AP Literature and Composition Period B3
30 September 2011
The Pursuit of Immortality
Since the beginning of written history, humans have sought to have their name written down as conquerors, discoverers, or inventors. But, according to Romantics, a person’s desire for a greater social status or higher dreams will only lead them to misery. Written during the Era of Revolutions, Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus reflects this view that the quest for fame will lead any ordinary man to despair. Mary Shelley attempts to connect Prometheus, the mythological character who brought fire to humans, and Victor Frankenstein, who ventured to play God and both pay for their actions. In the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley emphasizes the idea that the quest for glory will lead to misery; by using the Romantic elements of the beauty of nature, and the Gothic elements of monstrosity and revenge.
Shelley uses elements of Romanticism to portray her thoughts about the Era of Revolutions. One of the main Romantic elements demonstrated in this novel is that the quest of glory will only end in wretchedness. Victor Frankenstein tells Robert Walton to “seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries” (Shelley 193). Victor is encouraging Walton to stay away from ambitions and “seek happiness” by remaining calm and peaceful. Both Walton and Frankenstein, in the exposition, are urged by the rewards of glory. Walton is driven by the urge to be the first to walk upon the vast spaces of the Arctic and Frankenstein is motivated by the fact that he could be the creator of a new species. After failing in his goals, Frankenstein warns Walton not to aspire to his dreams. Frankenstein loses his family, friends, and ultimately his life for this mistake and so he tries to save Walton before such an event can befall him. Shelley also believes that nature...