Every story revolves around a hero. Heroes make an impact on everyday life, positive and negative, so it is common for writers to revolve their stories around them. One of the several hero archetypes used in novels is the tragic hero. A tragic hero is a person of noble stature, whose fatal flaw leads them to abuse the free will they once controlled. This moment of choice leads to a punishment which far exceeds anything deserving. The fall is not pure loss; the hero gains self knowledge through an increase in awareness, but the consequences are far reaching. Mary Shelly is an example of one of the many authors who create literature around a tragic hero. Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is filled with many intricate characters, but only one fits into the tragic hero archetype. The moment of choice for Victor Frankenstein, who was once a happy, noble individual, creates a devastating fate for himself, leaving him as an ideal tragic hero.
As the story begins, the reader is immediately told of Victor’s noble stature in society as he states “I am by birth a Genevese, and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic” (Shelly 14). His family was constantly travelling when he was younger and his parents devoted all their affection towards him. As he grew older, his desire for knowledge leads him to travel abroad so he could earn the best education. Victor was born into a happy, enjoyable, and wealthy life, but still strived to excel at everything in his life. The passion he expresses towards bettering himself in the means of knowledge connects the reader to him. Everyone has goals, and seeing someone push themselves to the limits to achieve them gives a sense of hope. Unfortunately, Victor’s lust for knowledge goes too far and his fate is forever cursed.
The idea of creating life from the dead first occurred when Victor’s mother died. This memory stayed in the back of mind while he went off to study. Victor would spend countless hours studying, whether it be at a university of professors or at his residence. His professors drove his passion even more; he took the negative and positive feedback and forced it all into his drive. Galvanism, which was a new theory during the time period Frankenstein was written, was the main science behind his creation. “[Victor] worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body… [He] had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that [he] had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled [his] heart” (Shelley 35). Victor’s dreams were greater than nature would allow them to be. He was too caught up in his selfish fantasy to realize what he was doing; he came to his senses too late. This creation sends Victor into what seems like an endless downfall. He tries to abandon his creation, but deep down, knows it will never truly go away.
Victor’s “monster” was incredibly hideous. Whenever...