeur of their ambitions to do things like explore uncharted lands and develop a system for creating life. Interestingly, the monster speaks in a similar style, despite having been raised in isolation with practically no human contact. When the monster first speaks with Victor during their meeting on the mountaintop, he threatens to “glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.” Despite his monstrous appearance and the grotesque actions he is threatening to commit, the monster has a highly sophisticated command of language and speaks in the same elevated and grandiose style as Victor does. This stylistic choice confirms the implicit comparison between Victor and the monster that reoccurs throughout the novel, and supports the inherent humanity of the monster. Although Victor desperately wants to believe that he has nothing in common with his creation, the shared style of their speech suggests otherwise.
Frankenstein is narrated in the first-person (using language like “I”, “my” etc.) by different characters at different points in the novel. The shifts in narrator and the alternating points of view are central to the novel’s theme of looking past appearances to reflect on what may lie beneath. The novel begins with narration from Captain Walton, who is writing a series of letters to his sister Margaret. The switches to Victor Frankenstein, who tells Walton about his life and how he came to be wandering in the Arctic. When Walton first encounters Victor , he wonders if the stranger is insane, due to his wild appearance and desperate plight . By listening to Victor’s story Walton comes to appreciate his experiences. When Victor reaches the point in his story where he describes meeting with monster, the point of view switches yet again, this time to the monster, who narrates in the first person, describing his experiences. Both Victor and the reader are set up to expect the monster to be coarse, barbaric, violent, and inhuman, but his narrative shows him to be intelligent, sensitive, and capable of feeling profound human emotions like empathy and love. After that, the point of view returns to Victor, who continues his story. The novel ends with a return of view and first person narration.
The tone begins optimism from the perspective of Captain Walton who is excited and hopeful about his Arctic voyage. The mood, however, quickly darkens with the appearance of Victor, who is in a dangerous condition, and who makes clear at the start of his story that “nothing can alter my destiny.” The entire narrative is framed by a fatalistic acceptance that the end of the story will be tragic. This framing casts a dark shadow over the potentially positive account of Victor’s happy childhood and intellectual pursuits. The conclusion of the novel contributes most strongly to the tone of futility. By the time he had finished recounting his story, Victor is hopeless and waiting only to die. He considers his entire career and life to have been a tragic failure that resulted in death and suffering. After the failure of Walton’s expedition, he too is forced to accept that he will not fulfill his ambitions and will have to return to England full of regret and disappointment.
Foreshadowing is a significant element in Frankenstein. Victor and explicitly foreshadows the tragic events that will come later by saying things like “Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.” Foreshadowing is also heightened through references to fate, destiny, and omens, which gives the impression that Victor’s story was doomed from the start. This use of foreshadowing might be yet another way in which he obscures his failed moral responsibility by making it sound as though no alternative were ever possible, when he actually could have chosen different actions at many points. William’s murder, The death of Justine is foreshadowed in several ways. Before Elizabeth introduces the character of Justine in a letter to Victor, which foreshadows that she will play a significant role in the plot. Despite Elizabeth clinging to hope that Justine will not be executed, previous events in the novel have foreshadowed that Justine’s innocence will not protect her. William was a totally innocent child, and was still brutally killed. The monster was innocent at the moment of his creation, and he was still abandoned. If anything, these previous events signal that Justine’s innocence and kindness make her even more likely to meet a cruel death. Moreover, since Justine’s life rests on Victor’s willingness to be honest, and he has so far only shown himself to be deceptive, his past behavior foreshadows his refusal to speak out on her behalf. foreshadowed. Immediately after Elizabeth’s death on her wedding night is heavily the monster comes to life, Victor has a nightmare involving a vision of Elizabeth lying and then transforming so that “I thought I held the corpse of my dead mother dead, in my vision foreshadows that Elizabeth will die, and that her death is in some way connected to the monster. The foreshadowing continues when the monster, enraged that Victor has destroyed the female mate, vows “I will be with you on your wedding night.” This comment foreshadows the danger awaiting Elizabeth, as does the action Victor has taken: he has effectively murdered the creation that was going to be the monster’s bride, so now the monster will murder his.
4. Q. Discuss briefly and critically Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a gothic novel.
Q. Which gothic features are found in the novel Frankenstein ? Discuss briefly.
Frankenstein is by no means the first Gothic novel. Instead, this novel is a compilation of Romantic and Gothic elements combined into a singular work with an unforgettable story. The Gothic novel is unique because by the time Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, several novels had appeared using Gothic themes, but the genre had only been around since 1754.
The first Gothic horror novel was The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, published in 1754. Perhaps the last type of novel in this mode was Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, published in 1847. In between 1754 and 1847, several other novels appeared using the Gothic horror story as a central storytelling device, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1794) by Ann Radcliffe, The Monk (1796) by Matthew G. Lewis, and Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) by Charles Maturin, Gothic novels focus on the mysterious and supernatural. In Frankenstein, Shelley uses rather mysterious circumstances to have Victor Frankenstein create the monster: the cloudy circumstances under which Victor gathers body parts for his experiments and the use of little known modern technologies for unnatural purposes. Shelley employs the supernatural elements of raising the dead and macabre research into unexplored fields of science unknown by most readers. She also causes us to question our views on Victor’s use of the dead for scientific experimentation. Upon hearing the story for the first time, Lord Byron is said to have run screaming from the room, so the desired effect was achieved by Mary Shelley.
Gothic novels also take place in gloomy places like old buildings (particularly castles or rooms with secret passageways), dungeons, or towers that serve as a backdrop for the mysterious circumstances. A familiar type of Gothic story is, of course, the ghost story. Also, far away places that seem mysterious to the readers function as part of the Gothic novel’s setting. Frankenstein is set in continental Europe, specifically Switzerland and Germany, where many of Shelley’s readers had not been. Further, the incorporation of the chase scenes through the Arctic regions takes us even further from England into regions unexplored by most readers. Likewise, Dracula is set in Transylvania, a region in Romania near the Hungarian border. Victor’s laboratory is the perfect place to create a new type of human being. Laboratories and scientific experiments were not known to the average reader, thus this was an added element of mystery and gloom. Just the thought of raising the dead is gruesome enough. Shelley takes full advantage of this literary device to enhance the strange feelings that Frankenstein generates in its readers. The thought of raising the dead would have made the average reader wince in disbelief and terror.
In the Gothic novel, the characters seem to bridge supernatural world, Dracula lives as both a normal person and as the undead, moving easily between both worlds to accomplish his aims. Likewise, the Frankenstein monster seems to have some sort of communication between himself and his creator, because the monster appears wherever Victor goes. The monster also moves with amazing superhuman speed with Victor matching him in the chase towards the North Pole. Thus, Mary Shelley combines several ingredients to create a memorable novel in the Gothic or supernatural; tradition, Frankenstein is a gothic novel. Gothic novels focus on the mysterious take place in dark, often exotic, settings, and yield unease if not terror in their readers. The double is a frequent feature of the Gothic novel, and in a sense, Frankenstein and his monster are doubles. Some literary historians also consider Frankenstein the first science fiction novel.
5. Q. What type of novel is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? Is it a gothic novel fiction? Discuss illustratively.
Science was rapidly changing in the 1800s, and further advance today. For many readers, Shelley’s novel serves as a warning of science gone awry and the irreversible outcomes of well-intentioned experiments. What are some scientific inventions/experiments that are happening now that could lead to monstrous results?
