Date Published: January 1, 1818
Book Author: Mary Shelley
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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Experience an unrivaled thrill as the drama of life and death unfolds in 'Frankenstein'; or, 'The Modern Prometheus.' The novel, set in the icy wastelands of the Arctic and the stunning landscapes of Switzerland, teems with a complex mix of human frailty and the hunger for power. Driven by an insatiable desire to breathe life into the lifeless, the young scientist, Victor Frankenstein, plumbs the chilling depths of the unknown. His ambitious endeavour results in a creation that escapes the boundaries of human understanding and control.
A creature birthed from the amalgamation of parts taken from the departed, a new form of life that is both poignant and terrifying in its existence.
The narrative navigates through Victor's relentless pursuit to master the secrets of life and the dire consequences that ensue. A chain of tragic events follow, stitching together a story as heart-rending as the creature's countenance. Victor's reckless pursuit of knowledge serves as a grim reminder of the Pandora's box that science can become when stripped of ethical considerations. Shelley masterfully explores the tumultuous realm of moral and ethical boundaries, human responsibilities, and the profound horror that ensues when these are violated.
A symphony of emotions and dread, 'Frankenstein' is a tale that penetrates the heart of human fear and compassion, ultimately forcing us to confront the monster within us all.
Spoilers (click here to reveal spoilers)
As the repercussions of his reckless scientific endeavor take their full toll, Victor Frankenstein dies, consumed by his relentless pursuit of the monster he created.
He perishes in the icy expanse of the Arctic aboard Walton's ship, his final breaths filled with regret and a desperate plea for the destruction of his creation.
The creature, upon discovering his creator's demise, is overwhelmed with remorse and sorrow, articulating a profound loneliness and despair.
Understanding the horror of his existence and the torment he has caused, he vows to end his own life.
He disappears into the icy wilderness, leaving behind an echo of his lament and an unsettling understanding of the true monstrosity born of unchecked ambition.
Victor Frankenstein: A brilliant scientist driven by ambition and a thirst for knowledge, his desire to uncover the secrets of life leads him to create the creature. Victor is remorseful and tormented by his actions, exemplified when he abandons his creation out of horror and regret.
The Creature: Victor’s creation, a being stitched together from parts of the deceased. Despite his monstrous appearance, the creature possesses a deep desire for companionship and acceptance, demonstrated when he pleads with Victor to create a mate for him.
Robert Walton: The explorer who rescues Victor in the Arctic, his ambition mirrors Victor’s, shown in his unyielding desire to reach the North Pole. Walton serves as the listener to Victor’s tragic tale.
Dangerous Knowledge: The novel explores the hazards of unchecked scientific exploration and the consequences of surpassing boundaries of natural order, evident in Victor’s creation of the creature.
Alienation: The creature, despite his desire for companionship, is continually rejected and isolated because of his horrifying appearance, illustrating the harsh consequences of societal rejection.
Responsibility and Regret: Victor’s failure to take responsibility for his creation and the ensuing guilt, regret, and destructive repercussions underline this theme.
Nature vs Nurture: Shelley explores whether the creature’s actions are the result of his inherent nature or his experiences, visible in the creature’s transformation from an innocent being to a vengeful monster due to societal rejection.