Victor Frankenstein Tragic Bones Essay

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The Tragic Bones
Danielle Conforti
University of Missouri Kansas City

The Tragic Bones
In Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant and passionate scientist, seems to be in constant conflict with his own mind and his own creation. The internal and external struggles he suffers are due to the battle between his five bones—desire (knowledge), fear (failure), strength (persistence), weakness (egotism), and action (hunt for revenge). Frankenstein’s five bones help to define him as a tragic hero; a character (normally a protagonist) who makes errors in judgment that inescapably leads to his own demise. Despite the struggles, Frankenstein seems to persevere as he pursues his creation in an attempt to right his mistakes until his eventual death. Ultimately, through his failed efforts to destroy his own creation (the monster), Frankenstein evolves convincingly into a tragic hero.
Victor Frankenstein’s quizzical nature, which began when he was a child, initiated his eventual downfall. Frankenstein’s greatest desire, his inquisition for knowledge, is the same quality found in a tragic hero whose aspiration for nobility and high status feeds the tendency for excellence. In the commencing of the novel, it states that Frankenstein’s concentration was not on juvenile curiosities, but toward education and learning (28). Around this time, Victor Frankenstein stumbled across a volume of Cornelius Agrippa’s books, a renowned alchemist, and it was from his work that Victor’s interest in philosophy was born. From these rather advanced interests, Frankenstein decided to attempt to play God and create life, stating:
“…I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the dee...

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...e that his creation may be, in fact, a monster, not just a creation. Frankenstein, throughout the entire novel, has free will and it was his foreseeable decision to go through with his efforts. Although his creation goes rogue, Frankenstein’s retribution far exceeds his “crime” committed. He did not deserve to lose so many family members and friends as well as his own life. Frankenstein portrays human beings as both ambitious and fallible. Victor’s dream of altering society through his creation of a new life form is tainted by his desire for glory, making his ambitions fallible by ignoring the consequences, exemplifying the characteristics of a tragic hero. Victor so badly desires to become “a creator,” but disappoints his own monster when he is unable to fulfill his responsibilities as a creator, ultimately, leading to his own death and the death of his creation.

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