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Life, Death, and Frankenstein Essay

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Life, Death, and Frankenstein


Since I spent last weekend in Vancouver attending the funeral of a beloved aunt who died on Good Friday, you could say that I've been pondering a lot about death and dying lately. It didn't help either that I chose to bring my copy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with me to read on the plane rides there and back, seeing as this story deals with the creation of a new form of life and the deaths that result from it. Being in this rather morbid frame of mind, I decided for this commentary just to take a closer examination of life and death as contained within the kind of gothic narrative of this early science-fiction horror story. It's almost like a Yin-Yang pairing between the two: Victor controls the ability to create Life (an ability that is usually looked on as being feminine) through his scientific and medical knowledge, and the Creature controls the ability to create Death (an ability usually looked on as being masculine) through his incredible strength and physical abilities. But although the Yin-Yang of Taoist thought brings harmony to the universe, this pairing of light and dark brings nothing but destruction to those it touches.


So, in Frankenstein, I suppose you could divide the death into two different categories, both centered around Victor: Life from Death, and Death from Life. "To examine the causes of life," Victor tells us through Captain Walton, "we must first have recourse to death." And so he does. After Victor discovers the secret to creating life (what it is we are never told, but if you're inclined to believe the various cinematic treatments of the story, it seems to involve lightening storms and complicated machines), he decides to put this to use and see if he can play...


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...ankenberry Cereal available for sale, with cartoonish pictures of Boris Karloff smiling on the front. While they may hold opposing powers of Life and Death respectively, in the end, it is as though neither of these two characters is left with any life between them. Everyone Victor has loved is dead because of the attacks inflicted by his creation. The Creature is not accepted by society because of the appearance given to him by his creator. Neither of them having anything left to live for; they engage in a chase up to the high Arctic where the Creature and the body of his creator disappear into the night. With each of them trying to out-manoeuvre the other, each destroys what his opposite desires the most. In this Life from Death, nothing can lead a true existence.

Works Cited:


Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein (1818 ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996.


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