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Frankenstein is a Gothic novel penned by Mary Shelley and first published anonymously in 1818. The novel tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a genius who solved the puzzle of the origin of life and learned how to resurrect dead matter (Mellor, 1). Victor, a young Swiss physicist endowed with extraordinary talent and an insatiable appetite for knowledge, seizes the secret of living matter reproduction. He has built a person of incredible strength and stamina. However, he is struck by his physical ugliness, capable of inflicting just horror, and rushes to abdicate blame for his creation's potential fate. As a result, the demon was absolutely desperate to find his place among people, rebels against the creator and cruelly avenges him, consistently killing his brother, friend, and the bride of Victor. This paper aims at evaluation of the novel in terms of social measures, such as religion, public perception and ethics.
Used his youth to create a demon, Victor Frankenstein devoted the rest of his life for attempts to destroy it, hoping to redeem the blame before mankind that way. Long-term wanderings have leaded him to the North Pole, where the life of the unfortunate researcher breaks down. The novel was repeatedly staged already during the life of the writer, and subsequently many times it was screened. Unfortunately, none of its adaptations, including the last one with Kenneth Branagh in the role of Frankenstein and Robert de Niro in the role of a demon could convey the philosophical complexity and psychological sophistication of this novel.
Human Drive in Knowledge Obtaining
In the mass consciousness of the 20tht century, Frankenstein started embodying demonic features, transformed into a monster, which he created. The novel represents the interpretation of the myth of creation. The failure of Frankenstein’s bold attempt shows that a person cannot be compared with God and become a creator. Thus, Shelley has shown that (even a genius) man is unable to compare with God in the ability to give life. The history of Victor and his creations would have developed just as if he cloned someone, for example. The novel provides a situation where a person gave life to a being, but he is not able to control it.
In the novel, the insolvency of man as a creator is transformed into the impotence of man in general. Shelley has been warning readers this way. The myth of creation flows into the myth of destruction. Additionally, Victor’s creations were shown unhappy by the fact that he has come to life: he experienced loneliness and egoistic alienation. At the same time, Shelley used the motive of rebellion to develop the motive of creative burning and the inescapable anguish associated with the process of creation. To ensure the inner movement of the novel about Frankenstein, the textual and subtextual meaning of the problems involved, Shelley synthesized mythological and literary allusions.
Shelley’s novel bears the imprint of the philosophical atmosphere of the era, when the new romantic philosophy replaced ideological ideology. The author challenges the correctness of the enlightenment theory about the omnipotence of the human mind, trying to bring potential consequences in the form of Frankenstein’s uncontrolled behavior. Man learns the laws of nature to become its master, he is a means of harmonious reconstruction of the world, and also has the ability to penetrate the secrets of the universe and explain everything from rationalist positions. Such a drive in search of answers to all questions is shown as a huge shortcoming of the human essence: everything is to learn, everything to try and, naturally, to be the first in any innovative discoveries. In Frankenstein’s novel, the irony of life forces the human mind to turn against itself.
Shelley did not give a name to the creature. During the whole story, depending on his own state of mind, Victor called it “creature” and “demon”. Creature was an indicator of Victor Frankenstein’s emotional experiences. Creation called itself imperfect, lonely shame on the earth and it is the fault of its creator. The author of the novel deduced a creature lonely on the way of life. The creature, born in order to reproduce the ideal, has come into the world to do well and has already suffered from the superstition and cruelty of human society, which gave rise to hatred and bitter jealousy to the happiness of others, the fury and the desire for revenge. In the work there was a mirror deformation of the internal instruction. A metamorphosis was recorded by the very being.
The loneliness of creation was seen as an unjustified punishment. His speech was not like the language of an artificially created, cold, prudent, impartial work. This was a confession of creatures with a highly developed soul organization. The demon assumed the right to judge the creator for his destiny and became a murderer. Undoubtedly, the game was based on the central position of the ideal romantic hero, which was the figure of Victor Frankenstein in the novel. He was an object with which all other characters of the novel merged.
“Should people pursue new knowledge?” – this question is ambiguous. On the one hand, it is certainly worth it, since the acquisition of new knowledge is the development of mankind. On the other hand, overdoing can lead to disaster. In her novel, Shelley argued: from her point of view, a person cannot achieve the ideal, embody a high idea in the material world and material means, even if it was the goal of improving life for mankind. When people make discoveries, they are motivated by several things. Basically, it is fame, money and the desire to get into history forever. Even if any experiment is unsuccessful, it becomes public and the person or people who deal with it become known. However, God created all his creations with other intentions. Creation of Frankenstein was not able to be compared to the creation of God, as the scientist created it from the hideous pieces of dead matter (Smith). Therefore, the sincere aspiration of the demon to find human attachment also remains unanswered, since it was a grotesquely disgusting material embodiment of the original great idea.
Creation of Frankenstein was too ugly to call him a man, however, reasonable, yielding to self-learning and cognition, which made him far from the animal. Nevertheless, Victor escaped from his creation and in all possible ways tried to hide from a meeting with him. The fact is that, firstly, he obviously did not even expect such a turn of events and was frightened. He did not know what to expect from the being and how to deal with it. Human is a creature possessing the gift of thought and speech, and also experience emotions such as joy, sadness, anger, aggression. Those emotions could provoke introspection and even an obsessive depressive state, as well as joy. Human is also a being that was created thanks to the love of two people.
