Essay on Power in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

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Power is a defining feature of oneself for it provides meaning or substance to one’s internal being. Power allows a person to have control of his/her destiny; but without this spark of control one becomes lost in the sublime and unknown realities of life. In the novel Frankenstein, Victor defies the confinements of his restricted power and uses sublime nature as an extension of himself to regain control. With a "spark of electricity" he creates life from raw, uninhibited nature. Ironically, his desperate attempt to regain control through his creation ultimately creates chaos. Both "the creature" and Victor’s power become characterized by a tension between nature and nurture; therefore identifying each of their chaotic existence. The types of power which are represented by metaphors of fire in the novel, shed light on the nurturing power of familial bonds (hearth) and the uninhibited power of nature (wild chaotic fire). Therefore the presence of power as the existence of fire and the "domestic circle" represents the creation of an identity as the conflict between uncontrollable power and bounded/constrained power.
In the beginning Victor creates the creature to decipher his identity and gain a sense of power within the family circle. He struggles for a flame of power that is masked by the enclosed "domestic circle" that he has been accustomed to. This is demonstrated by the passage "Such was our domestic circle, from which care and pain seemed for ever banished" (24); the circle bounded Victor in a safe and secure domain. His carefully structured and secure reality was enclosed in a reciprocal nature prohibiting Victor from exploring the sublime qualities of life. His personal identity became hidden and could not be separated fr...

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...fe, comfort, and power to the creature in the end would be its demise.
Throughout the novel, it is apparent that Victor and the creature struggle to gain a sense of power and control in order to understand their chaotic existence. Power, which can take many shapes and forms, becomes the defining characteristics of the creature and Victor. Through the creature’s understanding and desire for the reciprocal power of familial bonds he aspires to destroy and diminish the power his creator possesses. In the "spark of being" from his creation, the creature becomes an uncontrollable fire exhibiting revenge and hatred. The creature’s misguided mission becomes fueled with a desire to destroy Victor’s "domestic circle." Ironically, the creature’s desire for a bounded domestic power leads him to his creator, Victor, which in the end the creature destroys leaving him powerless.

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