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Victor Frankenstein’s Obsession in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Essay

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The most prevalent theme in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is that of obsession. Throughout the novel there are constant reminders of the struggles that Victor Frankenstein and his monster have endured. Many of their problems are brought upon by themselves by an obsessive drive for knowledge, secrecy, fear, and ultimately revenge.
From the onset of Victor’s youth, his earliest memories are those of “Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember” (ch. 4) This is the first example of obsession that we see in the novel. This drive to learn the ‘hidden’ laws of nature is the original driving force that sets the plot in motion. Without this, Victor would have never embarked on his unholy quest to overcome mortality, thus leading to his creation of his monster.
“Dr. Victor Frankenstein feels uncontrollably compelled to create animation in the lifeless body” (Storment) this obsession with the creation of life alienated him from his loved ones. His impending marriage to Elizabeth was one aspect of his life that he sacrificed. In chapter 22, Elizabeth writes to him “Tell me, dearest Victor. Answer me, I conjure you by our mutual happiness, with simple truth-- Do you not love another?” Elizabeth’s concern
about his faithfulness is based on his neglect of their relationship. He simply did not allow any other aspect of his life to impede his goal.
Victor Frankenstein is ultimately successful in his endeavor to create life. This, however, does not stop the underlying theme of obsession. Shelley’s shift from Victor’s never-ending quest for knowledge is replaced with an obsession of secrecy. “I had worked har...


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...his mental strength, taking its toll, leaving him incapacitated for months on end. The final compulsion to destroy his daemon takes him to the end of existence. Exhausted from his relentless pursuit, he dies without ever obtaining the closure that he was searching for. “Victor Frankenstein’s life was destroyed because of an obsession with the power to create life where none had been before” (Moring)

Shelley leaves us pondering the question, when does obsession cross the line into insanity?




Works Cited

Moring, Patrick. Who is the Monster? California State University, Northridge. n.d.Web. 31 Oct. 2014.

Storment, Suzanna. Frankenstein Commentary. Washington State University. n.d. Web.
31 Oct. 2014.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Page By Page Books. Read
Classic Books Online, Free. n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.




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