Analysis Of Mary Shelley 's ' Frankenstein ' Essay

Analysis Of Mary Shelley 's ' Frankenstein ' Essay

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The success of an apparently non-sexual reproduction, by a single parent, might invite parallels between Frankenstein and God, but the novel is always clear that Frankenstein never actually broaches the status of the Almighty. Even Frankenstein’s proclamation of being a ‘creator and source’ (80) is removed from the event; he must still ‘toil’ and ‘labour’ (81) through much ‘difficulty’ (80) and ‘fatigue’ (79) before his wishes become a reality. In comparison, God’s will is instantaneous and effortless – He simply has to speak to create. Furthermore, Frankenstein is not God since, as Lowe-Evans points out, God cannot be ‘complicit in his creation’s weakness’, nor ‘destroyed by what he creates’, nor be a ‘rebel’ – a role reserved for Satan and other sinners (27). Frankenstein aspires to ‘break’ the ‘ideal boundaries’ of ‘life and death’ (80) and in this sense, he is a quintessential overreacher and rebellious figure such as Satan in Paradise Lost or the archetype of Faust in literary tradition. However, unlike these ambitious predecessors, we do not see Frankenstein consider the consequence of his actions in light of divine judgment. In Milton’s epic, Satan ‘with ambitious aim’ opposes ‘the Monarchy of God’ and creates ‘impious war in Heaven’ (4). He also acknowledges, after his fall, that he ‘could repent’ but his ‘high thoughts’ of ‘pride and worse ambition’ would never allow him to (102). Thus, in Paradise Lost, Satan actively and deliberately challenges God and is clearly punished as a result, by becoming the very embodiment of hell; ‘I myself am hell’ (101). Likewise, in Doctor Faustus, Faustus consciously rebels against God, for instance, at the start of the play he bids ‘divinity adieu’ and rejects ‘Jerome’s Bible’ (Marlowe ...


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...he preface to Prometheus Unbound, Percy Shelley wrote that, even more than Satan in Paradise Lost, Prometheus is ‘the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature impelled by the purest and the truest motives’ (Works 98). Similarly, in his ode ‘Prometheus’, Byron champions the idea that ‘triumphant are those who dare defy’ and pursue creative works that will endure beyond themselves (Byron 223). Both these poems were written in the aftermath of disillusionment with the French Revolution. Therefore, while many writers shared in a generational disappointment with revolutionary ideals, as exemplified by Wordsworth’s play The Borderers, there were others who were more optimistic. The preface of Percy Shelley’s The Revolt of Islam, for example, explains that he hopes to inspire his readers with a ‘virtuous enthusiasm for those doctrines of liberty and justice’ (7).

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