In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein’s life story is the heart of the tale. As a young Swiss boy, he grew up in Geneva reading the works of the ancient and outdated alchemists, a background that serves him ill when he attends university at Ingolstadt. There he learns about modern science and, within a few years, masters all that his professors have to teach him. He becomes fascinated with the “secret of life,” discovers it, and brings a hideous monster into the world. The monster proceeds to kill Victor’s youngest brother, best friend, and wife; he also indirectly causes the deaths of two other innocents, including Victor’s father. Though torn by remorse, shame, and guilt, Victor refuses to admit to anyone the horror of what he has created, even as he sees the ramifications of his experiment spiraling out of control. This paper focuses on the God-like sciences that are portrayed in the novel.
“Learn from me. . . at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow” (Shelley 101). Victor’s attempt to play God and Creator is most plainly seen through the perceptions and actions of his creation. The creature is born into the world as if it is a baby, knowing nothing of life. This creature's first experience as a living existence is being shunned by its own creator.
I beheld the wretch---the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me… He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs (Shelley 43).
The monster is reaching out to the only thing he knows thus far, his creator, and is met with disgust. Victor, being merely human, cannot offer this creature the unconditional love and guidance that God bestows on His creatures. This, in turn, leads to the imminent immoral actions of the creature.
As technology advances, civilization grows farther from religious beliefs, attempting to become ‘God-like’. Instead of living off what is here, humans build their own habitats. Instead of accepting disease and death, hum...
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Fellman, Gordon. "The Truths of Frankenstein: Technologism and Images of Destruction." Psychohistory Review 19 (1991): 177231.
Gilbert, Sandra M., and Gubar, Susan. "Horror's Twin: Mary Shelley's Monstrous Eve." The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984. 213-247.
http://encarta.msn.com- "Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2005. http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2005 Microsoft Corporation.
Joseph, M.K. Introduction. Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley. Ed. M.K. Joseph. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969. i-xx.
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