This paper posits to investigate Frankenstein as he explores the passionate quest to go past the confines set for humankind. It will discuss Frankenstein’s effort to “play God” in making a living creature. This paper will investigate whether Frankenstein was a heroic overreacher or an egotistical meddler in God’s sphere of influence as he endeavours to produce life.
The book Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly, revolves around the life story of Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein is a young boy of Swiss origin, who grew up in Geneva. He studies the works of the outdated and ancient alchemists at Ingolstadt where he attends university. At the university, he learns about contemporary science and in a few years, he masters all his studies. He becomes captivated with the secret of life, which he discovers, and subsequently creates a living monster. To elaborate his zeal Frankenstein says in letter 1;
“I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose, a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”
This comes at a time of enormous scientific controversies and discoveries in Europe in the early 19th century. Frankenstein is a manifestation of the concerns that society was regarded as imperative concerning religion and science.
The consequences of Frankenstein’s endeavour to play God can be seen through the monster’s perceptions, the character traits that lead to his own devastation, and the eventual loss of Frankenstein’s morality and sanity. Firstly, Frankenstein’s endeavour to play God as well as the creator is evidently seen through the actions and perceptions of his creation. The irony is evident in that Frankenstein believed that he was doing something constructive for humanity. The creature was born like an infant, knowing nothing concerning life. Frankenstein, being only human, is unable to grant the creature the unreserved love as well as guidance that only God grants His creatures. This, sequentially, results in the imminent wicked actions of the monster. Frankenstein develops into a guilt-ridden person determined to exterminate the fruits of his egotistical scientific endeavour. Whether as an outcome of his yearning to achieve Godlike power of producing new life, or his evasion of the public arena, in which science is generally conducted, Frankenstein is condemned by a deficiency in humanness. Frankenstein isolates himself off from humanity and ultimately commits himself wholly to an animalistic fascination with revenge upon the creature.
Symbolically, the similar act of reaching out makes Frankenstein run with terror is the process by which the monster utilizes to kill its victims through strangulation. In a moment of desperation, the creature asserts;
“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel.”
If Frankenstein tried to communicate with his creature during its harmless existence, then probably the horrible story may have ended there. Another characteristic defining the consequences of Frankenstein’s endeavour to represent God is apparent in his own character traits that lead to his annihilation. Firstly ambition is the definitive human imperfection in the novel. Frankenstein is trying to be God to his individual creation so as to accomplish his grand desires. At the precise moment that these desires are satisfied, Frankenstein recognizes that he is not God. He is consequently appalled at the disaster that he has created. This consciousness, however, is very late to alter the path of devastation that Frankenstein has to face.
Frankenstein decides his time of hatred and caring at the most unfortunate times, which is unlike the character of God. Rather than reach out to his monster to teach as well as care for it, Frankenstein turns from it and casts it into the vindictive world devoid of any love or guidance. Frankenstein at times feels empathetic for the monster and consents to its demands. Later he is overcome by his compassion for humanity over his own egocentricity and recognizes that the creation of an abomination is malevolence. Humanity, as seen in Frankenstein, will merely fail at its futile endeavour to play God. Frankenstein’s endeavour to play God leads to the ruin of his own sanity as well as morality. Frankenstein regularly visits graveyards and has no reverence for human life. He explicitly conveys abhorrence towards the monster and seeks out to kill it. Finally, he spends his days on a depressed, heart-breaking hunt of his creature. After wrecking too much havoc, the monster seeks to bid farewell to Frankenstein as it tells him;
“Farewell! I leave you and in you the last of humankind whom these eyes will ever behold. Farewell, Frankenstein! If thou wert yet alive, and yet cherished a desire for revenge against me, it would be better satiated in my life than in my destruction. But it was not so; thou didst seek my extinction that I might not cause greater wretchedness; and if yet, in some mode unknown to me, thou hast not ceased to think and feel, thou wouldst not desire against me a vengeance greater than that which I feel. Blasted as thou wert, my agony was still superior to thine; for the bitter sting of remorse will not cease to rankle in my wounds until death shall close them forever”
Although Frankenstein initially desired to be a creator like God, he exhibits qualities that are entirely contradictory to his predicament.
The novel illustrates the risks that can befall humanity if he actively endeavours to play God. Although humanity ought to live an honourable life, he should not attempt to create life, or become a deity. In the opinion of this paper, Frankenstein is an egotistical busybody in God’s sphere of influence as he endeavours to create life. His downfall is in his untimely mistakes as an imperfect human. This is by not assuming liability for his creation that he so fervently works to bring into life. His downfall is soon after multiplied and ultimately brings him to his demise. This is because Frankenstein, by no means takes liability for his actions. He also fails to ask for clemency for producing such a diabolical monster. Man, being an imperfect creature, will on no account possess the character of God, regardless of how much technology and science advance.
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