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Self-discovery, Destruction, and Preservation in Frankenstein

Powerful Essays
Self-discovery, Destruction, and Preservation in Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein explores the downfall of certain human characteristics, set to the backdrop of creation, destruction, and preservation. The subtitle denoted by Shelly herself supports this idea, by relating the fact that the title can be viewed as either Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. One scholar, Marilyn Butler, also maintains this by noting, "It can be a late version of the Faust Myth"(302). Shelly uses the story of the main character, Victor Frankenstein, to produce the concept of a dooming human characteristic of which Frankenstein states, "I have . . . been blasted in these hopes"(Shelley, 152). The reader finds, as a result of his thirst for knowledge and infatuation with science, Victor creates a living being by whom he has "suffered great and unparalleled misfortunes"(Shelley, 17). Eventually, Victor realizes this self-destructive trait, but he is not able to save himself stating, "I have lost everything, and cannot begin life anew"(Shelley, 16). Although everything in his life that is dear has been lost, Victor is able to convince one in his same position--Robert Walton--to not "lead [his crew] unwillingly to danger"(Shelley, 151). While addressing the concept of characteristic and self-discovery, it is possible to realize that the monster also possesses the characteristics held by both Victor and Walton; except in his learning, the monster is driven to continue to cause destruction. Most important about the thirst for knowledge is that, as a form of human characteristic or downfall, it leads to large, critical pieces of self-discovery. In obtaining these critical pieces, Frankenstein finds satisfaction in j...

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...s Frankenstein. New Haven Yale University Press, 1998.

Butler, Marilyn. "Frankenstein and Radical Science." Reprinted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Norton Critical Edition. 1993; New York: W. W. Norton, 1996. 302-313.

Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. "Mary Shelley's Monstrous Eve." Reprinted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Norton Critical Edition. 1979; New York: W. W. Norton, 1996. 225-240.

Moers, Ellen. "Female Gothic: The Monster's Mother." Reprinted in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Norton Critical Edition. 1976; New York: W. W. Norton, 1996. 214-224.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Norton Critical Edition. 1818; New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.

Storment, Suzanna. "Frankenstein: The Man and the Monster." Commentary page. October 2002. Washington State University. 8 April 2003. http://www.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/frank.comment3.html.
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