Man (Victor) vs. God Half-frozen, trembling, and troubled are all adjectives that could describe Victor Frankenstein when a ship captain by the name of Robert Walton rescued him in the middle of the Artic. From dialogue between the two, we are informed that Victor Frankenstein has spent his entire life trying to learn everything he could about science and medicine. However, Victor used his knowledge differently than his professors had intended for him to.
Written in 1816, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein - is vivid portrayal of Victor Frankenstein and the “fiend” he creates. In the early stages of his education, Victor was interested in learning new and foreign things –concepts and ideas about life and death. Though as the story progresses, it becomes clear Victor becomes consumed with trying to “play” God by creating a new life. Frankenstein – tells the story of the age-old battle of Man vs. God. From childhood, Victor had the odd, but unique, obsession of the concept of life and death.
His interest in death first sparked when a carriage killed his dog, Bruno. Victor desperately wanted to change fate and bring Bruno back to life, but being young and without proper education, Victor did not know how to go about reviving the dog. During a thunderstorm the very next night, Victor witnessed the unmatched power of lightning and electricity when a tree was struck during the storm. He was amazed and astonished at how much destruction the electrical storm had caused – but the lighting was not the only thing that sparked that night.
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Something also sparked in Victor that night. He wondered if he too could also create something as beautiful as life. A few short weeks later, Victor’s mother became very ill after contracting the common illness of the time, scarlet fever. She died a few short weeks later. Victor was utterly devastated by his mother’s death and he longed for a way to bring her back to life. I fell that Shelley uses instances, such as this one, to portray how we as humans are not only enthralled with power, but also with being powerful.
I believe that the plot used by Mary Shelly, particularly with the death of Victor’s mother, illustrates how Victor wanted the same power God has – and ultimately tried to play the role of God by creating life. After arriving at the University in Ingolstadt, Victor’s enrolled in Science classes so he could learn everything there was to know about the human body and medicine. He would spend class time and stay up hours on end at nigh, continually reading his texts. But as Victor’s knowledge of the sciences grew, so did the ever-burning desire he had to create a new life.
However, Victor would ignore his own warning given to his friend Walton, urging him to not follow his example, warning him, "Learn from me . . . how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow. " His notion that he could use what he had witnessed as a child to create a living creature, consumed his life so much that Victor would rarely leave his room.
After he felt that he had learned enough to bring a body to life – he did. Ironically, during a storm, he is successful in his quest to possess that God-like power of giving life to the non-living. However, Victor is immediately repulsed, stating, "…the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. " His life had become so consumed on bringing it to life, that he did not take the time to think of the consequences of his actions or his creation.
Here, Shelley seems to argue that ignorance is bliss. After the creation of the fiend, Victor is so frightened that he spends the night in his courtyard, afraid to reenter his home. Saddened by the reaction of his creator upon initial sight of his creation, the fiend leaves Victor’s house while Victor is still in the courtyard. Victor lets be and does not search for the monster. We learn about the misfortunes of Victor’s family. The fiend, as revenge for Victor’s actions, murders several of Frankenstein’s family members.
Everywhere the monster goes, he is faced with the realization that most people are frightened by just how he looks. Years of being an outcast of society leave the creature cold and spiteful. The creature explains his anger, saying, "There was non among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery. But pity can be felt as the monster describes the moment he learns that the most respected men in society have wealth and influence, he states, "I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. " Shelley uses this quote to underscore the theme of man's cruelty and injustice. She also uses scenes like these to describe and depict how horrible the situation can end up being when humans try to play the role of God and attempt things that humans don’t have the full power or knowledge to do.
In conclusion, it is more than safe to say that throughout the novel Victor Frankenstein was constantly consumed with learning new things about life and death, stating "Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember. ” That obsession lead to Victor’s attempt to assume the role of God. Victor’s quest for knowledge proves he is determined to do anything and everything that it takes to become more educated in the sciences – ultimately attempting and succeeding at giving life to a human being.
Unlike the majority of the people of his time, Victor did not believe that God is the only one who can create a life – he felt that he could do it as well. The outcome of his actions and - multiple deaths, a terrorized populace, a monster – is concrete proof that things such as the creation life should be left in the hands of the true creator…God. Mary Shelley used her novel to paint a vivid picture for the audience. The image illustrates that if we try playing God, it will likely end in disaster, just as it did in the case of Victor Frankenstein.
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