Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein puts to question some burning questions that stir the mind of the avid reader. It questions certain societal ills in the course of the novel as explores the causes and the repercussions. The novel addresses the issue of paramount importance of parental guidance and love. It portrays the heartless society that readily alienates anyone not conforming to the norms. It shows the painful journey of the Victor’s creation due to lack of nurture. Victor is the tragic hero who is referred to as the Prometheus of the day. The novel reiterates that ethical grounds of scientific creation are not to be eschewed.
The creature is left alienated by his progeny and this gives rise to his thirst for vindication. Quite ironically, Victor had taken nine months to create his monster. Just like Faust, Victor too had embarked upon to create something new. On creating the being, he fails to understand his responsibility in rearing and protection of his creation. The creature suffers from lack of care and love and is scarred by the society. The author alludes to Rousseau’s theory of natural man as a noble savage who is shackled by the society.
Shelly asserts in her novel the pivotal role that parenting plays in the healthy development of the child. But all the creature is left with is renunciation and alienation. Victor is himself a person who abuses and mistreats and in turn the monster becomes an abuser too. To the sheer irony of fate, a tender girl whom he wants to adopt is the first murder victim. Shelly thus delves deep into the realm of utter plight of the child who is abandoned. It is the obvious and direct outcome of faulty parenting.
The creature is awfully pained by the absence of a parental figure in his life and subsequently comprehends the ostracism he is facing from the society. He becomes vindictive and embittered. The presence of someone to love and care about him would have made the creature develop positive traits and he would have never resorted to aggression.
Victor Frankenstein is himself reared in a caring and loving family and is taught to love fellow human beings. Being greatly affected by his mother’s demise, he endeavors to put an end to death in general. He embarks upon this journey just like Prometheus who aimed at the betterment of humans. Both share the altruistic motivation. Also, just like the elevated self of Prometheus in heaven, Frankenstein too is born with a silver spoon in my mouth and the pomp also emphasizes the great fall in the course of events. Just as Prometheus had fashioned humanity from clay to populate the globe, Victor too creates the living entity. This being then becomes the centre of events in the rest of the novel. Frankenstein abandons the creature after it comes to life out of bewilderment, not malice.
Prometheus is punished by the gods for helping humanity and is made to bear with pain every day of his life with an eagle feeding on his liver. He is left in a state of eternal pain for his altruism. There lies the tragedy of Prometheus. Likewise, Victor too faces tormenting consequences in the hand of his own creation as an outcome of his quest of aiding humanity. His friends and family too have to bear with the brunt of the creature’s fury and are sadistically murdered. His chase to the arctic in search of revenge ends up in his demise at the creature’s hands. He even chooses the future of human over his temporal happiness when he gets a choice between saving the human kind from the potential offspring and escaping.
Shelly compared Victor with Prometheus to show the avid readers how she views the character. To her, Frankenstein is a benefactor who is penalized eternally. His grave crime lies in that moment of weakness in his laboratory. Victor’s nobility is also shrouded by his weakness. His power comes with the vulnerability and he is the victim of unmerited misfortune.
Thus, the author sensibly portrays the relationship of the creature with its creator and creates an everlasting impression in the mind of the readers with her treatment of the complexity of human nature, the transformation of the creature into its feared self. She criticizes the role of the society and portrays the scarring effects on the creature’s virgin mind. The novel documents the tragic fall of Victor Frankenstein whose dream of helping mankind transforms into his worst nightmare at the cost of everything he had.
Cracuin, Adriana. (March 2011). Writing the Disaster: Franklin and Frankenstein. Nineteenth-century Literature, 65, 433-480. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/ncl.2011.65.4.433