From the point of view of religion, man is the creation of God; this is an ideal being that can cope with their instincts and thoughts. At the same time, the creation of Frankenstein is a creature that was artificially created by a person from parts of the body of deceased people and remotely resembling the person himself. Despite the human-like essence, there are still signs that strongly distinguish him from people created by God. The Frankenstein monster was an excellent example of that even if a person managed to comprehend the science of reproduction of other organic beings and even if this creation is capable of developing and manifesting feelings and emotions, it will not be able to comprehend such simultaneously banal and lofty human feelings as happiness and love.
“Another circumstance strengthened and confirmed these feelings. Soon after my arrival in the hovel I discovered some papers in the pocket of the dress which I had taken from your laboratory. At first I had neglected them, but now that I was able to decipher the characters in which they were written, I began to study them with diligence. It was your journal of the four months that preceded my creation. You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the progress of your work; this history was mingled with accounts of domestic occurrences. You doubtless recollect these papers. Here they are. Everything is related in them which bears reference to my accursed origin; the whole detail of that series of disgusting circumstances which produced it is set in view; the minutest description of my odious and loathsome person is given, in language which painted your own horrors and rendered mine indelible. I sickened as I read. ‘Hateful day when I received life!’ I exclaimed in agony. ‘Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even YOU turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred. (Ch. 15., p.8).”
There is also the issue of interpersonal relations between the scientist and his creation. They depended on each other and face an insoluble contradiction. Frankenstein identified his creation with himself, and thus he held the responsibility for the death of loved ones to himself. After the death of Elizabeth, the culmination took place, when Frankenstein finally forgot about pride. The creator and the creature became inseparable, and in the general fall they were likened to Satan.
The motive of the scientist was not only the desire to know the world, man and his nature, and also the desire to get universal recognition. As it was mentioned before, acquiring fame, respect, acquaintance, a person first of all acquired a certain power and strength that can influence others. In the case of the creator of the monster Frankenstein, his spiritual loneliness had a considerable influence on his desire for power. Thus, it is easy to see that from the very childhood Frankenstein was experiencing a lack of relations filled with spiritual understanding, which can become a real problem for man and a sufficient impetus for the manifestation of his desire for domination. Also, the scientist refuses morality to achieve his goal.
The Novel’s Sections
The first section describes the creator. Victor Frankenstein, a young Swiss scientist, was convinced of the power of the human mind. Endowed with insatiable curiosity, he, convinced of the incompetence of alchemy, turns to modern natural science. Frankenstein was not from the breed of Goethe’s Wagner, for which science was reduced to patient digging out worms. He was intoxicated by the thought of miracles committed by scientists that penetrated into the mysteries of nature. He admired the exploits of thinkers that commanded heavenly thunder, could reproduce an earthquake and even challenged an invisible world. Having to comprehend the mystery of the emergence of living matter, he hoped that in the future, perhaps, he would be able to return to life the dead and defeat death. His immediate goal was the artificial creation of a living organism, all like man.
The second section implied the way from dreams to real actions. Frankenstein had achieved his goal. He made an inanimate matter alive and created a creature with his own hands. Nevertheless, Frankenstein did not suspect what dangerous force he would bring to the world as a result of his experiment. He created a creature resembling a man who was endowed with endurance and energy. Nonetheless, his creation could not find a place in human society and soon inevitably became an outright enemy of the mankind. Description of the negative aspects of the behavior of the creation of Victor is the next step. The creation has sacrifices. They were a brother, Victor’s best friend and his young wife. There was a turning point when the creator begins to realize what he has done. Here is an attempt to reassess the one-sidedly optimistic view of the enlighteners about the omnipotence of reason. The catastrophic consequences of Frankenstein’s scientific experiment appeared in the depiction of a young writer as a fateful decree of fate. Nevertheless, the creator does not repent of having created, on the mountain people, his monster.
Summing up everything said above, it is worth noting that the author does not call for avoiding and fearing of science. Nonetheless, Shelley hints that humanity should not try to outdo God and become famous for this. There are secrets that people should not disclose, since this disclosure can contribute to the destruction of humanity itself. Such experiments are not capable of producing positive effects, since by revitalizing the body no one can give a soul to the being. It is given only by God, and nothing else. A soulless creature can only harm the world and people.
Mellor, Anne K. Making a “Monster”: an Introduction to Frankenstein. 1988. http://www4.ncsu.edu/~leila/documents/Mellor-MakingaMonster.pdf. Accessed on 27 October, 2017.
Shelley, M.W. Frankenstein. 1818. E-book. https://www.planetebook.com/ebooks/Frankenstein.pdf. Accessed on 27 October, 2017.
Smith, Nicole. Analysis of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley : Morality Without God. Article Myriad, 2011. http://www.articlemyriad.com/analysis-frankenstein-mary-shelley/. Accessed on 27 October, 2017.
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