14 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Literary Criticism: Victor's Pursuit for Immortality Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

The ramification of Mary Shelly’s unique creation in Gothic literature has in filtered the halo arena of literature bequeathing Frankenstein as a legacy. The novel abounds in obsession and vengeance. Shelly has breathed life into each character and hence has given it a befitting place in the galaxy of English literature. She made a debut into this galaxy through the novel, published in 1818.Shelly inherited a rich literary tradition when she began writing.

Victor Frankenstein’s triumph over death forms one of the major themes. His unbridled power instigates him to accomplish the impossible. He claims that he could bestow animation upon lifeless matter. His audacity that he could triumph over death leads him to the mutilation of the law of nature and he goes on to create a monster. The novel revolves around the approaches of pseudo-science that lead a human being to triumph over death.

THEME: Victor Frankenstein’s pursuit for immortality drives him to discover the secrets of giving life to the dead, and in a gruesome gamble he creates a life and leaves it to its fate. The vision of the monstrous form obliterates his vision. Ignoring the disastrous consequence of the aftermath, he escapes and abandons the creature. The monster is in search of a mate to give him comfort and solace. He entreats that his should create a comrade for him. Tortured and torn apart by doubt, remorse and guilt, Victor is compelled to create another grotesque monster. Shuddered by the possible consequences that would follow his foul deed he marred it. Raging, his first creation vows to avenge its birth.

To argue further, Victor Frankenstein suffers from pride, vainly and arrogance. He is driven by a scientific pursuit. He sits high in the hearts of his family members. He studies to become almost a seasoned scientist fully conversant with the tactics of giving life to the lifeless. His obsession to triumph over, death and mutilate the law of nature leads to his ruin. His abandoning his own creation proves the lack of moral fiber in him.

Frankenstein’s pursuit for immortality allows him to ruthlessly abandon his creation, the monster. However he is grieved and heart broken with his abandonment. All he wanted was a mate to give him comfort and solace for he had been living in solitude ever since he had his birth. His birth was rather a calamity and he cursed himself for having been born.       He shuddered with his own hideousness. He vows to avenge his birth. Hence Frankenstein’s pursuit for immortality brings about his end.

Contradictory to Victor’s pursuit, the monster is intelligent, loving, understanding and romantic. He is dejected and bereft of love or even a loving touch in his life. He is despised by the whole of humanity. He is called an ogre, hideous monster and what not. He is a self expressive, hideous to the world but a being with a kind of loveliness. He fights with all his strength. So that he could be accepted by the world of humans. It is from them that he learns to be vile and vindictive. He has an unceasing love for nature which in turn also mocks him. He feels ecstatic about the nature around him and adores the sun, the rain drops and the mighty rivers. But they too in turn abandon him. He is wonderstruck by the blissful surroundings and dreams of being embraced by it. The monster transforms himself into an anti-romantic creature with conflagration and destruction. His innocence and ignorance make him suffer from prejudice.

Victor’s pursuit for immortality further appears to camouflage his real motive. He appears barbaric when he goes against the laws of nature. In his own self interest and obsession, he subjugates his knowledge for his aggrandizement. God has bestowed him with intellect but he commits an unpardonable sin by creating and abandoning an innocent being. His macabre attempt to play with his own creations life is unethical demoralizes his very character.

Victor Frankenstein is gripped with an unnatural obsession to such an extent that he makes an inhuman and brutal harness of the nature. The greater the power, the more dangerous is the abuse. Frankenstein’s creation of the monster is more like the abuse of the atom bomb.

Thoroughly a pampered child, he does not appreciate the importance of the emotion of love and care which glorify a human being. His position of authority in his family worked like an in toxicant, leaving him proud, arrogant and audacious.

Victor’s pursuit for immortality intensifies when he joined the University of Ingolstadt to study natural philosophy and chemistry, when new horizons hitherto, unknown to him opened up. It is there that he indulges himself in a disastrous motive. His desire to bestow animation upon lifeless becomes convinced to him. So gripped is he in this unnatural obsession that he haunts char net houses and cemeteries for the remnants of the dead.

His audacious pursuit  that he would triumph over death led him mutilate the law of nature. The other students were astonished by his ardor and passion. After spending days and nights in fatigue, he discovers the secrets of generation of life. Victor appears to camouflage his real motive. That fatal night he makes a macabre attempt to give life to some assembled remnants of the dead, generating a grotesque monster. Beholding him, victor is exasperated and hysteric with fear and apprehension. Tentacles of fear gradually take hold of him and he flinches from the disastrous consequence. Mean while the monster has sought shelter in a poor family of peasants. He tries to be generous and benevolent towards them. On beholding his very appearance, they are shuddered and turn him away. He becomes an object of mockery for the whole society and receives cold treatment, evil and suspicious looks from one and all.

