The novel Frankenstein demonstrates dark but extraordinarily tremendous energy, telling the story of a scientist whose unique invention ended up being a disaster for him and everyone around him. Scientist Victor Frankenstein refers to the creature he invented from corpse parts as a monster, but the creature thinks differently. In Frankenstein, the focus changes from Robert Walton to Victor Frankenstein to the creature, returning to Walton. With each change of viewpoint, the reader learns something new about the narrative’s characters (Mays). Each storyteller adds details that only he understands: Walton discusses Victor’s final days; Victor explains the monster he created, and the monster describes his descent into evil. The protagonists’ perspectives diverge at times, especially as Victor and the beast are pitted against one other for most of the story. Characters may seem one-dimensional but play a more significant part in the book to showcase different features of the story. Victor perceives the monster as nothing more than a cruel and ugly beast, yet the monster’s narrative demonstrates that he is a cognitive, reasoning, and emotional being.
Most of the principles connected with Romanticism, an aesthetic period that originated in Western Europe, are exemplified in Frankenstein. Romanticism is characterized by a concentration on human emotions, passion for the physical world’s magnificence, and exaltation of creation and the artist’s personality. Mary Shelley’s life crossed paths with some of the Romantic period’s most notable enlightenment philosophers. Both the inception and substance of Frankenstein were affected by Romanticism.
According to Mary Shelley’s preface to the work, the writers invented a contest to determine who could produce the scariest horror movie. That midnight, the author had a terrifying dream about a scientist putting together a creature, and she began working on the book that would later become Frankenstein. The novel includes many of the hallmarks of Romanticism. Ruston suggests that chemists of the Romantic period gave new evidence of a universe in perpetual transformation. Chemistry was undoubtedly “the most exciting science at this time,” with discoveries virtually every day and the tantalizing prospect of more advances (Ruston 255). Victor Frankenstein can build the creature owing to his understanding of chemical metamorphosis.
Even though neither is an artist, Walton and Frankenstein are passionate visionaries prepared to live up to their destiny. At the same time, they both participate in revolutionary innovation by breaking new ground in chemistry and biology. The natural world’s power and grandeur, which have always been essential to Romantic poets, play a crucial part in laying the foundation for the novel’s shocking events. The monster’s perspective of starting the journey without awareness of societal or behavioral standards underscores Romanticism’s interest in how culture and society affect fundamental human nature.
Notably, the tale of Victor’s upbringing is central to Frankenstein. A young kid grows up in Switzerland studying the works of old and obsolete scientists, a heritage that will come back to haunt him at Ingolstadt University. He discovers the current scientific foundation and understands whatever his teachers have to offer him within a few years (Shelley and Bolton). The narrative demonstrates that natural philosophy, particularly chemistry in its broadest sense, became practically his only occupation from this point forward (Ruston). Victor is enthralled by the mystery of life, finds it, and is summons to live a horrible creature. The monster goes on to murder Victor’s younger brother, classmate, and spouse, as well as two other innocent civilians, including Victor’s father. Nonetheless, Victor refused to inform anybody about the tragedy of what he had created while suffering from pain, humiliation, and guilt.
Victor develops from an impressionable child enthralled by the possibilities of science to a tired, criminal person determined to destroy the products of his pompous scientific study throughout the narrative. Victor is condemned by a lack of humanity, whether due to his ambition to reach the godlike ability to generate new life or his rejection of the public forums where research is generally done (Shelley and Bolton). The scientist isolates himself from the rest of the world, finally succumbing to an instinctual fixation with a vengeance against the creature.
The monster is Victor Frankenstein’s invention, made up of old body parts and unusual substances powered by a strange spark. He is eight feet in height and extremely powerful when he is born, yet his thinking is that of a baby. After being deserted by his maker, he tries to assimilate himself into civilization and is generally hated. He recognizes his physical grotesqueness in the mirror, a feature of his identity that blinded people to his initially soft, compassionate heart (Romanyshyn). He kills Victor’s younger sibling to get payback on his progenitor. The monster destroys Victor’s closest buddy and subsequently his new wife when Victor smashes his research on the female creature designed to soothe the monster’s loneliness.
