When reading a novel or watching a play, most people are deceived into believing that the plot is the most important element. Many people believe that the characters, setting, and situations simply exist to develop the plot. It can be argued, however, that the theme is the most important aspect of a given work, and that the plot exists merely to solidify the underlying messages that the author actually intends to communicate.
Theme is the most important element in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein. In this novel, Victor Frankenstein's passion for scientific progress leads to the birth of a horrific monster that, in turn, seeks revenge upon Victor and his family. This is simply the plot. This plot is used to develop the themes of the potential evil inherent in technological advancement, human prejudice, and the universal desire for love and acceptance.
The novel has deservedly been named "the first true work of science fiction," alluding to the inherent absurdity of the theme of the dangers in technological advancement ("Visions of the Future, 5). Moreover, since the novel's introduction in 1808, many writers of this genre have built gripping stories around scientific and technological capabilities and the consequences of misusing them. Nevertheless, in this instance, it is Victor Frankenstein's interest in natural philosophy and chemistry that compelled him to create life and thereby "play God."
In turn, Frankenstein's being, composed of rotted corpses, obviously causes incredible evil and the consequences to man's attempt to master life and death are made evident when, the monster counteracts man's...
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Goodall, Jane. "Frankenstein and the Reprobates Conscience." Studies in the Novel. Spring 1999: 19-44.
McKie, Robin. "The Week that Dolly Shook the World." Guardian Weekly. March 9, 1997: 7.
Mellor, Anne K. Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monster. New York: Methuen, 1988.
Patterson, Arthur Paul. A Frankenstein Study. http://www.watershed.winnipeg.mb.ca/Frankenstein.html
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Modern Library, 1984.
Smith, Christopher. Frankenstein as Prometheus. http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/class/sf/books/frank/papers/FrankCS.html
Spark, Muriel. Mary Shelly. New York: Dutton, 1987.
Williams, Bill. On Shelley's Use of Theme. http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/class/sf/books/frank/papers/FrankWJW.html
"Visions of the Future." Literary Cavalcade. January 2001: 5-6.
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