Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus is a science fiction novel about the danger of man’s intellect, as well as the dual nature of a human soul. Its author, legendary Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, represents in her literary piece the society of the early nineteenth century, especially focusing on an achievement of a young scientist. The novel claims that damage caused by great human reason in the pursuit of a scientific discovery can be extremely destructive. Despite generally accepted moral and ethical principles, the main hero of the novel, a young scientist Victor Frankenstein, considers himself God, and thus he acts against the nature by succeeding in the creation of a living being. However, being able to create a living being, Victor fails to create a human being. The horrible deed of the ambitious scientist marks the beginning not only of the creature’s sufferings, but of the entire society. Therefore, the ending of Shelley’s novel is inevitable – the monster and Victor have to be defeated in order to restore peace among people.
Imagining himself God, Victor violates the laws of nature and thus puts the beginning of his inevitable ending. In the novel, the young scientist has been working on creating a new life for a long time, and now he becomes extremely exited and forgets about all possible consequences, “With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet” (Shelley, 2003, p. 58). Moreover, Victor does not hesitate to make the biggest fault in his life and he does not mind about any dangerous consequences. At the same time, the interesting thing is that the young scientist points that the creature is lying at his feet. Hence, it can be noted that Victor elevates himself above a “lifeless thing” – the scientist literally and figuratively states that he is superior to the creature. Thus, Victor recognizes the creature rather as a successful experiment than a human. The creature is an object, a “thing” to his creator who initially believes it to be lower than him. Victor’s crucial mistake is his blind following of scientific desires to create a man in the laboratory and leave it live in the real society where there was no place for such a being. Therefore, being purposed to make an incredible scientific discovery, Victor Frankenstein does not think how his contemporary society will accept the creature, and how he will adapt to life in it.
As for the creature, he is doomed to suffer from the birth and consequences of these sufferings are mirrored on the society that eventually leads to inevitable ending. Throughout Shelley’s novel, knowledge of Victor’s existence has a destructive effect on the monster as he struggles to discover his scientific origin. An ambitious scientist made the creature that is somehow unnatural, however, he occurs in nature. Thus, the creature is forced to live in a society where everybody instead of dealing with him, naturally rejects what they see.
For instance, although the creature finds the idea to live in the community fascinating, people are scared of him and begin to attack the monster:
The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country and fearfully took refuge in a low hovel, quite bare, and making a wretched appearance after the palaces I had beheld in the village. (Shelley, 2003, p. 109)
Thereby, a visual appearance of the creature can be regarded as a vital reason of people’s prejudices against him – they deny his ugly unnatural body, thus attempt to exclude him from the world familiar to them. Therefore, throughout his short existence, Frankenstein’s creature undergoes social persecution, cruelty, and misunderstanding that result in numerous murders, and, at last, the death of his creator.
In addition, the birth of the monster becomes a starting point of his and Victor Frankenstein’s misery – they both have to pay the price for the scientific experiment. Although the experiment of the young scientist was successful and he achieved the aim, after realization how ugly and horrifying the creature was Victor abandons it. Thus, Victor makes one mistake after another – first, he violates the laws of nature creating life that should not exist, and then he refuses to take care of it. Thereby, the scientist flees from the consequences of his scientific experiment, for which sooner or later he will have to pay. As for the monster, he was doomed from the beginning of the novel. In the society, there are boundaries that Frankenstein’s creature cannot overcome – he is made of human corpses, thus his appearance scares people around. The monster is abandoned by his creator and forced to wander the world in search of his place and purpose. Moreover, there is no way for the creature to identify himself with other humans because he is a new life form, “When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?” (Shelley, 2003, p. 93). Therefore, neglected by his creator and renounced by the society, the monster comes on the way of self-destruction.
At the same time, the solution of imbalance artificially created in the nature can be only one – the monster and his creator should be destroyed. Neither Victor nor the result of his scientific experiment has brought benefit to the community. Instead of the use, the monster created by Victor sows grief and pain around him. Being deprived of care, good treatment, and support by Victor Frankenstein, the creature does not know what are kindness, compassion, and dignity. Moreover, the lack of all these inherent to human feelings provokes the creature’s cruelty and desire to revenge his creator. Hence, it is obvious that the presence of the monster is threatening to humans because his existence violates the current order of the society. The monster cannot be accepted because there is no place for him, thus he has to be destroyed. The scientist as an offender of the order in the society has also sunk into oblivion. Therefore, there is no place for the monster and Victor in the community – they both have to take responsibility for their deeds.
In addition, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus is a shining example of the man who denies personal responsibility for his acts and inevitably faces tragic outcomes. Victor Frankenstein was led only by the extreme desire to succeed in the creation of a new life, but he did not take into consideration his responsibility for the creature. Victor had the audacity to break the order among men that could not be acceptable, and thus he had to deal with consequences. Moreover, the birth of the monster causes his personal misfortune that eventually harms the whole society. Being the only one of his kind, the monster had no place in the community and was destined to exist outside. Although the ending of Shelley’s novel is inevitable, it possesses an important moral lesson on how science can cause damage to society and what the lack of human responsibility for a scientific invention can lead to. Therefore, Victor and his creature had to be destroyed as they were supposed to, so that the order to be restored among men.