Frankenstein is a Gothic novel in that it employs mystery, secrecy, and psychology to tell the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s doomed monster. The Gothic emerged as a literary genre in the 1750s, and is characterized by supernatural elements, mysterious and secretive events, settings in ancient and isolated locations, and psychological undercurrents often related to family dynamics and repressed sexuality. In Frankenstein, readers get only vague descriptions of the process Victor uses to construct the monster, and descriptions like “Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil” amplify the horror by prompting the reader to actively imagine what Victor must have done. Much of the action takes place at nighttime, and in mysterious circumstances. The novel also hints that Victor’s strange behavior may be rooted in repression. While he claims to love Elizabeth, their relationship has incestuous tones since they grew up together as siblings. He also seems reluctant to marry her and is fixated instead on his friend Henry. His desire to create life outside of typical sexual reproduction might reflect some level of trauma with heterosexuality, or sexuality in general.
At the same time, Frankenstein challenges some of the conventions of Gothic ture. Unlike traditional Gothic supernatural elements such as ghosts or vampires, the monster’s origins are deliberate and not mysterious. We know exactly where he comes created him, and why. There’s never any question about whether the or from, who monster actually exists. We know the monster was created on purpose and the havoc he wreaks is the result of a lack of foresight on the part of his creator, Victor Frankenstein, not of unknowable forces. The mystery of the book is not where the monster came from, but what he wants. Frankenstein is also set in approximately the same time period when it was written, whereas traditional Gothic fiction was almost always set in the past. While many Gothic novels imply that in the past people’s lack of knowledge and repressive customs led to horrifying situations, Frankenstein suggests too much knowledge and an emphasis on innovation might also lead to horror.
Science fiction as a genre speculates about possible applications for advances science and technology. In science fiction novels, the rules governing normal life are transgressed in some way. For example, a popular convention in science fiction is life existing outside of Earth; for Shelley, the idea of humans being able to artificially create new life becomes possible within the space of the novel. In many science fiction novels, the fictional technologies and scientific developments can be read as an implicit criticism of contemporary society. By prompting her readers to think about an extreme example where someone recklessly pursues knowledge, Shelley sheds light on her own era, where a focus on inventing new things and optimizing technology was beginning to threaten established ways of life.
In Frankenstein, the reckless pursuit of scientific discovery leads to chaos, tragedy, and despair for all of the novel’s characters. Because so many characters suffer as a result of scientific advances, many critics read the book as a critical response to the Scientific Revolution. Beginning in the mid-sixteenth century with Copernicus’s argument for the sun being located at the center of the universe, the Scientific Revolution ushered in an era where assumptions about the natural world were challenged and revised. Other significant scientific discoveries, such as Galileo’s contributions to astronomy and physics and Isaac Newton’s discoveries about gravity and the laws of motion, meant that the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw huge changes to the level of knowledge available about the world and how it worked. These scientific discoveries also led to shifts in how people related to knowledge: rather than relying on accepted wisdom from authoritative sources, people favored tests, observation, and evidence to support what was considered to be “true.”
Advances in our understanding of the laws of science has led to many positive changes. However, some critics saw the progress of science as limitless, raising fears about how far is too far. Christian theology explains creation as an act of God; therefore, to tamper with this process, as Victor Frankenstein does in creating his monster, was to position oneself as on the same level as God. The idea of mutilating and dissecting corpses for the sake of experimentation became an increasingly real fear as medical study required better knowledge of anatomy and the possibility of experimental procedures. Shelley’s novel is not necessarily opposed to scientific progress or discovery, but focuses on what happens when science is not paired with individual moral responsibility. Victor Frankenstein is fixated on the glory of achievement, without considering what it will mean to have a new species be dependent on him.
Since the publication of Frankenstein, many other writers have grappled with questions of what might happen when people ignore the potential consequences of scientific discovery. In 1896, H.G Wells published The Island of Dr. Moreau, in which a Victor Frankenstein-like scientist creates human-animal hybrids. The novel was a direct response to contemporary debates about vivisection (experimental procedures performed on living animals). More recent developments in science and technology have also provoked reflection about a need for caution when testing the limits of innovation. Margaret Atwood’s 2003 novel Oryx and Crake explores similar themes of bioengineering and the creation of a new type of humanoid, responding to scientific progress around genetic engineering and assisted reproduction, as well as environmental destruction. As technology, artificial intelligence, and the digital realm come to the forefront of scientific and ethical debates, television series like Black Mirror have also tackled the way in which carelessness and a lack of foresight can lead to unintended consequences.
6. Q. What significant symbols and motifs have been used by Frankenstein? Discuss briefly.
Although Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is compelling in and of itself a symbolic level or levels, with Frankenstein’s monster standing in for the coming of industrialization to Europe and the death and destruction that the monster wreaks symbolizing the ruination that Shelley feared industrialization would eventually cause.
Light “What could not be expected in the country of eternal light?” asks Walton, displaying a faith in, and optimism about, science. In Frankenstein, light symbolizes knowledge, discovery, and enlightenment. The natural world is a place of dark secrets, hidden passages, and unknown mechanisms; the goal of the scientist is then to reach light. The dangerous and more powerful cousin of light is fire. The monster’s first experience with a still-smoldering flame reveals the dual nature of fire: he discovers excitedly that it creates light in the darkness of the night, but also that it harms him when he touches it.
The presence of fire in the text also brings to mind the full title of Shelley’s Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. The Greek god Prometheus gave the knowledge of fire to humanity and was then severely punished for it. Victor, attempting to become a modern Prometheus, is certainly punished, but unlike fire, his “gift” to humanity-knowledge of the secret of life-remains a secret.
As discussed in Major Themes, Victor Frankenstein is an allegory for the mythical figure, Prometheus. As the latter stole fire from the gods and was punished for it, so did the former discover the secret to creating life, and subsequently suffer for it.
Shelley intersperses quotations from and references to poetry throughout the novel, adding a level of artistic awareness to a novel that purports to be testimonial in nature.
Genesis Frankenstein’s creation of the monster can be read as an allegory for the creation
story from Genesis, of God creating Adam. As is the case in that story, Frankenstein forms the creature in his image (i.e., that of a human albeit grotesquely), and animates the creation.
The novel is deeply concerned with evidence and direct testimony with respect to events. As such, proof of communicauon between people is often conveyed in the form of letters, both within the story (e.g., the monster showing letters from his upbringing to Frankenstein) and in a reflexive context (i.e., the most direct interface between the reader and narrative is the collection of Walton’s letters to his sister).
The novel is explicitly retrospective on every level: Walton recounting events that have already happened in his letters to his sister; Frankenstein is recounting his history to Walton; the monster is recounting his past to Frankenstein. As such, the tone of the narrative is generally very self-aware and reflective expressing regret over what happened; imagining how events might have gone differently; and so forth. –
7. Do you consider Mary Shelley to be a supremely talented novelist judging by her writing in Frankenstein? Comment critically.
Q. Frankenstein is a unique novel in the canon of English -iterature. The novel seeks to find the answers to questions that no doubt perplexed Mary Shelley and the readers of her time.
Shelley presents a unique character in Victor Frankenstein and his creation, the monster. It as though there are two distinct halves to one character. Each half competes for attention from the other and for the chance to be the ruler of the other half. In the end, this competition reduces both men to ruins.
