Victor's Destruction in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Mary Shelley, in her book Frankenstein, makes several allusions to the fact that Victor Frankenstein is usurping the role of God in bringing his creature to life. The point of the book seems to be that a human who attempts to usurp the role of God will be heavily punished. Victor Frankenstein is severely punished. He loses everyone he loves before perishing himself in the arctic wastes. But did he really "play God" or did he merely unleash his own id and destroy himself?
Allusions to Frankenstein's identification with God are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. From an early age Frankenstein identifies himself with God through his study of metaphysics. "It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn (23)," Frankenstein says. From an early age it was the metaphysical secrets of life and death that obsessed Frankenstein. It was this interest that led him to study the alchemists. A choice that he believed brought about his own downfall.
Frankenstein fears for his sanity. He exhorts us more than once to "remember that he is not recounting the visions of a madman (37)." Yet he fears so much that he will be thought mad that he doesn't reveal that his creature killed William, even though it means the death of Justine, who was wrongly convicted of the murder. Frankenstein protests his own sanity so strenuously throughout the book that one begins to wonder if he is, in fact sane.
The image of Frankenstein as God is reinforced in the dialog between Victor and the creature when they meet on the summit of Montanvert (Chapter 10). The creature says:
I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous (84).
It is this ambition to be Adam rather than a fallen angel that leads the creature to extort a promise to create a mate for him from Frankenstein. It is partly because Frankenstein made the creature larger and stronger than himself that he is vulnerable to the threats of the monster. This is not all of the story, however. Frankenstein, although he resolves more than once to kill the creature and be done with it, never attempts to harm the creature in any way.
First, on Montanvert, he is moved by the...