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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein As A Portrait Of Evil

1718 words - 7 pages

Frankenstein as a Portrait of Evil


    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is more than just a story of a creation gone bad; it is rather a story of evil that compares Victor Frankenstein to Prometheus and his monster as a God-like figure. Mary was able to do this by all of the influences that she had. These influences made her able to write a new, "modern", Prometheus that did not directly call upon God, but, however, it did directly call on evil.

            The influences that Mary Shelley had were enormous. They were her husband, her parents, her friends, and her mind. Her husband, Percy Shelley, was also a great writer. To her he personified the genius and dedication to human betterment that she had admired her whole life (G.E.W.). And it was probably for this reason why Mary let him watch so closely over her while she wrote Frankenstein (Levine, 4) and why she gave him carte blanche to revise the book (5).

            Her parents were also a big influence on her. Her father was William Godwin and her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft. William Godwin was a philosopher and a novelist. Mary Wollstonecraft was a feminist. From an early age she was subjected to famous philosophers, poets, and writers. She was always treated as if she was a unique individual and her parents put high expectations on her and her potential (G.E.W.). Because of all this she had a lot of her mother's and father's political ideas go  into her book (Levine, xiii).

            It was probably because of her friends that she wrote Frankenstein. They were all at a party at Lord Byron's villa when the played the famous game that motivated her to write Frankenstein (Patterson). Supposedly she was the only one that took the game seriously (Levine, xi).

            But then again, one has to think, "What motivated her to think up all this?" And it was this, her mind, that was another great influence on her and on her work. A nightmare that she had was where she got the idea for Frankenstein (xi). Other influences that her mind had given her was that of two sensational books she had read. The first was John Milton's Paradise Lost (Patterson). And the second was Ovid's Metamorphoses. From Ovid she got the idea of the Prometheus legend. And from Milton, she got the idea of Atom surpassing his master -- God (Levine, 9).

            Dr. Victor Frankenstein has a duel role though-out the book. In one part of Frankenstein, he is a Promethean figure who is striving against human limitations to bring light and to benefit mankind (Bloom, 58) He has given man the gift of life. He was able to mold a living being from clay so to speak (Patterson). The only thing is that Victor creates only a life that causes death. That is a major ironic moment in Frankenstein and Shelly loved to use irony in her books (Levine, 6). By giving man the gift of life, Victor hopes to create a new species that will raise the human race into the heavens, but instead he makes a type of man that...

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