Shelley also is keenly aware of the that technology was advancing at a rate that dizzied the mind of early eighteenth century readers. Perhaps this novel is addressing that issue of advances created by men, but which fly in the face of “natural” elements and divine plans.
Shelley crafts her exquisite novel in a way to direct attention to the treatment of the poor and uneducated as a major theme throughout the book. She would have learned these precepts from her father William Godwin, a noted writer and philosopher. But the beginnings of the historical background go back much further than Shelley’s own time.
To understand Shelley’s time period, one must delve into the period that preceded Shelley’s. Mary was born in 1797, after the American and French Revolutions. Europe was a tense place for fear of potential political revolutions during much of the period from 1770-1800. The English upper class feared that the French Revolution might spill over to their own country. Many felt that change was necessary to ensure equality among the masses. The wars that Napoleon waged, begun in 1805, essentially quashed any real hope of building a better Europe. However, the seeds of discord were sown for the dissolution of social and class barriers in England and mainland Europe. The cries of “liberty , fraternity, and equality,” were left on the impressionable where. It was thought that man could achieve greater personal liberty, without the threat of overbearing governments. Men also reasoned that brotherhood in a common cause – whether it be social, class, or academic would lead to a better country and a better government. English Channel served to minds of men every England benefited from being linked to Europe, slow the pace of the revolution that swept the European continent. English political and social institutions were keenly aware of the wave of feelings that revolution had created in France and the United States. Since English rule was now less dependent on the monarchy than before, the power structure of the United Kingdom was more widely distributed than her European counterparts. The balance that England achieved made for an uneasy peace at home. England was at war with France from 1793 to 1815. The English government made deals with other monarchs in Prussia, Russia, and Austria to keep England from entering into any alliance that might compromise English control of the high seas. The result was criticism of English foreign policy at home by such liberal thinkers such as Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. Both of these men had seen the results of England’s tuming the other cheek from the repression that they saw in Austria and Italy. Byron and Shelley felt that the Tory party in England had not done enough to ensure the freedom of the people at large and had essentially “gotten in bed” with the more conservative Austrians and Italians.
The Industrial Revolution also gave rise to a new social class middle class. As more businesses moved from home- or cottage-based operations, factories became the next place where conflict would be waged between the working poor and their employers. New towns sprang up with a new set of problems for local governments. Few checks and balances existed for factory owners or governments. As a result, town life was forbidding and dangerous. The countryside yielded little relief from city life, as small farmers had to make a living on small plots of land, in contrast to large landowners. Usually, the old gentries had ruled the land for many years previous, and they controlled the larger portions of land, thus regulating its use. The poor enjoyed a better standard of living than previously, but the concerns of the poor and the gap between the rich and poor became more pronounced during this period.
The English government repressed the people at home, fearing a latent and fearing the liberals in the government who supported social and economic reforms. Mary Shelley writes about the ideal society where people aided each other and the less fortunate. Liberal-minded men would ensure that the conditions of those who labored on the farm or in the factory would be tolerable and fair. The Shelley’s, both Mary and Percy, adopted these ideas. The proper treatment of the Frankenstein’s housekeeper, Justine Moritz, is indicative of Mary’s own views of how the laboring class should be treated. Also, the whole DeLacey storyline details the French government’s imprisonment and banishment, for unclear reasons, of a family who aided a Turkish merchant in their home country. As a result of their assistance, the family has all of their possessions confiscated, and the male members of the family are sent to prison. Shelley suggests that governments are too powerful and that charges of treason are too easily leveled, without the benefit of a proper trial and circumstantial evidence. The savior is Safie, who uses her own wealth to rescue the De Lacey’s from certain poverty.
8. Q. Discuss the roles of various characters in the novel Frankenstein.
Q. Who is the real protagonist in Frankenstein? Is it Victor Frankenstein, who is also the namesake of the novel? Or is it Frankenstein’s creature? Could Walton be the protagonist since the story told through him?
The creator of the monster, Victor spends most of the novel trying to defeat the monster. Victor is the oldest son of Alphonse and Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein. Victor’s childhood is a good one. His doting parents lavish him with attention. He even receives a present, in the form of Elizabeth Lavenza, from his parents.
He later attends the University of Ingolstadt, where his interest in the teachings of the physical sciences prompt him to study them while there. He seeks to combine the best of old and new science to create a new being. Victor becomes obsessed with the idea of creating the human form and acts upon it. Immediately after creating the monster, Victor falls into a depression and fear. He leaves the university and returns home to his family, only to find tragedy there. Convinced his youngest brother’s murderer is his creation, he sets off to find the creature.
Though torn by remorse, shame, and guilt, Victor refuses to admit to anyone the horror of what he has created, even as he sees the ramifications of his creative act spiraling out of control.
Victor changes over the course of the novel from an innocent youth fascinated by the prospects of science into a disillusioned, guilt-ridden man determined to destroy the fruits of his arrogant scientific endeavor. Whether as a result of his desire to attain the godlike power of creating new life or his avoidance of the public arenas in which science is usually conducted, Victor is doomed by a lack of humanness. He cuts himself off from the world and eventually commits himself entirely to an animalistic obsession with revenging himself upon the monster.
At the end of the novel, having chased his creation ever northward, Victor relates his story to Robert Walton and then dies. With its multiple narrators and, hence, multiple perspectives, the novel leaves the reader with contrasting interpretations of Victor: classic mad scientist, transgressing all boundaries without concern, or brave adventurer into unknown scientific lands, not to be held responsible for the consequences of his explorations.
Victor is a modern scientist unleashed upon an unsuspecting society. Not fully aware of the consequences of his creating a new race of humans, he spends his entire life trying to destroy the same creation. Victor is also the unbridled ego who must satisfy his urge to know all and use that learning to create a new race of man. His excesses ultimately destroy him. Victor represents the id, the part of the psyche that is governed by the instinctive impulses of sex or aggression.
The monster is created by Victor Frankenstein while at the University of Ingolstadt.”Formed into a hideous and gigantic creature,” the monster faces rejection and fear from his creator and society. The monster experiment gone awry. He does acquire humane characteristics, even compassion for his “adopted” family, the De Lacey’s, but he still murders for revenge. The creature also begins to learn about himself and gains general knowledge through the books he reads and the conversations he hears from the De Lacey’s.
The monster is Victor Frankenstein’s creation, assembled from strange chemicals, animated by a mysterious spark. He enters life eight feet tall and enormously strong but with the mind of a newborn. Abandoned by his creator and confused, he tries to integrate himself into society, only to be shunned universally. Looking in the mirror, he realizes his physical grotesqueness, an aspect of his persona that blinds society to his initially gentle, kind nature. Seeking revenge on his creator, he kills Victor’s younger brother. After Victor destroys his work on the female monster meant to ease the monster’s solitude, the monster murders Victor’s best friend and then his new wife.
While Victor feels unmitigated hatred for his creation, the monster not a purely evil being. The monster’s eloquent narration of events (as provided by Victor) reveals his remarkable sensitivity and benevolence. He assists a group of poor peasants and saves a girl from drowning, but because of his outward appearance, he is rewarded only with beatings and disgust. Torn between vengefulness and compassion, the monster ends up lonely and tormented by remorse. Even the death of his creatorturned-would-be-destroyer offers only bittersweet relief: joy because Victor has caused him so much suffering, sadness because Victor is the only person with whom he has had sort of relationship.
