Shelly's "Frankenstein" and Milton's "Paradise Lost"

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Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein" narrates a story about a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, and his creation of a monster set apart from all worldly creatures. Frankenstein's creation parallels Milton's "Paradise Lost" and God's creation of man; Victor Frankenstein is symbolic of God and the monster is symbolic of Adam. The parallel emphasizes the moral limitations of mankind through Victor Frankenstein and the disjunction and correlation with "Paradise Lost". Shelly links the two stories together through Victor's creation of the monster and his "fall" from humanity which I will focus on initially. More importantly, the main divergence of the two works lies in the representation of God in "Paradise Lost" and Victor in "Frankenstein". Both the correlations and disjunctions prove three human moral limitations: omnipotence, ambition, and (in relating to Christianity) human imperfection. Furthermore, each limitation relates to the author's warning to humanity of our progression as a society.

In "Paradise Lost", God creates man; in Shelly's story, Victor Frankenstein creates monster. Early in Shelly's book, we find that Victor has found out how to generate life "upon lifeless matter" (27), akin to God's creation of man from dust: "he formed thee, Adam, thee, O Man, / Dust of the ground" (Milton 189). Victor's representation of himself as a father relates well to Milton's illustration of God as the "Almighty Father" (65) and even the monster relates his existence to adam, "Like Adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence" (Shelly 74). Lastly, as Adam and Eve fell in Paradise Lost when they ate from the tree of knowledge, the monster "falls"--"but sorrow only increased with knowledge" (Shelly 69). The ...

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...ilton's "Paradise Lost" to her advantage in this book. Drawing on Christian beliefs and a societal reverence for the epic gives "Frankenstein" a comparison that draws out moral limitations in our humanity. Although many moral limitations can be detected from each of the characters, the limitations I focused on were, in my belief, the most specific to Shelley's overall romantic and gothic state of reasoning. In this era, and even today, the thought of human limitation gives people a better understanding of our place in the world. The individual ego creates a dangerous place for many of us, a place Shelley describes through Victor Frankenstein's creation. Above all, I think Shelley's story relates human limitations and public progression to remind society that we have an obligation to remain in admiration of our creator, nature, and the miracle of our own existence.
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