Thus as a consequence of Frankenstein’s pursuit for immortality, the monster finally seeks vengeance. He ruins the very existence of his creator. He is tortured by remorse because he has killed the innocent and helpless. He desires to ascend in his own funeral pyre triumphantly. When he recollects the injustice done to him his blood boils hot and he would never ever forgive his creator. The story ends with realization and penance on the part of the monster who expresses his guilt and grief over his killing of the innocent.

The monster though hideous glimmers with blissful rapture. His appearance is that of a monster but his heart is better even than a human heart. The monster has the luster of love, forbearance and compassion unlike his creator. He is romantic and admires the tranquil sun, the mighty crystal clear rivers and the blissful earth. On the contrary he is ridiculed by the human society. He was not born vile but it was humanity that taught him wickedness, contempt and vengeance.

The last chapter of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein concludes Victor Frankenstein’s search for the monster. His obsession with finding the wretch leads him into the most desolate territories in the world, led on with clues left by the monster itself. The motive for his quest goes beyond the desire for revenge, but is shaped over the primal need for Victor to become the ideal self. The monster, in which Victor placed his most intense hours of isolated contemplation, represents, if not the unconscious then at least an outlet and a means for the fulfillment of Victor’s dark repressed wishes. Bauman (1992) makes out possession, in conjunction with mastery and awareness, seeing that modern policies for escaping the silence of this life of loneliness and barrenness. “Consumption has become an addictive pursuit, a primary source of identification and security which privileges having over being. Accumulation offers more-of-the-same, an image of immortality and infinite desire. The exclusive pursuit of the Good(s) Life flows directly from the nature of private property. Our consumer culture of having or coveting transforms everybody and everything into something dead.”(Bauman, 1992)

The present theme of the paper that is Frankenstein’s pursuit for immortality, questions as to who the real monster is, the creator or his creation? Victor is that parent who abandons his child because he is hideous and grotesque in appearance. It was for his obsession, amusement and ambition that he gambled with the life of this poor being. The creation was mere trash with which he would illumine and glorify his fame and satisfy his pursuit.

The theme further argues that the monster is conceived in the womb of his creator’s obsessed, selfish and barbaric motive. The monster, turned down by humanity, longs for the love of a parent or a mate. His dejection at the very thought of his abandonment infuriates him to seek vengeance. Frankenstein flinches from his own deed and camouflages his gruesome motive. Hence the theme prevails that Frankenstein discovers the secrets of giving life to the dead, and in a gruesome gamble creates a life and leaves it to its fate. The theme conversely depicts that monstrosity does not merely pertain to the physical appearance of the being. It is the demoralized virtue of Frankenstein that has shaped into a monster. Ironically the monster is virtuous and human with benevolence, forbearance and love.



Hoobler Dorothy and Hoobler Thomas, The monsters: Mary shelly and the curse of Frankenstein, Paperback, 2007

literary history.com/19thC/SHELLEYM_Frankenstein

Shelley Mary, Frankenstein, Paperback ,Publisher: Stone Arch Books ,2007

Bauman, Zygmunt (1992Mortality, immortality and other life strategies

Filed under: Sample essays — Tags: , — admin @ 9:40 am

12 Nov 2008

Essays on Frankenstein

The Year Without a Summer was in full swing as British author Mary Shelley put ink to paper, penning the first few words of Frankenstein, an epic novel that would become an immortal favorite in literary, academic, and entertainment circles that even today is the basis of nightmares, horror films and even a few comedy films. The cold, dreary conditions of 1816 established the environment that inspired Mary Shelley’s descriptions in Frankenstein.

Frankenstein presents a broad range of potential essay themes. In the early 1800s the scientific and technological community was under heavy attack in the British Empire by Luddite forces (those opposed to technology), an environment depicted glaringly in Frankenstein’s theme of scientific experimentation gone wrong. Dr. Frankenstein’s monster also exhibits the fundamental human need of companionship and emotion of remorse during the course of the novel. Frankenstein also presents the haunting effects of an individual’s past mistakes which, if left unaddressed, can ultimately cause their destruction.

The dark themes of Frankenstein have inspired generations over the past two centuries with the story being translated, retold, and translated into many different movies, including several comedic versions. The theme of scientific experimentation going wrong has also been the basis of many non-Frankenstein literature and entertainment forms.

  • Expand on the concept of scientific experimentation gone wrong. What fears does Frankenstein present and how do those fears compare with today’s fears of uncontrolled technology and scientific experimentation?
  • Analyze the psychological aspects of Frankenstein. Explain how the “monster” demonstrates its human origin.

Mary Shelley created a novel so profound in its themes that its prose and force has survived for almost 200 years. The themes of Frankenstein have been cited as inspirational to thousands of medical professionals. Perhaps not what Shelley had in mind when she wrote Frankenstein, but a significant fact none the less.

Evaluation of novels like Frankenstein must be considered in light of the events and social climate in which they are written. Our writers are able to combine their knowledge of history with the novels to give accurate, insightful essays evaluating the aesthetic and critical value of Frankenstein and any other historic documents.

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