The monster represents the conscience created by Victor, the ego of sonality the psyche which experiences the external world, or reality, through the senses, that organizes the thought processes rationally, and that governs action. It mediates between the impulses of the id, the demands of the environment, and the standards of the superego.
Justine is the housekeeper for the Frankenstein family. We do not learn her character, except that she embodies the best in suffering for a just cause. She represents graceful suffering in the face of injustice, much like a martyr. Justine is well treated by the Frankenstein family and is regarded not as household help, but with the esteem and affection accorded a family member. Also, Justine endures the rejection by her own family through no fault of her own. It is the Frankenstein family, specifically Elizabeth, who rescues her and allows her to continue her work as a housekeeper. Through the character of Justine, Mary Shelley addresses the issues of equal treatment for domestic help and the accommodation of those in need of aid. Because of all that she endures, Justine is a sympathetic character who elicits a favorable response and empathy from the reader.
For a novel written by the daughter of an important feminist, Frankenstein is strikingly devoid of strong female characters. The novel is littered with passive women who suffer calmly and then expire.
Justine is executed for murder, despite her innocence; the creation of the female monste is aborted by Victor because he fears being unable to control her actions once she is animated; Elizabeth waits, impatient but helpless, for Victor to return to her, and she is eventually murdered by the monster. One can argue that Shelley renders her female characters so passive and subjects them to such ill treatment in order to call attention to the obsessive and destructive behavior that Victor and the monster exhibit.
Elizabeth Lavenza is the orphan child taken in by the Frankenstein family, who was lovingly raised with Victor Frankenstein; she later becomes Victor’s wife and is killed by the monster on their honeymoon. Elizabeth was the daughter of a Milanese nobleman and a German mother. She was found living with a poor family near Lake Como. She was granted land, where she and Victor honeymooned, around the time she was getting married. Elizabeth is the one who keeps the family together after Caroline dies. Elizabeth survives the scarlet fever plague that takes Caroline. She writes to Victor while at school and tells him what is going on with the family. She is the source for information for Victor when he is away at the university.
Her letters are important in the plot of the story. Elizabeth also represents a character much like Mary Shelley herself, by aiding the poor, respecting all classes of common people, and coming to the assistance of Justine Moritz, when Justine is accused of murder. Elizabeth was a happy child and had a positive outlook on life. She is an innocent murdered merely for revenge on Victor Elizabeth Frankenstein’s adopted sister and his wife. She is also a mother-figure: when Frankenstein’s real mother is dying, she says that Elizabeth “must supply my place.” Elizabeth fills many roles in Frankenstein’s life, so when the Monster kills her, Frankenstein is deprived of almost every form of female companionship at once. Some critics consider Elizabeth a vague, unrealistic character who is far less developed than the male characters in the novel. One reason Elizabeth may seem insubstantial is that Frankenstein, the narrator, doesn’t see her very clearly. When he does see her, it’s as a possession: “I[…]looked upon Elizabeth as mine.” Elizabeth dies because at a crucial moment Frankenstein overlooks her entirely. The Monster tells him, “I will be with you on your wedding night” but it doesn’t occur to Frankenstein that the Monster is threatening Elizabeth.
Walton captains a North Pole-bound ship that gets trapped between sheets of ice. While waiting for the ice to thaw, he and his crew pick up Victor, weak and emaciated from his long chase after the monster. Victor recovers somewhat, tells Walton the story of his life, and then dies. Walton laments the death of a man with whom he felt a strong, meaningful friendship beginning to form. Walton
Walton’s letters to functions as the conduit through which the reader hears the story of Victor and his monster. However, he also plays a role that parallels Victor’s in many ways. Like Victor, Walton is an explorer, chasing after that “country of eternal light”—unpossessed knowledge. Victor’s influence on him is paradoxical: one moment he exhorts Walton’s almost-mutinous men to stay the path courageously, regardless of danger; the next, he serves as an abject example of the dangers of heedless scientific ambition.
Clerval’s story runs parallel to Frankenstein’s, Frankenstein’s outsized ambition and the more commonplace ambitions of ordinary men. Clerval is first described as a boy who loved “enterprise, hardship and even danger, for its own sake.” Like Walton, Clerval shares Frankenstein’s desire to achieve great things at any cost. Also like Frankenstein, Clerval makes a discovery at university. Clerval believes he has found “the means of materially assisting the progress of European colonization and trade” in India. Frankenstein suggests a parallel between Clerval’s discovery and his own creation of the Monster when he argues that colonialism is the work of ambitious men like him. Without ambition, he says, “America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.” Frankenstein’s friendship with Clerval also shows the importance of companionship in the novel. Frankenstein draws strength and comfort from having a friend who shares his experiences and feelings: “Excellent friend! how sincerely you did love me, and endeavor to elevate mind until it was on a level with your own!”
9. Q. How far is Frankenstein an example of Romantic literature?
Q. Do you find any Romantic traits in the character of the Monster?
The Romantic Movement originated in Germany with Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s play Faust (1808-1832) addresses the issue of how man can acquire too much knowledge, how man can make deals with the Devil to get that knowledge, and how man can move from one human experience to another without achieving full satisfaction. Ideas about a new intellectual movement had circulated for some time in continental Europe and drifted across the English Channel to the islands of Great Britain. The earliest Romantic writer was William Blake, who was a printer by trade and whose works transcended art and literature. In England however, it was William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s book of poetry, Lyrical Ballads in 1798 that established the mark of European Romanticism on the British Isles. From this small volume, the criteria for writing were established.
Romantic writers are concerned with nature, human feelings, compassion kind, freedom of the individual and Romantic hero, and rebellion against society. Writers also experiment with the discontent that they feel against all that seems commercial, inhuman, and standardized. Romantics often concern themselves with the rural and rustic life versus the modern life; far away places and travel to those places; medieval folklore and legends; and the common people.
Frankenstein exemplifies many movement that began in Western Europe during the late 1700s through the mid1800s. The characteristics of Romanticism include a focus on individual emotions, enthusiasm about the grandeur of the natural world, and a celebration of creativity and the figure of the artist. Mary Shelley’s life intersected with some of the most famous writers and thinkers of the Romantic period. She was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, a writer and intellectual who advocated for gender equality, and William Godwin, a polítical philosopher and novelist who was fascinated by questions of justice, rights, and social inequality. When she was just sixteen years old, Mary Shelley fell in love with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was passionate about writing bold and innovative literature that reflected his somewhat radical ideals of creativity, freedom, and equality. As a result of her family connections and relationship with Percy Shelley, Mary developed friendships with other famous Romantic writers, notably the poet Lord Byron.
The context of Romanticism influenced both the origin and content of Frankenstein. In the summer of 1816, Mary and Percy Shelley were travelling in Europe and spent time visiting Byron at his house in Switzerland. According to Mary Shelley’s introduction to the 1831 edition of the novel, the three writers devised a game to see who could invent the most terrifying ghost story. The author writes that that night she had a shocking dream about an inventor assembling a monster, and began writing the story that she would eventually expand into Frankenstein. Many of the trademarks of Romanticism are evident in the novel. Walton and Frankenstein are ambitious geniuses who are determined to live up to their destinies; while neither is an artist, both engage in works of ground-breaking creativity by pushing the limits of geography and science. The impact and beauty of the natural world, always significant to Romantic writers, play an important role in creating an appropriate setting for the novel’s dramatic events. The monster’s experience of coming into the world without any knowledge of social norms and behavjoral expectations reflects Romanticism’s curiosity about how innate human nature is gradually shaped by society and culture.
