Old and New Testament
Old and New Testament
In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, the central theme for discussion is the relationship that exists between the creator and that which he is creating. In this particular work, Shelley focuses on a scientist who makes his life’s work out of manipulating molecules to create his own special brand of humanity. In addition to that, the author touches on issues of good and evil in regards to how Dr. Victor Frankenstein develops his own human being.
In this work, the relationship between the master and his creation parallels those themes of “God” and “human”, which are addressed in the Bible, by providing a commentary on the idea of good and evil. The emotional roller coaster that the creator goes through in Frankenstein is not only poignant, but it also a very important aspect of the story. After assembling the monster, Dr. Frankenstein finds that he does not feel particularly well about his creation and in fact, he even feels a big of horror because of what he has done. The emotions do not stop there, however.
The doctor feels a measure of fear over what he has created, simply because it was even more disgusting and vile than what he had set out to put together. Because of all these emotions, with especially fear, Dr. Frankenstein feels the strong desire to remove himself from the creation that had dominated his life. The realization of what he had created was an important moment in Shelley’s novel and it served as an eye-opener for the doctor, who had immersed himself in the situation so deeply that he could not recognize the beast he was creating.
In the story, Shelley writes, “It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. 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. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs,” (Ch. 5, 34-35).
In this quotation, the raw emotion and horror of Dr. Frankenstein can be seen. He realizes that he has not created a human being, but rather a monstrous beast. Victor Frankenstein is abhorred at his creation, which is the same sort of sentiment that God expressed in the Old Testament of the Bible when looking at his creation. In that part of the Bible, there are strong themes of destruction that always comes to the most wicked of individuals. Throughout the books, there are numerous examples of God being devastated by what he has created, and then wiping them out because of their wickedness.
One of the most well known of these stories is the story of Noah and the flood, where God nearly wipes out the entire race except for one man. In this way, similarities exist between Shelley’s example of creator and creation and the examples set forth in the Bible. Shelley presents Victor as a figure who is quite conflicted. Not only is he strangely devastated by his final creation, but he also has some distaste for himself because he has taken on the role normally reserved for God.
Just because he seeks to leave the monster and his bad decisions behind does not mean that the monster is willing to leave him alone, though. In the book, the creation seeks out his creator, looking for the type of belonging that exists between a creator and that thing he has created. The development of Victor as a character can be seen in how he handles the monster in this situation. At one point, the monster comes to Victor with hopes that the doctor might create a female companion for him. The doctor chooses, however, not to do this because of what effect creating one monster has had on his life.
In a way, it can be said that he has learned his lesson and he wants nothing to do with the idea of playing God anymore. By doing this, Victor had to make a very difficult choice. In the sense of what is said in the Bible, the creator has a certain responsibility to his creations. Victor chooses to forsake those responsibilities for the simple fact that he is tired of a being a creator and playing God. He would rather watch his creation suffer than have to go through the personal torment of creating another being.
The complicated dialogue that occurs in the story as told by Victor Frankenstein is his regret in creating the creature, not firstly due to the monster’s murders but initially due to the failure it represents of Frankenstein’s genius. His endeavors to re-create humanity go asunder with the monster’s ‘birth’ –in the comparison of Victor and god, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is done because God is displeased with humanity despite him making them in his own image; there is too much sin in the cities that the only possible action is to destroy them both.
This is the same thought that Victor has in relation to his sinful creation. Victor feels discontent for his decisions for a number of reasons. On one hand, he is ashamed of some of the things that the monster has done. The monster goes out and murders people, causing widespread destruction and pain for many individuals. In some way, Victor feels responsible for this because he created the monster and because he refused to help the monster. In addition, Victor is not content with the fact that he failed miserably in his quest to play God and create the perfect human being.
Since the monster is so flawed in so many ways, he is a living, breathing embodiment of the failure that Victor has to put up with each and every day. A Biblical correlation can be drawn in this, as well. In the Bible, God destroys the town of Sodom and Gomorrah because of what it had become. Like Victor, God attempted to create people in his own image, giving them what he thought was the ability to do good. When the town was overrun by gambling, prostitution, and other sin, God had to destroy it in order to preserve humanity. The doctor has the same desire to destroy what the monster has become.
In the book, Shelley writes, “The world was to [him] a secret which [he] desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to [him], are among the earliest sensations [he] can remember . . . It was the secrets of heaven and earth that [he] desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied [him], still [his] inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in it highest sense, the physical secrets of the world,” (Ch. 2, 18).
This quote explains the doctor’s desire to get it right. He did not set out to create a destructive monster, so when that came out as the result, he had an obvious amount of resentment towards his creation. Similarly, God perceives the cities to be nothing but a disgusting waste of his creative power. He sees not the beauty that he hoped to create, but the most vile, disgusting place on earth. Likewise, Victor sees the same sort of disgusting nature in his beast.
Victor states in the story, “”[a] flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom [he] had given life. ” Victor goes so far as to even give his creation a Satanic moniker, showing the absolute disgust that he has for the beast. This is a clear correlation with the Biblical reference that was presented above.
One of the most important parts of the book comes when the monster makes his journey from Ingolstadt to Geneva. Though the monster has great disdain for his relationship with his creator, he is actually free to discover, on his own, ideas about humanity. In this, one can compare the monster to Adam and Eve following their removal from the Garden of Eden. Like those two, the monster is thrown out on his own and he is forced to make his own way. This also causes him a great deal of disgust for his creator, similar to how human beings have disdain for their creator at times.
The monster holds these strong feelings of cynicism almost to the end and he applies them to almost every situation in his life. He seeks revenge against Victor because he feels abandoned. In the work, Shelley writes, “, “‘All men hate the wretched; how then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, the creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us,'” (Shelley 68). The monster’s revenge causes him to murder Victor’s brother, William.
This is the beginning of the absolute hate that exists between Victor and the monster and this powers the action in the book almost exclusively. When the monster turns his disdain into rage and begins to murder everyone close to Victor, he makes the creator hate his creation even more. Victor struggles with this idea, though, as he puts much of the blame on himself since he gave life and power to the monster that now haunts him. As the story progresses, Victor realizes that the only chance he has to give his creation redemption is to remove himself from the earth.
His death ultimate allows the monster to serve a different purpose than simply seeking out Victor for revenge. Over the course of the book, Victor’s goal had not been to look after the well being of his creation, but rather to continue his role of playing God. Eventually, he comes to see that his death is the only thing that will give the monster an opportunity. Shelley’s book closes with strong themes of redemption, which are represented in the death of Victor and in the idea that the monster can go on.
Victor provides the ultimate abandonment by leaving the earth, but in this act, he is doing a measure of good. The entire book is filled with things that can be linked to the Bible and nowhere is this more evident than in the end. In the Bible, God sacrificed his son to give human beings a chance at redemption. In Shelley’s work, Victor has to sacrifice himself in order to save his creation. It was the ultimate act between a creator and his subject and one that closes the book on the story and its relationship with the Bible. MLA
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York. Dover Publications, Inc. – 1994
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 December 2016
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