Literary Analysis Essay of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is considered a Gothic novel with the scary aspects characteristic of it. However, it is also a fable of the misdirected human endeavors that emerged in the over-assertive scientific spirit. Even as the author retains the element of horror all through the novel, it also reflects on the basic human condition and raises pertinent questions regarding the validity and relevance of all kinds of scientific experiments. There is a strong Christian moralistic undertone running all through the novel, criticizing the adventurous spirit of science that discounts the power of God. It proves in the end that boundless knowledge misused can bring only destruction to the world.
The ambitious youth Victor Frankenstein pursues a university education in order to fulfill his dream of putting to use his knowledge for the good of humanity. In his own words, “I ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge. I had often, when at home, thought it hard to remain during my youth cooped up in one place, and had longed to enter the world, and take my station among other human beings” (Chapter 3). His quest leads him to the creation of a monstrous creature out of the different body parts collected from dead bodies. Once he realizes that his creation is repulsive to the core, Victor abandons the creature. This affects the creature very badly, and in its childlike longing for acceptance, it tries many ways to befriend human beings, but all in vain. Losing hope in himself, the creature starts to wreak revenge on its creator.
After killing Victor’s younger brother William and frames his trustworthy maid Justine who is executed under charges of murder, the creature succeeds to communicate with Victor. He demands a pair with whom he promises to lead a quiet life and Victor agrees to create another female creature. But on second thought he abandons the plan, thinking that this would lead to the multiplication of evil creatures. The creature gets furious and kills Victor’s friend Clerval and his newly-wed bride Elizabeth. Victor chases the creature through the North Pole and encounters Captain Walton who recounts the story of the death of Victor and the creature’s reactions. The creature laments the bad deeds done against Victor, and in his despondent state decides to commit suicide, as there is no hope left for survival after the death of Victor.
The novel can be read on various levels, though the popular conclusions deal with the demonic power of knowledge that is capable of turning against its possessor. This idea has become a major part of the literary and artistic works that ensued, and is even symbolic of the present state of affairs in the socio-political and religious levels all over the world. The generalization that scientific advancements beyond its utilitarian objectives are essentially perilous may not bring the best out the work. On the contrary, the author emphasizes the misguided nature of the experiments carried out by an individual, under mysterious circumstances.
The monstrous creature has a very complex mind and its relationship with Victor operates on an ambivalent mode. It tries to draw the attention of its creature to its miseries and works against him out of sheer frustration that its life has failed to gain any significance despite many well-intentioned acts. The fact that Victor tries to run away from the result of the passionate experiment is paradoxical. It reveals the multiple layers of his conscience. He is always in two minds regarding the consequences of his action. The success of his experiment marked the end of his peaceful life on the face of the earth. The creature cannot in fact be considered evil altogether, as he shows on many occasions that he is capable of human emotions and longs only for love and acceptance from others.