The novel, Frankenstein, was written in 1815, when the author, Mary Shelley, was 19 years old. Mary’s family took her on a holiday throughout Europe. One night, in Geneva, the travelling group were quite bored, so they decided to tell ghost stories. Mary couldn’t think of a story, so she went to sleep and dreamt the story of Frankenstein. There were also other influences for Frankenstein. Shelley liked the new technologies, and she always went to see the best shows.
She was also interested in Luigi Galvani’s work. He tried to prove dead and alive muscle used electric impulses. Shelley also liked Romantic writing, which is the concept of worshiping things natural. In the novel she shows her respect for natural beauty by showing the Artic as a place that Walton admires. She also created the gothic style of writing, which expresses a concern for identity, with the monster that has no name that wanders pointlessly. To give him a name is to give him power.
Frankenstein is a story about a man from Geneva, Victor Frankenstein. He is a wealthy man that has a love for the woman he grew up with, Elisabeth. He moves to Ingolstadt to study Science and Medicine. He gets so obsessed with his ambition of finding the secret of life that he creates a monster from dead body parts. He runs from it and it plots is revenge by making Victor suffer as he did. As he follows him and tortures him, Victor meets Walton, our narrator.
He sends many letters to his sister. He is similar to Victor and slightly the monster, in the way that they wish to achieve, but Victor prevents the loss of lives on Walton’s ship. The monster, meanwhile, wants, but probably never will have a companion. Victor does, however, achieve his dream of finding the secret of life, although it goes horribly wrong. Neither of the protagonists dreams are what they thought they might be.
Walton is an explorer that wants fame and fortune, but he also wants someone similar to him, a friend. Even though, as a Captain, he has his crew, they are expendable. He is willing to achieve by breaking any boundaries. On his deathbed, Walton’s father begged him not to become an explorer, but as Walton has a rebellious behaviour, he disobeys his father’s last wish. At meeting with Victor, he changes for the better. He finds an admirable figure, someone that thinks the same way as him. Victor has already been through the pain of ambition seeking. He convinces Walton to save his crew’s lives and heads home.
One of the lines that convince Walton is “Do you share my madness?” What he means is that his ambitions are madness, as they only end in disappointment. Also, as the narrator, he writes the letters to his sister, and therefore the novel, in corrupt narrative, which, in this novel, means that the story was first said by the monster, then edited by Victor to make him look like the victim, then, finally, the reader gets Walton’s version on the story, who prefers Victor as he knows him and because he is similar to him. He also speaks in a romantic style, as he speaks in a way that shows the Artic as a place of beauty, whereas the other characters see it as a desolate place, with no life.
Victor Frankenstein, the main character, or protagonist, is an ambitious man from Geneva. He dreams of finding the secret of life. Once he arrives in Ingolstadt, his university, he finds his work uncontrollably consuming his life. He begins with research, how he can make the ‘perfect’ man from dead flesh. He decides he can sew the perfect limbs together. Then he uses the natural power of lightning (with pathetic fallacy as storms are intimidating and come on only dreary nights [It was a dreary night in November]) to put an electric shock into the dead body. This is what he believes is the secret of life. He believes his task is filled with “delight and rapture”, this means that before he sees the monster alive, he believes that he has already had great success over so much labour. Shelley also puts his actions into a god-like figure, which can create and destroy life as he wishes.
Shelley also uses religious words, such as rapture, creator, species and even later on, demonical. Victor soon realises that his experiment is a massive failure. He expected a perfect, clever human to be produced, but he got a scarred monster that he describes as wretch. He inflicts pain, mainly emotionally, on it, by running away. As it cannot speak, the monster is left alone for dead. Victor learns that being a god isn’t so easy, as when he creates the monster, he finds that he is more of a father than a god.
He has responsibilities although he does not help the monster and prays cholera kills him. This shows Victor in his true form, selfish. Victor also uses romantic language to describe life. He shows that by creating life, he is doing the world good, creating an almighty species that nature will accept: “A new species would accept me as its creator” exclaims Victor. Shelley also portrays, as previously mentioned, the three protagonists all having similar dreams. They all just want companions. Victor wishes for Elisabeth, the monster, someone similar to him and Walton, his sister.
The monsters dream is to be accepted by one person. He doesn’t want money or fame, just someone that looks like him. Even at the creation of his life, all he wanted was to be accepted by everyone, but later, he saw this as being impossible. He believes that as Victor has caused him so much pain, all he wants is for Victor to experience it by having no one to love him. The monster also believes that Victor has acted with cowardice and selfishness, by running away and leaving the monster to a horrible fate. Even when the monster begs for a companion, Victor eventually rejects his offer and selfishly abandons him on his own, crushing his dream.
The reader eventually gets to like the monster, as they start to feel sympathy for him, as he has nothing to hope for and no one to share his life with. Even after the monster attempts to learn English, which he thinks is a gift from gods, (from the quote “Godlike Science”)only two people experience his education fully, the blind De Lacy man and Victor. The monster is also quite secretly persuasive; he wishes for Victor to make another monster, he also attempts to make the reader feel sympathetic towards him with lines like “Was I then a monster, from which all men fled…?” which make the reader wish they were in the story to help, which proves it is quite a strong type of sympathy. Shelley also uses the monster as a way of pointing out human flaws. She shows that no matter how different someone is, another person will always find faults or be intimidated by someone else.
Frankenstein also has a subtitle; it is also named “The Modern Prometheus”. The classical story is about a human named Prometheus, who steals fire from the god Zeus to have an advantage over animals. This causes only pain and suffering for animals. In the modern Prometheus, Frankenstein is Prometheus as he defies the gods and takes their role as creator. As comeuppance, he is chained to a rock and his liver was eaten by an eagle every night, just to be healed at daybreak.
This is a symbol for the ongoing pain of both Frankenstein and the monster. Even though, as the novel says, ambitions results in nothing other than pain, the advancement in modern medicine is an amazing feat. It has, meanwhile, sparked controversy, with subjects like stem cell research that could potentially be harming living organisms. The character that I favour most is the monster as he has been through nothing but pain throughout his entire life, whereas the other protagonists have been fed with a silver spoon. I think that the novel of the story is that if you are willing to put everything at risk to succeed, be prepared to fail.