In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, the author employ’s several different themes to suggest a tone of tragedy. Those include abandonment, tragic flaw, and the punishment exceeds the crime. The two main characters, Victor Frankenstein and his monster, are deemed as tragic heroes in Shelly’s novel. Webster defines a hero as “a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.” Frankenstein and his monster each have their own levels of tragedy. Shelly also supplies each character with flaws and imperfections. The punishments for creating the monster are greatly harsher than the crime of creating it.
Abandonment is the first main theme in the novel. Abandonment is defined as “to give up completely and to desert”(Webster 1). Both Frankenstein and his creation go through several different episodes of abandonment. Frankenstein abandons his family, his creation, and his homeland. The monster abandons his non-evil state of mind, and then society. Young Victor abandons his monster because of its wretchedness. What began as a man ends up a mockery, and a “hideous being of gigantic structure”(Tropp 62). Victor barely even thinks twice about leaving his creation. The shear ugliness of it took over all thought of whether it could be good or evil or if it needed anything. The monster had “no father [to watch his] infant days” and, “no mother to bless [him] with smiles”(87). The monster was a “poor, helpless, miserable wretch,” with no one to turn to (72). When the creation woke up Victor instantly left the building. The creator never saw his creation after that until he was detained by it. The creation was left to “struggle with a child’s blindness, added to a student’s thirst for knowledge” (23).
Frankenstein’s next episode of abandonment tears him away from his family. Victor leaves home to go study at college. In the mean time his family and his beloved Elizabeth got left out of his priorities. He wished to exert “his own selfhood” over others (Walling 45). Frankenstein, “so deeply engraved in [his] occupation,” never ceased to think about his family. He thought only of himself and how to command the powers of life as he worked so diligently on his creation and studies. He misses seven years of his family’s life in consequence to his actions. ...
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...to be destroyed by it (Tropp 56). Frankenstein shows to depart from “ his dream of becoming godlike in direct proportion to his failure to love” his family and his work (Walling 45).
The monster has flaws man cannot have or posses. The monster is demonic and Satan-like. He is the “monstrous double of Lucifer” (Tropp 68). The monster turned from archangel to arch destroyer.
“In Paradise lost, after the meeting a Pandemonium, Satan decides to fly to earth and inspect gods latest creation. Taking the form of a cormorant, he perches on a tree in Eden and secretly observes Adam and Eve in the garden. After the monster has left the shepherd’s hut, traveled to a village, and been driven out in a hail of stones, it hides in a hovel where it can secretly observe the lines of a noble family reduced to poverty” (Tropp 72-73).
This passage tells how the life of Satan and the monster are parallel. When the monster “reflected that they had spurned and deserted me anger returned” (101). Satan feels the same type of torment as he spies on Adam and Eve. The interplay of Frankenstein/Monster is somewhat like the relationship between Lucifer/Satan.
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