Free Essays - Religious Motifs in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein


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Religious Motifs in Frankenstein

 

 

Upon completion of this novel, a clearly prevalent and outstanding motif is that of religion and biblical reference. The frequent references to religion come in varied forms from that of biblical role-playing, to that of the fate of our current society. Another related argument that occurs can be the relationship of biblical role-playing and character domination. When all are combined appropriately, a very strong and prominent key motif in this novel is produced. Mary Shelley might have used religion reference as a method of showing us how something that happened during the creation of the earth can be related and brought to us via modern day fantasy creations. It is important for us to realize this connection because it will help us to understand an important deeper meaning of this work.

 

The most important religious comparison in Frankenstein, are the outstanding similarities between Victor as God and the monster as Lucifer. This idea is proven by the monster in the quote where he states, " I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed." Broken down, this quote shows us that the monster feels that he is the neglected creation and that he has been created to be unhappy, although he has committed no wrongdoing, and he doesn't deserve to be mistreated by society. As it goes in the bible, God created Lucifer as the most brilliant and beautiful angel in the sky with good intentions, but Lucifer turned his back on his creator and began a notorious streak of evil as the "malignant devil." Now if the role of God is switched with that of Victor, and the role of Lucifer is switched with that of the monster, the story is retold in almost the same context. Now to prove that this is not just farfetched speculation, the monster even says in his quote that he ought to be Adam, God's successful creation, rather than the fallen angel (Lucifer). Among other quotes in which the monster deigns Victor as [his] creator, this is a powerful novel reference and this quote beautifully shows the direct motif of religious role-playing in Frankenstein.

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Power is another key element used by Mary Shelley in her novel, which helps us even more to uncover the aforementioned biblical relationships. During the first stages of Victor's alive creation, Victor obviously held all the cards due to the fact that the monster had no idea what was happening. However, as time went on, the monsters physical and mental capabilities gave him advantages over Victor and soon enough, he had more power than Victor. The power that the monster retained over Victor wasn't only physical though. During the monsters' fits of anger and rage, his murders emotionally distressed Victor. The murders that were committed close to home were obviously hard-hitting, but the ones to strangers must have given Victor a horrible, "negative" anxiety that somebody would find out that he was indeed the mastermind behind this heinous murderer. Power relates to the motif of religious role-playing because the same "power-swap" occurred in the biblical story of Lucifer's betrayal to God.

 

From a different aspect, Mary Shelley may in fact be trying to say something about God and the devil using Victor and the monster rather than the obvious other way around. By having Victor be a mad scientist who creates a demonic creature who soon goes mad as well and eventually murders its creator, Mary Shelley might want her intentive audience to pick up another aspect of society. By the monster(evil) overtaking its creator(good), in a way it forecasts the overtaking of good by evil. Mary Shelley was surrounded by death as a youngster and she may have regarded these deaths as the fall of her humanity. She may have also been subjected to hardships in her society with brought her to believe that society was destined for doom. The surrounding evil overtaking good has a direct religious correlation to the main religious motif in this book and society in the eyes of Mary Shelley.

 

Religious motifs are very present in this novel scattered everywhere. From biblical role-playing to society to power disposition, religious themes are a more-than-abundant source of meaning in Frankenstein.

 

 

 


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