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Themes in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is one of the greatest books of the nineteenth century that remains relevant today. Shelley explores many topics in her work that reflect social and philosophical aspects. In particular, the work refers to the problems of opposing nature and humanity, as well as the issues of ambition and blind faith in ideals. However, the theme of motherhood and human origins occupies a special place in the book. While Victor strives to design an artificial creature that would honor him as a creator, he also experiences alienation. The death of his mother, who was for Victor’s moral orientation, greatly influenced him, probably making him regret his attitude towards her. Despite his immense passion for science, emotional isolation and frustration with parenting force him to immerse himself in the creation of a monster.

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One of the main themes of the book, which supports all other focuses, is the theme of ambition. Already in the first letter, Robert Walton states: “I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path.” This motif can also be seen in his other letters, which emphasize how important recognition and ambition are to him. In the context of other topics of the book, this aspect can be viewed as the leitmotif of the entire work. In particular, the pursuit of fame is the engine for scientific discovery and the transformation of society. At the same time, such a passion for their ambitions leads characters to tragic consequences and also isolates them from society. It is also important that it completely replaces all other aspirations, as well as connections.

However, this desire to acquire unsurpassed power is a delusion since it assumes that neither Victor nor Walton is aware of flaws. This approach in the future leads to monstrous consequences that overthrow the characters from a height. Despite their belief in their power, Victor and Walton have “weak and faulty natures.” Victor turns out to be the creator of a monster that does not live up to his ideals and aspirations. At the same time, Walton is forced to abandon the continuation of the quest to the North Pole, losing his glory. This factor shows how unstable it is and how idealistic it is. At the same time, the characters are completely confident that they are right and are not aware of the possible consequences of their decisions. For example, Victor devotes his life to creating a monster, after which he is forced to fight it. Thus, he must eradicate his views and ideas, realizing their falsity.

Victor’s aspiration to create life also illustrates the theme of opposition between nature and man. In particular, in conjunction with the idealism and notorious flawless of his ideas, the book refers to nature as a perfect system. In this respect, Victor views himself as a creator and God, and Frankenstein as an ultimatum creation that must surpass all the achievements of nature. However, when the experiment does not give the desired results, it is confirmed that man is hardly able to create something as perfect as nature.

Taken together, these themes lead to another significant focus that Shelley presents in the book. Striving to transcend nature, as well as false ambition, result in the desire for superior knowledge. Even more, Victor strives for infinite knowledge that can potentially provide him with access to the secrets of the perfect creation. However, this shooting overshadows all other values ​​in the life of a scientist, not allowing him to lead a full life. Victor becomes obsessed with his creation, which he refers to as his child. This factor identifies to what extent social values ​​have been replaced by idealistic ones in his consciousness.

This aspect emphasizes Victor’s alienation from society, in particular from his family. These facts form the theme of the family, which is significant for the book. Shelley illustrates the absence of the mother through the characters, as well as through the creation itself and Victor. In particular, the female mother characters in the book have extremely short lives. For example, Victor’s mother, an orphan, died of scarlet fever when she was nursing Elizabeth, who is later killed by a monster. Victor’s desire to create a creature that does not need pregnancy and birth is his denial of maternity. He notes: “a new species would bless me as its creator and source.” Thus, he emphasizes that a child cannot be completely grateful to his parents because he does not consider himself created by them. On the contrary, a man-made creature will be completely subordinate to the creator and be grateful for his work.

The death of his mother has a strong influence on Victor since she was the only example of right and wrong for him. She played the role of some kind of moral limiter and guide, which the scientist lost after her death. Victor notes: “I need not describe the feelings of those whose dearest ties are rent by that most irreparable evil.” This shows that his mother represented him with an emotional connection with reality and society. The scientist comes to the idea of ​​creating a creature after the death of the mother, which is some kind of desire to meet the need for maternity for him.

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The death of his mother and immersion in work on the creation of the creature is also determined by Victor’s isolation from society and family. At an early age, Victor leaves his family to develop his scientific interest, which arose in his childhood. He also does not have close contact with them and does not carry out communication, which underlines his priorities. Thus, the process of his alienation from the family and society gradually begins, which later will result in the creation of a monster. Victor chooses solitude rather than being forced to be in it. He even set his laboratory “in a solitary chamber, or rather cell, as the top of the house.” He spends all his time there creating a monster and further separating himself from society.

These aspects make it possible to judge that Victor is experiencing deep emotional trauma and strives to eradicate it through science. He believes that parenting is not a sufficient means to create a perfect child. Perhaps in this situation, there is a certain self-reflection since Victor himself is an ungrateful child. He pursues his goals by completely abandoning the family, but at the same time, he wants to achieve reverence from the monster he created. Perhaps in this situation, his scientific aspirations are not only the desire for the perfection of knowledge, as well as fame, but also the desire to refute his nature. He realizes that he, as a man created by nature, is defective and does not correspond to his idealistic views.

In general, these themes make it possible to define the broader focus of Sheli’s work, which is to show the impossibility of refuting the order of nature. The book illustrates how blind faith in science and the pursuit of its great achievements can be a source of disaster. The main reason for this result may be the direct delusion of people who do not value the natural system enough. Shelley emphasizes that the desire to change the order is not healthy and has dire consequences. The desire for resistance results in emotional trauma and isolation. At the same time, the monster is a personification of the internal conflict of Victor, who at first completely delved into his ideas but was later forced to abandon them.

Frankenstein presents the reader with many topics that are linked by one common goal. Through the ambition and blind faith in the science of the characters, Shelley illustrates their vices, which characterizes them as natural creatures. The desire to create a man-made creature, on the contrary, shows Victor as an idealist who seeks to change the existing order. In this situation, his human nature, which does not allow him to make accurate predictions and fully determine the consequences, made his mission impossible. The death of his mother, which was the catalyst for his passion, also shows his emotional connection with other people. This aspect also characterizes him as an imperfect social being. Thus, the book discusses important aspects of the character’s internal conflict, which is also an illustration of more global processes.

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