The monster is a Romantic hero because of the rejection he must bear from normal society. Wherever he goes, the monster is chased away because of his hideous appearance and his huge size. Shelley is attempting to show the readers how many people in conventional society reject the less than average or disfigured souls who live on the borders of our society. We cannot blame the monster for what happens to him, and Shelley elicits from the reader a sympathetic response for a creature so misunderstood. The monster tries to fit into a regular community, but because he is hideous to look at and does not know the social graces, he can never become part of mainstream society. The monster’s response is to overcompensate for his lack of learning and then shun all human contact except when necessary.
Mary Shelley knew many of the famous writers of the time or knew the works of those authors intimately: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, and her husband, Percy Shelley. Mary uses Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner several times in her novel to align her misguided monster with Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner. Thus, she ties her novel to one of the most authentically Romantic works.
The influence of her husband cannot be disputed and is sometimes the subject of debate among literary scholars. How much did Percy Shelley influence the novel that his wife wrote? Some argue that Percy Shelley wrote the novel under Mary’s name; others claim that he had a direct influence upon the writing of the book; while others maintain that Mary was the sole author, with some encouragement from Percy. Nevertheless, the novel was a work that was the product of an obviously fertile mind this viewpoint, Frankenstein is the pinnacle of Romantic thought and novel writing.
10. Q. Throughout the novel, Frankenstein refers to his According to the ancient Greeks, a dæmon is a mystical being that is neither human nor god but somewhere in between. In popular fiction, the term de scribes an animal that is the manifestation of a person’s soul, often showcasing the person’s dark side. Using these definitions, how has Victor’s language influenced your perception of his creature? Has his negative language regardinfluenced your perception of Victor?
Q. How do judge the character of the Monster? Is it a creature persona?
Many people who’ve never read Frankenstein know of Victor as one of the most famous monsters in literary history. Adaptations of the novel have contributed to this misinterpretation by portraying the monster as a horrifying character who provokes fear. However, part of what makes Mary Shelley’s novel such an impressive accomplishment is her ability to portray the monster as multi-dimensional and complex. The monster is responsible for many violent actions throughout the novel. He is also legitimately frightening and grotesque because of his enormous size and composition from parts taken from corpses. At the same time, the monster encounters persistent rejection and loneliness. He struggles to find a sense of family and community, and is rejected by everyone he comes in contact with. The rejection and alienation he experiences explain his violent behavior, even if they do not justify it, so that he can be a sympathetic figure in the novel.
Because readers are first introduced to the monster from Frankenstein’s the monster is portrayed as grotesque and disgusting, with “watery eyes … his shriveled complexion and straight black lips.” Readers will understand why Victor Frankenstein recoils in horror. When the monster encounters Felix, Safie, and Agatha, all three characters are immediately terrified, even though the monster is simply talking peacefully with Mr. De Lacey. These characters are not entirely wrong in being fearful: the monster’s size and supernatural strength makes him easily capable of harming others. As he says when describing his reaction to Felix striking him, “I could have torn him limb from limb.” Over the course of the novel, the monster kills first little William, then Henry Clerval, and finally Elizabeth. The murders are particularly heinous because all three characters are positioned as extremely sweet and kind, and both William and Elizabeth are relatively defenseless.
However, when the monster tells his own story, the reader sees him from a perspective. From the first days of his life he has been alone, with no one to help him or provide him with basic necessities like food and shelter. During the monster’s early days in the forest, he shows sensitivity and an appreciation for the beauty and nature when he notices the songs of birds, and he leads a compassionate and humble life by living off of nuts and berries rather than hunting for meat. Moreover, the monster is deeply drawn to the loving family dynamic he observes in the De Lacey household. He tries to model his behavior to reflect their kindness and consideration; for example, once he realizes the family is struggling with having enough food, “I abstained (from taking their food) and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots.” Not only does he seem capable of kindness, the monster is intellectually curious, eager to learn language and an enthusiastic and appreciative reader.
Despite these signals that the monster possesses humanity and the possibility of goodness, he is rejected by everyone he reaches out to. Whenever the monster encounters a human being, the person faints or runs away in terror. He can barely convince Frankenstein, his own creator, to listen to him. Frankenstein also betrays the monster by breaking his promise to create a mate for him. The monster comes to realize that no one will ever look past his exterior to see who he is underneath. As a result , he uses violence to make Victor Frankenstein share the pain he is feeling. By killing those whom Frankenstein loves the most, the monster tries to show him what it is like to be completely alone in the world. While these crimes are inexcusable, the connection to the monster’s wasted potential makes him much more sympathetic. The novel’s ending suggests that lack of human companionship and sympathy might turn even the most humane being into something monstrous.
11. Victor Frankenstein regularly bemoans that fate contributes to the outcome of his experiences. Is fate really involved, or is Victor avoiding taking the blame for his own actions? To what extent are we responsible for our own lives and actions?
Q. What is Frankenstein? Does the tension to any victory? Why or why not?
The major conflict in Frankenstein revolves around Victor’s inability to understand that his actions have repercussions. Victor focuses solely on his own goals and fails to see how his actions might impact other individuals. The monster functions as the most stark reminder of how Victor has failed to take responsibility for his actions in defying the laws of nature. The first signs of the conflict appear when Victor throws himself into his studies at the University of Ingolstadt, neglecting his family and fiancée. The conflict deepens when, having “succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life,” Victor becomes obsessed with creating a monster. He does not stop to think about what the experiences of that monster might be like, nor is he fazed by the fact that he ignores his family to pursue his work. He is so obsessed with his ambition that he does not consider anything else. The rising action of his reckless quest to create life comes to a peak when, immediately after animating the monster, he reacts with horror and disgust and runs from the room. This incident illustrates the conflict between Victor and moral responsibility: he has been responsible for making the monster and bringing him to life, but when he doesn’t like the result, he simply rejects it.
The tension increases when Victor learns of the death of his brother William and the false accusation against Justine. The murder creates another situation in which Victor can choose to act, or fail to take responsibility. He heightens the conflict by allowing Justine to be executed, rather than disclosing what he knows about the monster. The conflict is heightened further when the monster meets up with Victor amidst the mountain peaks and tells him the story of all the suffering he has experienced, as well as his loneliness and alienation. The meeting between the monster and his creator is another moment where Victor could potentially tum away from his selfish path. gests potential resolution when Victor reluctantly agrees to fashion a mate for the monster in exchange for the two of them going somewhere remote.
