Frankenstein and Mary Shelley Essay

Submitted By eyeofhorus666
Words: 1376
Pages: 6

The philosopher, Socrates believed that knowledge is the path to happiness, but knowledge is made up of many dimensions. Mary Shelley expresses the dangers of pursuing happiness through the obsession of knowledge rather than the reality that true happiness includes the emotional connection between people. In fact, exploring knowledge beyond its natural limits has unpredictable and unmanageable consequences. The author’s science fiction turns to tragedy by using a tone that is not only gloomy and bitter, but also solemn as she scrutinizes the scientist’s creation, morality and harmony with society. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the pursuit of happiness ironically requires an initial sacrifice of happiness in order to deal with the consequences of actions. Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with the mystery of life and although he begins his pursuit with good intentions, he becomes a slave to his passions. In his early years, Frankenstein is passionate about learning, but his emotional connection with Elizabeth keeps him from obsession. When Victor begins to work in Ingolstadt, however, he becomes engrossed in his studies from sunrise to sunset. There, no one can interfere with his ambitious pursuit to, what he believes is, happiness. “So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein—more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.” (pg. 28) Victor refers to himself in third person demonstrating the extent of his ambition and delusions of grandeur. His assertive tone shows that he will not let any horrific consequences stand in his way. He stays true to his words by painstakingly selecting the body parts he will use for his ultimate creation. Such a task was difficult since, during this early eighteenth century time period, tampering with human remains was outlawed and spurned by the church. Victor was aware of his unlawful action; his guilt made him nervous and anxious “the fall of a leaf startled [him]” (pg.34). Yet he was determined to pursue his happiness. “My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person has become emancipated with confinement. Sometimes, on the very brink of certainty, I failed; yet still I clung to the hope which the next day or the next hour might realise.” (pg. 32) Despite the setbacks experienced by Victor, he pushed on in an obsessive state to realize his dream. He sacrificed his health and isolated himself from social contact. In essence Victor’s isolation and obsession cost him his sense of self and health. When scientific beauty turned into the awakening of a monster; Victor was unprepared to handle both his disillusionment and the consequences of his creation. "The beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." (pg.35) Even though Frankenstein had selected the best body parts for his creation, the result was utterly horrifying and shattered all his efforts to create the perfect creature. From the time that he gives life to his monster, Victor is overcome by guilt and succumbs to period of sickness. This is symbolic evidence that is falling into depressed inability to deal with the monster and himself, so he retreats to care of his best friend Henry Clerval. The theme of sickness throughout the novel serves as Victors coping mechanism as a way of distancing himself from reality. His guilt builds when the monster kills his brother, William; additionally, it intensifies when he stands by to allow the family servant, Justine Moritz, die for the crime she did not commit. Further events cause Victor Frankenstein to spiral into the depths of remorse where he tries to escape through traveling. “You accuse me of murder, and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creation.” (pg.70)The quote, spoken by the monster to Victor, reflects Victor’s own hypocrisy and irresponsibility over the monster as his creator…