Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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In Frankenstein, Shelley describes Walton’s perception of Victor’s perilous adventure to eliminate his life-threatening creation. In accounting Frankenstein’s journey, she adds a cautionary message to society by illustrating the devastating consequences of scientific inquiry and the overall acquirement of knowledge. She uses both Victor and Walton as examples of men attempting to exceed human limits. From Victor’s initial “success” with reanimation, his creation ultimately symbolizes the unpredictability of unrestricted experimentation. His creation throws him into multiple depressions and Victor struggles to maintain a stable life. In the end, Walton considers Victor’s demise from a disastrous appetite for “nature’s secrets” as a lesson for his own conquest for glory and knowledge. In this, Shelley uses Frankenstein to warn society about its further audacity in pushing boundaries to uncomfortable limits.

In the beginning, Shelley uses foreshadowing to allude to Victor’s ultimate demise due to his unrestricted curiosity. In describing his own childhood, Victor keeps referring to his imminent doom: his interest in science which he describes as “the fatal impulse that led to [his] ruin” (Shelley, 39). Victor’s recollection, although filled with joy from his happier past, emphasizes the tragedies in order to forebode a future disaster. Additionally, his stress on fate and destiny remind the reader of the inevitable outcome; however, it also alludes to Victor’s attempt to challenge his responsibility of his own actions. When he finally decides to study chemistry, in retrospect, Victor blames his choice that day as the day that “decided [his] future destiny” (Shelley, 48). He blames destiny for his current misery, not his own ac...

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...a groundbreaking discovery and ruins Victor’s life.

In Frankenstein, Shelley chronicles radical scientist Victor Frankenstein’s journey from the birth of his creation to his protracted destruction. Upon further analysis, this “horror story” forebodes the dangers of attaining unknowable knowledge. After listening to Victor’s message, Walton abandons his goal to explore the uncharted and returns to England with unaccomplished dreams. With a surplus of information, at what point do the facts replace the human connection? At what point must science consider the ethical consequences of future innovations. Who is to blame for accidental ramifications: the scientist or the science? In an era of genetic engineering and bionics, the story’s message could not be more relevant.


Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: New American Library, 1978. Print.
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