However, the conflict is reignited when Victor is too disgusted and destroys the female monster before completing it. Yet again, he doesn’t think about what this reckless choice will mean, even though the monster vows revenge. Victor is genuinely surprised when his friend Henry Clerval is killed, and then again when his fiancé Elizabeth is also murdered, despite the monster’s explicit statements that he is now dedicated to making Victor’s life a living hell by depriving him of everyone he loves. The murder of Elizabeth shifts the conflict into its final stage, in which Victor vows to hunt down and kill the monster in revenge for all of the deaths. This vow partially resolves the conflict in that it gives the monster what he wants: he now has the total attention the fates of the two individuals are interlocked. Arctic and of his creator, and After Victor pursues the monster around the world, he arrives in the encounters Walton, bringing the story full-circle back the point at which the narration switched from Walton to Victor. Victor’s travels have exhausted him so much that he died aboard the ship after relaying his tale, his role in the story fulfilled. The novel climaxes with Walton finding the monster in the room, gazing at Victor’s dead body and weeping. Victor never acknowledges the role he played in creating the chaos and tragedy that resulted in the deaths of several innocent people, as well as the torment of his creation. Unlike Victor, the monster expresses remorse and self-loathing, suggesting that he ultimately has become more “human” than his creator. Walton finally gets to see and hear the monster from his own perspective, and he is able to feel “a mixture of curiosity and compassion.” The falling action of the novel quickly concludes with the monster explaining his plan to kill himself, then setting off alone to carry out his plan.
12. Q. Gender roles are an underlying theme throughout the book. Most women are domestic, often taking care of the children of the family and waiting for their betrothed to return home. How would the story be different if Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein’s love, created the monster instead? Might she have been a better role model, maybe even maternal, towards her as she is towards Victor’s siblings?
Q. Discuss the role of female present directly or indirectly in the Frankenstein.
The representation of women and female experience is scarce in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, first published in 1818. However, this was a time where female authors emerged and tried to take a stand against patriarchal society and its male dominated and oriented structure. The patriarchal structure defined both society and the family – public and private spheres. As Johanna M. Smith notes in her essay, “Cooped up’: Feminine Domesticity in Frankenstein”, it was a period in which a woman “was conditioned to think she needed a man’s help”(Smith 275)3 . In actuality, Mary Shelley conformed to this “norm” when she wrote her own Introduction to Frankenstein in the 1831 edition, where she tried to excuse and explain how she, then a young girl, could imagine such a ‘hideous’ story. Furthermore, she disclaimed her own writing by saying that she imitated others before her: “My dreams were at once more fantastic and agreeable than my writings. In the latter I was a close imitator rather doing as others had done, than putting down the suggestion of my own mind
” (Shelley, 1993: 1). She also described that Percy was “[…] very anxious that I should prove myself worthy of my parentage, and enrol myself on the page of fame” [Sic] (Shelley, 1993: 2). Which expresses Percy’s admiration for Mary Shelley’s parents (especially William Godwin) rather than for her, since he clearly doubted that she would be able to live up to their talents and legacy. That Percy wanted to control Mary Shelley’s writing, so that she would not bring ‘shame’ to her name, can be seen in the lines following the former quote: “At this time he desired that I should write, not so much with the idea that I could produce anything worthy of notice, but that he might himself judge how far I possessed the promise of better things hereafter” (Shelley, 1993: 2). Not only does this establish his talent as above hers, it also makes him the rightful judge of her writings. Finally , Mary Shelley surrendered herself to the ideal of the proper lady, devoted to her family at the cost of own identity and aspirations, when she claimed that literary reputation, which she had once desired, was now “infinitely indifferent to her since family had become her main concern (Shelley, 1993: 2). The only literary employment she engaged herself with hereafter was reading and “improving” her ideas in communication with Percy who had a “far more cultivated mind” (Shelley, 1993: 2). Thus, her Introduction can be seen as promoting Percy and his involvement in the creation of Frankenstein. At the same time, she reduces her own role by suggesting that the development of the story was almost out of her hands: “My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie” (Shelley, 1993: 4). In this context, it becomes problematic to advocate that Frankenstein has an underlying feministic message since Mary Shelley appears so apologetic and defensive (Mellor, 1989: 55): “I am very averse to bringing myself forward in print”; “I can scarcely accuse myself of a personal intrusion”; “Shelley [Percy] urged me to develop the idea at greater length”; “once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper” (Shelley, 1993 It : 1, 5). seems that the daughter of such distinct parents should follow in their footsteps or at least try to voice her mother’s beliefs in women’s rights to be treated as equals to men in society and their right to education. However in Frankenstein, Mary Shelley chose to write from three different perspectives, using three narrators all male. The women are represented, solely, through the male gaze and perception. They are described in little detail which inevitably reduces their importance in the story (not only the action but the meaning) and as such they function as tools, created to reflect the male characters. Johanna M. Smith states that the “women function not in their own right but rather as signals of and conduits for men’s relations with other men”(283).5 This can be applied to the role that Walton’s sister plays in the mediating of his admiration and affection towards Victor Frankenstein, a friendship that is described to the reader through the mail correspondence between Walton and his sister, but that is all she is in the story, a tool of communication.
The contrast between the male and female characters in Frankenstein is tremendous and very clear; the male characters are described in great detail, the reader is even inaugurated into the mindset of the narrators and most importantly, they have voices– they can use to tell their stories with. The men of the story of traveling and exploring the world through actual travelling and through knowledge – something the women are excluded from due to their roles as passive tools in the representation of the male characters. That the male characters are described in greater detail resound Wollstonecraft’s critique on the matter: “(…) virtuous male characters were allowed to be of many temperaments, choleric or sanguine, gay or grave, overbearing or submissive – but all women are to be leveled, by meekness and docility, into of yielding softness and gentle compliance”. ,
The question that emerges is, then, why Mary Shelley excluded female almost entirely, from her story, and, furthermore, why she chose a stereotyped version of women, created by male authors, to describe the few women that are presented in the story. In extension to this, the meaning and purpose of Mary Shelley’s non misrepresentation of women can be seen as an act of subduing to the patriarchal discourse of literature and societal ideals, or it can be interpreted as a critique of that system.
The critique becomes evident with the ending consequences of Victor’s intrusion of nature by attempting procreation with no female interference. It can be argued that Mary Shelley chose not to describe female experience exactly because the already established literary discourse did not allow representation of real (as opposed to idealized or demonized) women. An example of a man describing female experience Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto where women are fully represented and are also allowed voices. However, when they talk it is almost entirely with a ‘male voice? This means that they say what men expect them to say as the idealized, devoted daughters, wives, and mothers: they declare their obedience to their male ‘protector, do as he pleases, and other than that they talk about love and family . So by minimizing the female characters Frankenstein, Mary Shelley made a silent protest against this stereotyped language about women in literature. , the ‘creation of women is seen in the chosen representation of that are of the story.
In Frankenstein these women: through the male perception and description. The adjectives applied to the women’s persona (the goodness and idealization of Victor’s mother for example) are produced by the male narrators. Laura Riding also comments on the problem of the incomplete identities afforded to women. They were not perceived in their totality as individuals and as women but rather as fragmentations of the ideal, hence, the metaphor of ‘rooms’ and not as an entity and therefore not a complete person. Only the woman herself was able to perceive all of the qualities and nuances that she possessed. There is a possibility that Mary Shelley feared to represent women (including herself) as they really were, rather than how men represented them, because the representations would deviate so entirely from the male authors’ descriptions and thus endanger her authenticity.
13. Q. How has Mary Shelley ended her gothic novel Frankenstein?
Victor Frankenstein dies wishing that he could destroy Monster he created. The Monster visits Frankenstein’s body. He tells Walton that he regrets the murders he has committed and that he intends to commit suicide. Frankenstein’s death suggests that he has not learned much from his own story. He causes his final collapse by trying to continue his pursuit of the Monster: “You may give up your purpose, but mine is assigned to me by Heaven, and I dare not.” Frankenstein begins the story driven and ambitious to create the Monster, and at the end of the novel he remains driven and ambitious in his quest to destroy the Monster. With his final words, Frankenstein even takes back his earlier warning about the dangers of too much ambition: “Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed.”
