Frankenstein, By Mary Shelley Essay

1305 words - 5 pages

“Isolation is the sum total of wretchedness to a man,” said 19th century author and philosopher, Thomas Carlyle. Humans are naturally empathetic; without any external human stimulus, the human psyche has no outlet of which to vent this empathetic ability, and the subtle laws that govern our most basic morals and natural tendencies begin to fall apart. In Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, author Mary Shelley incorporates the theme of overwhelming obsession to weave the meaningful and momentous tale of true outcasts that are subjected to the agony of isolation. Victor Frankenstein’s lust for forbidden knowledge leads to the creation of a monster, which he ultimately shuns and abhors with passion. The monster, like a newborn child, is malleable to the world, and as the object of disgust and loathing, is corrupted and driven to murderous deeds by his absolute misery of his lonely isolated life. In Frankenstein, author Mary Shelley creates a powerful story of torment and obsession through the skillful use of the literary devices of symbolism, irony, and foreshadowing.
Mary Shelley uses symbolism to dramatically express the dominant theme of obsession in her gripping novel. By means of a prevalent symbol, light, Victor tells of his feverish obsession to create a living being saying, “No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelley 51). In this context, light is thought to be a benevolent force of nature; it is brilliance and knowledge in its purest form. Victor perceives light, and its brilliance of knowledge, in a positive, constructive manner. He revels in his own possible glory, but neglects to shield himself from any possible inherent danger of the light. As the true insidious nature of light and of knowledge itself becomes painfully clear, Victor taunts his creation and cries out, “‘Why do you call to my remembrance,’ I rejoined, ‘circumstances which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin and author. Cursed be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first saw light! Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that formed you!’” (Shelley 82). In his misery and solitude, Victor sees the dual nature of light. While light has the power to enlighten with wondrous secrets, so to, can it blind with the vile monstrosities. Victor uses his immense knowledge and respect for science as a tool to transcend the barriers of restraint into unimaginable lands of symbolic light—sounds good but what does it mean. Similarly to how the monster’s ideals of humanity are shattered by the cruelty he meets, Victor’s pristine understanding of knowledge and science are demolished, and his entire life is...

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