Key Themes in Frankenstein
Frankenstein, also known as the Modern Prometheus, is a novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley. The book covers both the Catholic and Romantic genres while following the life of a scientist whose curiosity pushes him to create a creature that affects the lives of the people in the society. Mary wrote this book while depicting various significant themes that highlight the powers of individuals and the society as well as the consequences of their actions. This essay discusses the diverse key themes highlighted by Mary in Frankenstein.
Birth and Creation
This is a primary theme that runs throughout the novel. Frankenstein portrays the life and story of a scientist (a man) who imitates the creation role of God. This man, known as Victor, eliminates both women and God from the picture and tries to create a society that has men only. For instance, he tries to assume the role of God by eliminating the part women play mainly in giving birth naturally through sex. Ideally, God created Adam and Eve and commanded them to multiply and fill the earth. There is a point when a man and a woman will come together sexually to bring forth children. However, Mary displays Victor as a man who does not believe in the Biblical myth. He does something that disrupts the usual unity of a family. As he creates a creature without a companion, it turns into a monster that costs Victor dearly. This theme signifies the need to respect God's natural order and maintain the set boundaries because interrupting it may cost the lives and rationality of the people.
The novel portrays this theme through Walton and Victor. Both dream of becoming scientific achievers by transforming the society, and this makes them fallible. Frankenstein notes that ambition has the potential to create evil. Victor's ambition is vast. He tries to compare it with the destruction of the world's civilizations shown by slavery in Greece, the destruction of Caesar's country, and the demolition of empires in Peru and Mexico. Although ambition alone cannot make one to become evil, the ideas display Frankenstein as Satan and the devil incarnate. Both Walton and Frankenstein have ambitions, but Walton chooses to focus on his crew's duty while Victor places it above anything else.
The novel pinpoints that alienation causes evil and the consequent punishment that accompanies it. The monster created by Frankenstein believes that it is a murderer because of its alienation from humankind. It says that, "My protectors had departed, and had broken the only link that held me to the world…revenge and hatred filled my bosom." Although the creature believes that alienation makes it a murderer, it is killing that expands the alienation. Besides, Frankenstein alienates himself from society as he does not tell anyone about his creation and makes him compare to Satan's character of alienating from God, as depicted in Paradise Lost poem.
Family and Isolation
Both Walton and Frankenstein are trying to align themselves with the other people, but it is clear that there is still isolation in the novel. Robert Walton communicates with his sister through letters as Victor tries to link with his family. However, they continue feeling isolated from the rest of the society members in the world. It is the isolation that makes Walton focus on expeditions while Victor concentrates entirely on his lab experiments that make him a prisoner. Notably, the monster tries to look for the low-income family's company to avoid isolation from the rest of the world. This creature wants what Victor turns away and, in this case, wishes to have the De Lacey family’s embrace. Also, the creature confronts Victor for a companion, and when not given what it wants, it becomes a monster that murders for revenge.
De Lacey and Frankenstein families accommodate the orphans (Safie and Elizabeth) present in the novel, giving the two the much-needed family love. In this case, the story portrays the family as the sole source of love, power, and knowledge. Nevertheless, the families in the novel are the source of conflict and present the potential for loss. While the De Lacey family faces poverty, lack of compassion and lack of motherly love, the Frankenstein family faces ambition and revenge.
This theme relates to the beliefs driven by the idea of Romanticism that demonstrates the natural world’s unfathomable power and beauty. After William and Justine die, Victor goes to the mountains to lift his spirits, although he is the one responsible for their deaths. Despite the novel's portrayal of the influence of nature on the mood, fear of attack by the monster haunts Victor. Nature assumes an Arctic Desert to show the original struggle against the creature when Victor manages to chase it away.
The themes provide an essential backdrop knowledge and ideas of the novel. They also make one to understand the characteristics of various characters and how they work towards expounding Mary's work on Frankenstein.