By contrast, the Monster demonstrates that he has learned a great deal over the course of the book. He has outgrown anger, envy and vengefulness. He regrets what he has done. While Frankenstein dies feeling disturbed that the Monster is still alive, the Monster is reconciled to death: so much so that he intends to commit suicide. The Monster’s decision to kill himself also confirms the importance of companionship. He recognizes that with Frankenstein dead, he is alone in the world, and he believes that without a companion there is no point in living. For some readers, the fact that the Monster grows and changes while Frankenstein continues in his destructive behavior to the end suggests that Frankenstein is the villain of the novel and bears ultimate responsibility for everything that has happened. However, other readers have pointed out that Walton doesn’t actually see the Monster kill himself. We know that the Monster is clever and persuasive: it’s possible that he announces his intention to kill himself so that Walton won’t pursue him.
14. Victor and His Creation ‘Frankenstein’ does it mean to be a monster? Who is the real monster in Frankenstein? Is Victor, the well-intentioned yet troubled scientist, a monster? Or is his creation the monster? Are they both monsters in their own ways?
Q. Frankenstein is often used as an example of ethical vs. unethical scientific/medical procedure. Do you think that the way that Victor created his creature was ethical? Unethical? Should Victor have made his creature at all? Explain.
Q. Compare and contrast Victor and his creation Frankenstein.
Generally, it is through Victor’s relationship with, and treatment of the creature that his egotistical and callous sides are evident. He is very insensitive towards the creature’s situation, and at first, he is not even interested in hearing the creature’s story; until, of course, he can see a personal interest (Victor does not know for sure at this point whether was the creature who murdered William, and he wants to get his suspicions affirmed or refuted – he wants to know if he is right). Until this situation, Victor has spent every minute of his account to describe how wretched the creature was and how much he loathed even the sight of him from the very beginning: “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?”, “[…] breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley, 1993: 45). –
Unable to comprehend his actions and his own a recurrent reaction pattern. That Victor flees when he observes the creature is also an expression of his narcissistic personality; several critics (Jansson, Mellor) have analysed the creature to be Victor’s ‘double, so when Victor sees the monstrosity of his ‘double’ , it does not correspond with his expectations and self-perception, and he must escape. Joseph Kestner in Frankenstein, edited by Fred Botting, suggests that it is, in fact, Victor’s self-absorption that has led him to create the creature: “Victor Frankenstein’s evident longing for another, despite his close friendship with Henry Clerval and his betrothal to Elizabeth, leads to a creation of a being who becomes the Inadequate Other which is in reality Victor himself” (Kestner quoted in Botting, 1995: 69).
But to retum to his reaction when the creature is brought the beautiful features that Victor had selected have been lost in the process, and the creature, therefore, does not live up to Victor’s ambitions and expectations. The creature is a ‘catastrophe’ in Victor’s own words, and even though it is Victor who is the creator, he seems to blame the creature for this dreadful outcome. Furthermore, Victor only focuses on his own emotions without taking the creature into consideration, and he thus excludes the creature from his own “birth” and refuses him an opinion. Victor’s description of his painful labours of creation is a reference to the female act of giving birth and reinstates Victor as the creator and father of the creature. But that he should have used care’ in the creating process is not entirely true, since he made decisions that were irresponsible, and which can be seen as partially accountable for the outcome.
After a while, Victor returns, and after a morbid dream mother, he finds the creature in his room: “[…] as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch – the miserable monster whom I had created” (Shelley, 1993: 46). The creature’s behaviour is described as those of a child’s: “He held up the curtain of the bed. […] His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks” (Shelley, 1993: 46). The creature is clearly looking for affection and affirmation from Victor, as any child would on seeing its parent for the first time. Mary Shelley’s description of the creature as innocent and infantile creates a feeling of sympathy for the creature, and Victor’s rejection and uncaring treatment becomes evident. Furthermore, when the creature is seemingly trying to attain physical contact with Victor, most likely a hug, Victor perceives it as an act of violence towards him: “[…] one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped, and rushed downstairs“ (Shelley, 1993: 46). Again, Victor displays his self-absorption and lack of empathy by misreading the creature’s intentions and subsequently flees; abandoning the creature a second time.
The narrative at the centre of the novel belongs to the creature. This is his chance to explain himself and his actions to Victor and the reader. He does so with such eloquence and sympathy that it is impossible not to feel sorry for him, and his criminal actions become somewhat excusable. He has trouble remembering his creation, and this is described as a metaphorical vehicle used deliberately by Mary Shelley to symbolize the lack of female writers in the history of literature: “[…] what all these characters and their really fear they have forgotten is precisely that aspect of their lives which has been kept from them by patriarchal poetics : their matrilineal heritage of literary strength, their “female power”” (Gubar and Gilbert, 2000: 59). So, unlike Victor and Walton, the creature, or at least aspects of his narration, can be read as identifying with Mary Shelley and female experience. Besides from not remembering much from the original era of his being’, the creature does not know language or how to make use of his senses. He has to start from ‘scratch’, just like female writers had to; searching for someone to lean up against and to learn from. Another aspect of the creature’s life that can be paralleled to female experience is the prejudice that he encounters by society based solely on his appearance, and not his eloquence or benevolence. He is never allowed to speak because he is met with fear, disgust and expectations of an evil mind. Women at this time were, perhaps, not met with disgust but most certainly fear. The male society and male authors feared intellectual women, who were seen as devilish (like the creature), because they feared they would ríot and subsequently seize power (the same fear that drove Victor to destroy his half-created female creature (Shelley,
15. Q. Write a critical account or note on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Frankenstein was first published in 1818 by an anonymous author. It was reprinted in 1823, but it was not until the revised third edition in 1832 that Mary Shelley was acknowledged as the author. As the quotation above suggests, this is not a simple story with a straight-forward interpretation. It is a story with many aspects and layers, some more transparent than others. At first glance, Frankenstein is a story designed to scare and shock its readers, and as such, it fits into the description given by Mary Shelley its origins in a ghost-story contest. But a closer look, and a second reading, reveals its deep roots in a mind frustrated with her egotistical husband, but also with a patriarchal society where women had limited possibilities in comparison to their, what was supposed to be, male equals. Already two different interpretations present themselves: one which reads Frankenstein as a personal insurrection and critique of the author’s life and circumstance, with a focus on lack of parental love and egotistical male figures, and another which reads the novel as a public critique of the patriarchal society and its shortcomings with a focus on the roles assigned to men and women. That it can be read as a critique of society and perhaps even as feminist criticism is also seen in the novel’s treatment of science; the different forms and its implications. The Industrial Revolution from the 18th century had promised new possibilities and groundbreaking technology which would lead mankind, and the world, to success. The novel’s handling of science can thus be seen as a warning in general terms, but can also be read as “A Feminist Critique of Science”, as a chapter is titled in Anne K. Mellor’s book, Mary Shelley: Her life, Her fiction, Her monsters.
