The Deconstruction of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Novel

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Binary opposition can be described as a pair of connected non-physical elements that have opposing meanings, or it can refer to the comparison between two mutually exclusive words. These contrasts abound in Mary Shelly's novel Frankenstein 1818. The novel tells the story of Victor, a man who made a human-like monster. Victor had been curious about how things worked since he was a teenager. He learned the art of bringing animals to life while at university. Victor began his project of making a human creature after completing his studies. He later learned he had created a monster after finishing the mission. The novel has many binary opposition. Between each of these binaries, a human applied-liminal threshold exist which divides them. Within this boundary, an opportunity arises from the breaking down, and swapping between the two characters resulting in suffering and mystery as exemplified by the monsters disappearance to distance and darkness and the death of Victor.

Among the many binary opposition in the book, none is as remarkable as the oppositions allegorized between Victor and his creature’s relationship. The contrast between the two characters can further be subdivided into seven binaries that interlink, mutate, blend, and blur to deconstruct the literary text. These binaries are; creator and created, rationality and madness, inclusion and rejection, religion and nature, innocence and guilt, science and nature and victim and villain. One of the main binary opposition that stands out in the text is rationality and madness. The action of Victor is somehow questionable. Although his smartness in the field of chemistry is undeniable, the undertaking of creating a human like creature is questionable.

Victor's Rationality

The text points to the madness of Victor. His creation has proved to be a disaster for mankind. The wide held belief about the literary text is that the creation of Victor is an abomination to humanity. However, the binary opposition that many people fail to look at is the rationality of Victor. After completing his task, he soon realizes how his creation is a disaster and abomination to the society. When the creature goes about destroying the life of Victor, he is still rational and even considers creating a mate for him to combat his solitude. Once again, Victor takes a second look at the situation and realizes this is a bad idea and destroys his second creation. This shows his rationality as well. Victor was mad to create the beast in the first place but that has not limited is thinking.

The Creator and The Created

The creator and the created is another binary opposition that is evident in the literary text. The binary opposition stems from religion. Religion posits that God/god created mankind. This is a widely accepted notion among many religious people in the world. Atheists however do not believe in this stance. Shelley was an atheist and her work is a stark contrast to her beliefs. In the literary text, Shelley dismantles the previously held world views and makes Victor a Creator of life something that only God had such power. Additionally, Victor is given the power of the creator in the text. However, it can be identified that Frankenstein has become the creator later.

Rejection and Inclusion

Initially, Victor was a young person with ambitions and had a good life. After the creation of Victor, he changes instantly and becomes afraid, doubtful about the future and he is controlled every time by the monster. In this case, it can be argued that Frankenstein has become the creator and Victor is no longer the creator; he is the created. The same views can be seen in the binary opposition religion and nature. Nature dictates that God is the creator while Victor is the created. However, it can be seen that Victor has become a creator. In that essence, Victor has contravened the widely held view of nature that man can never create another living creature.

Guilt and Innocence

The widely held belief about the book is that of rejection. The monster is seen as being an outsider in this world. People also portray victor as rejecting the monster. However, it can be seen that although the monster carries these evils acts, his only true objective is to have a partner. He wants to be included in the society. Victor also feels for the creature he created. As much as he hates what he created, he wishes that if it would be part of the creation. However, his nature in terms of appearance cannot allow such an inclusion in the society. At one point, Victor considers creating a partner for the monster. This shows his resolve to help the monster feel human.

The Innocence of the Monster

The common held belief is that the monster is guilty for the actions he has done. He is responsible for the multiple deaths seen in the book. It can also be argued that he is responsible for the death of Victor. However, it can be seen that the monster is innocent. Frankenstein did not request to be created. He is the end result of someone’s ambition. From the book, it can seen that he was different from a human being. As such, it can be argued that his mindset was different and the deaths he caused are not his fault but the shortcomings of his creator. Victor is therefore guilty of all the deaths and his own demise while Frankenstein can be taken as the innocent party. The same case can be said about the binary opposition victim and villain. The victim is Frankenstein and not Victor. The shortcomings in the creation caused Frankenstein to be a monster. Victor is the villain because he undertook a project that he had not perfected. His creation ended up causing multiple deaths and his ultimate demise.

Aporia in Frankenstein

One moment that aporia is seen in the book is the instance where Elizabeth, Victor’s bride is murdered by Frankenstein. The Monster had promised Victor that he will be with him during his wedding. The character goes into a panic mode during the night of his wedding fearing for his life. Shortly after the wedding, the wife of Victor is murdered by Frankenstein. This passage can refer to Frankenstein’s solitude and his need for a partner. The marriage of Victor meant that the only person he knew is gone forever. As such, Frankenstein had to murder his wife so that Victor can always be with him. The passage can also mean that Victor has become the source of death rather than the source of life. Initially, he was fixated on giving life to creatures but in turn, he has ended being a person that brings death to the living creatures.


Mary Shelley’s work, Frankenstein is a combination of the opposites. The book is characterized by disunity rather than unity as exemplified by the binary oppositions. The book can be interpreted in one dimension but a stark contrast arises in every position that can be identified. For instance, Victor is can be identified as the victim because of Frankenstein’s work. In contrast, it can be identified that he is the Villain and not Frankenstein. It is his work that is causing the damage. As such, this renders him responsible for the actions of the monster. The end result of these binary opposition is suffering and mystery for the two characters.

December 21, 2022



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