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The Roles of Victor Frankenstein and The Monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has thrilled readers for two centuries, whether for the enthralling mad scientist, creation gone amok, or simply the mythical aspect of creating life from lifeless matter. Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a student attending university who becomes consumed by an experiment. But this is no ordinary experiment; Frankenstein believes that he has found the secret to life. For months, he enthusiastically works in secrecy on his experiment, an attempt to create a being composed of parts stolen from corpses. When he finally succeeds at bringing his creature to life, he runs from the creature, sickened and horrified by what he has created, leaving the creature to wander the countryside. Paul Sherwin accurately describes the events that follow as “one catastrophe after another” (qtd. in Soyka). Frankenstein is the story of a secret experiment gone amok and the interminable effects this experiment has on Frankenstein’s life. Throughout the book, Victor Frankenstein acts the part of the modern Prometheus, God the creator, and cursed Satan, while the Monster takes the roles of innocent Adam and Satan the avenger.

According to “Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley,” Mary Shelley’s parents were two of the most eminent and revolutionary thinkers of their time. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a radical feminist who authored A Vindication of the Rights of Women while her father, William Godwin, was a radical political theorist who authored Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Caleb Williams (“Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley” 3202). According to Carol Adams, Douglas Buchanan, and Kelly Gesch in The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Frankenstein, Mary’s parents “had entered the politiciz...

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Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Bantam Dell, 2003. Print.

Small, Christopher. “The Monster Modeled on Milton’s Adam.” Readings on Frankenstein. Ed. Don Nardo. San Diego: Greenhaven, 2000. Print.

Soyka, David. “Frankenstein and the Miltonic Creation of Evil.” English.upenn.edu. University of Pennsylvania English Department. 1992. Web. 20 Sept. 2011.

Tropp, Martin. “The Monster.” Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations: Frankenstein, Updated Edition. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 2007. Print.
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