Despite Victor’s unwavering disdain for his child, the monster demonstrates that he is not entirely evil. Victor’s articulate description of events exposes the monster’s remarkable sensitivity, empathy, and kindness. He helps many destitute farmers and rescues a girl from death, but he is only repaid with bashing and scorn due to his outer look. The monster finds himself alone and plagued by guilt, torn between vengeance and empathy (Romanyshyn). Even Victor’s death gives only bittersweet relief: bliss because Victor has caused him so much suffering and sorrow because the monster and his creator had a connection.
Victor’s failure to see that his acts have consequences is the central struggle of Frankenstein. Victor is exclusively concerned with his objectives and fails to consider how his actions may affect others. The creature serves as a harsh reflection of Victor’s inability to accept accountability for his attempts to violate nature’s laws. Victor neglects his parents and bride to focus on his education at the University of Ingolstadt, which leads to the first hints of tension.
The pressure heightens when Victor hears of his brother William’s murder and Justine’s criminal charge. The murder sets up a new position in which Victor can choose whether to assume responsibility or not. He intensifies the struggle by permitting Justine to be murdered rather than exposing what he understands about the monster. When the creature joins up with Victor among the mountain ranges and informs him about all of his pain and his solitude and alienation, the rivalry heats up even more. The encounter between the creature and his maker is another opportunity for Victor to stray from his egotistical course. When Victor unwillingly offers to build a companion for the beast in return for the two of them fleeing somewhere distant, the storyline provides a partial outcome.
For all of the protagonists in Frankenstein, the rash quest for scientific understanding leads to confusion, disaster, and sorrow. Many reviewers see the novel as the Scientific Revolution’s critique since so many people suffer from advancements in science. Other significant scientific developments, such as discoveries in physics and astronomy and scientific breakthroughs in gravitation and the laws of motion, indicated that the amount of information available about the world and how it worked changed dramatically during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. People’s attitudes toward learning shifted due to these scientific breakthroughs: instead of depending on traditional knowledge from scholarly articles, people preferred testing, observation, and proof to back up what they believed to be accurate.
Many promising developments have resulted from advances in scientific knowledge. On the other hand, some skeptics regarded science’s growth as infinite, raising concerns about how far was also too far. Because Christian theology views formation as a divine act, interfering with it, as Victor Frankenstein does in making his creature, was to put a person on the very same plane as God. As medical research demanded an improved understanding of anatomy and the potential of experimental operations, the concept of dismembering and slicing carcasses for the sake of experimenting became a more genuine worry. Shelley’s story is neither anti-science nor anti-discovery, but it does focus on what occurs when science is not accompanied by individual social culpability. Victor Frankenstein is hooked on the glory of success, oblivious to the implications of having a new species rely on him.
Many other writers have struggled with what happens when people overlook the possible repercussions of modern science since the publishing of Frankenstein. The story was written in reaction to current discussions concerning the use of real animals in experiments. Recent scientific and technological advancements have also prompted consideration of the necessity for care while probing development limits. They both deal with biotechnology and the creation of a new sort of humanoid, reacting to scientific advances in genetic editing and aided reproduction and an ecological disaster.
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein reflects the story of a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, whose unique invention resulted in becoming a disaster for him and everyone around him. Victor calls the creature he invented out of corpse pieces a monster, but the creature disagrees. The monster’s version of events is based on the facts surrounding William Frankenstein’s assassination. In contrast, Victor’s portrayal, influenced by his father’s touching letter, focuses on the heinousness of the murder. Hence, the form of parallel storytelling is one of the extraordinary results of Shelley’s complicated storyline.
Even though one does not sympathize with the beast, one may understand his actions. The evidence in the monster’s account indicates that he possesses the human cognitive ability to empathize. The story’s relevance demonstrates the potentially disastrous effects of scientific disruptions; consequently, the next logical step is to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Victor Frankenstein felt that by constructing the monster, he would be able to learn the mysteries of death and how to regenerate life. Frankenstein’s creature is not a monster; nonetheless, he is constantly subjected to society’s rejection, which is integral in shaping his identity as a monster.
Mays, Kelly. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 13th ed., W. W. Norton and Company, 2019.
Romanyshyn, Robert D. Victor Frankenstein, The monster and the shadows of technology: The Frankenstein prophecies. Routledge, 2019.
Ruston, Sharon. “Chemistry and the Science of Transformation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts, vol. 41, no. 3, 2019, pp. 255-270. doi.org/10.1080/08905495.2019.1600793
Shelley, Mary, and Gillie Bolton. “Frankenstein.” Medicine and Literature. CRC Press, 2018. 35-52.