Themes in Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a Romantic novel about a young scientist with radical ideas and ambitions. He is intrigued with life, specifically the creation of life. He spends years of his life researching and studying, he even spent extended periods of time in tombs observing bodies decay. This novel contains many important themes. Two of which I would like to highlight in this blog post.

The first is that man should not play God. Victor Frankenstein embarks on a quest to create life, which ends in tragedy. Frankenstein’s creature, in visioned to be a beautiful being with larger features then humans turned out to be a grotesque monster. Once it came to life, Victor Frankenstein himself could not even bear the sight of it, his own creation.

His monster fled the the house and never returned. Frankenstein’s monster tries to fit into society with desire of acceptance but receives only hate and fear from the humans, because of this it swears revenge on humans and his creator, Victor Frankenstein. This is where this first theme, that man shouldn’t play God becomes apparent. Wandering through the wood in Geneva the creature stumbles across a young boy. The boy reveals that he is from the Frankenstein family and the creature strangles him to death. The creature doesn’t stop here though, his next victim is Victor’s dear friend Henry Clerval, whose death is a result of Victor not complying to the creature’s request for a companion. The final straw is when the monster kills Elizabeth on Victor’s and her wedding night. After all of these killings Victor devotes his life to destroying his creation, which eventually leads to his own demise. Shelley wants to use Victor as an example of how men can’t play the role of God. The creation of life is beyond man’s control and through the savage killings the monster does, Shelley portrays what happens when man tampers with Gods role of creation.

The second theme that I would like to point out in this story is the healing role of nature. When Victor spent years creating the monster he fell very ill. It wasn’t until he left his house and received fresh air with his friend Henry that he began to feel renewed and healthy once again. Throughout the story Victor seeks sanctuary from illness in nature.

6 thoughts on “Themes in Frankenstein”

  1. I think you have definitely hit upon something with that point about nature. It can also be said that the reversal of nature (bringing something dead back to life) was what caused Frankenstein’s illness, from which he recovered after being in the fresh air. Also, Frankenstein pursued his monster into the wilderness (more nature) after Elizabeth’s death, trying to heal his broken heart through destroying something that is against nature.

  2. WOW I really didn’t catch the nature idea. That is pretty interesting. Meaghan also produced what seems to be a pretty valid example from the reading with Victors wilderness pursuit. Yet, I just wanted to point out that it seems as though Victor’s health is on the decline even before he actually succeeds at creating the monster. This leads me to believe that its not necessarily “(bringing something dead back to life)” that causes Victors sickness, but just him “playing God” as Danny pointed out. This is what I really wanted to comment on, the idea that Victors sickness is brought about with his creation of a life, and his death as he attempts to destroy a life. Both the creation and destruction of a living being are things we would consider the role of a God(s). Therefore, I agree that this is definitely an important theme throughout Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

  3. I never thought about the idea of nature before. I think it is really interesting because Frankenstein ultimately messes with nature when he tries to play God as well, by creating a new way to make life instead of the natural way of reproduction. I definitely think that the theme of not “playing God” is the most evident throughout the story though, causing me to think that the views of science in this era were either not yet accepted, or frightened people with technological advancements occurring.

  4. I agree with Jessie that the theme of “playing god” is the most evident throughout the story. Victor uses science to create life which although is a scientific discovery, eventually does not play out well and is inherently bad. Nature definitely plays an important role in the story, as in this time period nature and imagination were highly valued in gaining knowledge and in literature.

  5. I agree with the idea that defying nature is something significant that brings harm upon Frankenstein. Like Baguidy first mentioned, “playing God” is something which completely defies nature; therefore Frankenstein is severely punished. By creating life, Frankenstein was performing one of the duties of God, and that is portrayed as a terrible deed according to the consequences that Frankenstein faced as a result. The idea of nature playing a role in healing and destroying throughout the story is very interesting and I did not notice it while reading, so I think Danny made a great point in this blog post.

  6. I think the idea of nature is a good point to bring up. I also did not realize how it connects the happenings throughout the story. Frankenstein not only defies the law of nature by creating the monster, but he also plays the role of God. Frankenstein’s actions went against the morals of what humans should do in their lives, and eventually, he is punished by getting ill and losing everyone in his life to the monster. I also think that it’s good to bring up the fact that the monster ends his existence in the novel by disappearing into nature. In a way, nature gives us the monster, but then takes him away, letting him run away and be lost.

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