Although humans have the tendency to set idealistic goals to better future generations, often the results can prove disastrous, even deadly. The tale of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, focuses on the outcome of one man’s idealistic motives and desires of dabbling with nature, which result in the creation of horrific creature. Victor Frankenstein was not doomed to failure from his initial desire to overstep the natural bounds of human knowledge. Rather, it was his poor parenting of his progeny that lead to his creation’s thirst for the vindication of his unjust life. In his is blinded, and so the creation accuses him for delivering him into a world where he could not ever be entirely received by the people who inhabit it. Not only failing to foresee his faulty idealism, nearing the end of the tale, he embarks upon a final journey, consciously choosing to pursue his creation in vengeance, while admitting he himself that it may result in his own doom. The creation of an unloved being and the quest for the elixir of life holds Victor Frankenstein more accountable for his own death than the creation himself. Delivered into the world, full grown and without a guardian to teach him the ways of the human world, the creation discovers that he is alone, but not without resource.
As Frankenstein recounts the situation, he says, I beheld the wretch- monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaw opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs (Shelley, p. 43). As Frankenstein explains, he declares that he deliberately neglects to communicate with his creation, based on its shockingly hideous appearance. Had Frankenstein taken the time to communicate and care for his creation, with all the knowledge that he possesses of the responsibility of a good parent, the creation would have never developed the sense of vindication and reprisal that lead him to murdering loved one’s.
The creation would henceforth account Frankenstein for all his his birth, Frankenstein’s first of numerous mistaken decisions ill-fating his destiny relies greatly upon a lack of responsibility for the creation he so passionately brings to life in the early chapters of his tale. From his very first words, Victor claims to have been born to two indefatigably affectionate parents in an environment of abundant knowledge. As he speaks of his parents, Frankenstein attempts to portray his fortunate upbringing, Much as they were attached to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me. My mother’s tender caresses and my father’s smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me are my first recollections.
By these recollections, Frankenstein illustrates his parents caregivers imaginable to any child, being granted all the vital tools of a responsible guardian as a result, which he neglects to utilize upon animating his creation. Frankenstein abandons his hideous child, feelings of vindication arise, and the creation kills members of his family for all the mental anguish that has been set upon him. In his idealism, Frankenstein is blinded and fails or is unable to foresee the dangerous outcome of his creation, giving life to a hideous being that could never be accepted in such a superficial world. As Frankenstein recounts the procedures of making his being, he admits himself that his idealism blinded his ability to foresee the drastic effects that might result in giving life to an unloved creature. No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onward like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success.
Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing these reflections, I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption (Shelley, p. 38-39). Frankenstein’s intent was to create a being unlike any other, superior to all human life and so he picked the most perfect body parts and beauteous features, all to be pieced together in great anticipation. However, the results are horrific and irreversible. Accusing Frankenstein of bringing him into a world where he could never be accepted, the creation realizes his creator’s faulty idealism. However , Frankenstein is unable to detect his idealistic blindness. In a conversation with Frankenstein, the creation explains, attempting to make him conceive the amount of mental anguish that has been brought upon him by giving him life, … instead of threatening, am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable.
You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me? You would not call it murder if you could precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts and destroy my frame, the work of you own hands (Shelley, p.130). In the creation’s loathsome words, he merely justifies that had Frankenstein not have been passionately immersed in the creation of a superior being, gigantic and repulsive as a result, all his sufferings would cease to exist. Longing for the attention that Frankenstein neglects to provide him with at his birth, the creation attempts to gain it by stalking and killing his loved ones. The creation does finally attain this attention as Frankenstein feels that he no longer has any reason to live but to seek revenge upon the being that has ultimately destroyed him.Upon hearing Frankenstein’s declarations of reprisal, the creation is delighted in finally receiving the attention that he neglected to provide to him at his birth. The creation challenges him in pursuing him and. replies, “I am satisfied miserable wretch! You have determined to live, and I am satisfied,” (Shelley, 186). Frankenstein initiates the conflict that would lead directly to his doom. Consciously choosing to pursue his creation, Frankenstein implores himself to seek reprisal upon him. Frankenstein vows that he will undertake the great task that is the pursuit of his creation. Although he may be enraged with vengeance and unrestrained anger, Frankenstein does admit that this pursuit may indeed result in his own he declares this vengeance, he says, By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by thee, O Night, and the spirits that preside over thee, to pursue the demon who caused this misery until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict. For this purpose I will preserve my life; to execute this dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread the green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes forever (Shelley, p. 186). Ultimately, in the end, this leads to Frankenstein’s demise even though he realizes that might, for the death of either his creation or himself will obliterate and relieve all the sufferings that he has been forced to endure. Frankenstein is the tale of a man doomed to failure and death for his desire play with nature. By creating a destructive being, in human form, that he cannot control, Victor Frankenstein brings about his own ruin.
Frankenstein neglects to take responsibility for his creation, abandoning him, resulting in the murder of his most loved ones as the creation’s revenge. In his idealism, Frankenstein is blinded and is unable to foresee the drastic effects of giving life to a being that could never be entirely accepted by human society, that further the creation’s vindictiveness. Lastly, consciously choosing to pursue his creation in vengeance, Frankenstein’s sufferings are finally obliterated, for he was well aware that it may lead to his ultimate doom. The creation of an unloved being and the search for a death cure hold Victor Frankenstein more responsible for his own demise than the creation himself.
– particuThe early nineteenth century was not a good time to be a female writer larly if one was audacious enough to be a female novelist. Contemporary beliefs held that no one would be willing to read the work of a woman; the fantastic success of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein served to thoroughly disprove this theory.
Frankenstein established Shelley as a woman of letters when such a thing was believed to be a contradiction in terms; only the reputation of Madame de Stael surpassed Shelley’s in Europe. De Stael, however, was more famous for continuing to publish her works despite the fact that the Emperor Napoleon had explicitly forbade her to do so, rather than for the quality of the works themselves.
Though Frankenstein is now customarily classified as a horror story (albeit the first and purest of its kind), it is interesting to note that Shelley’s contemporaries regarded it as a serious novel of ideas. It served as an illustration of many of the tenets of William Godwin’s philosophy, and did more to promote his ideas than his own work ever did. The novel does not, however, subscribe to all of Godwin’s precepts. It stands in explicit opposition to the idea that man can achieve perfection in fact, it argues that any attempt to attain perfection will ultimately end in ruin.
Frankenstein is part of the Gothic movement in literature, a form that was only just becoming popular in England at the time of its publication. The Gothic mode was a reaction against the humanistic, rationalist literature of The Age of Reason; one might say it was ushered in by the death of Keats, the English author with whom Romanticism is perhaps most closely associated. Frankenstein might be seen as a compromise between the Gothic approach and the Romantic one: it addresses serious philosophical subjects in a fantastical manner. Though it confronts recognizable human problems, it can hardly be said to take place in a recognizably natural world. Some critics have suggested that this tension between Gothic and Romantic literary modes echoes the philosophical tension that existed between herself and her husband, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
As the prejudice against women writers was quite strong, Shelley determined to publish the first edition anonymously. Despite this fact, the novel’s unprecedented success paved the way for some of the most prominent women writers of the nineteenth century, including George Eliot, George Sand, and the Bronte sisters. All of them owed Mary a tremendous literary debt. Without the pioneering work of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, a great many female authors might never have taken up their pens; they might never have felt free to exhibit dark imagination, nor to engage in philosophical reflection. Without her, and the women whose work she made possible, English literature would be unquestionably the poorer.