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By | April 2006
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The Destructive Power of Monomania

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein emphasizes the dangers of monomania by illustrating how Victor Frankenstein's obsessive pursuit to defeat death leads to the destruction of his own friends and family, and eventually, himself. In the beginning Frankenstein is portrayed as a bright and intelligent young boy with a deep interest in science. However, his obsessive pursuit of his scientific "invention" and consequent reckless disregard of moral and social values leads to the downward spiral in his life.

After the death of his mother, Frankenstein is possessed by a hopeless vengeance against Death, the force that he believes caused his life to diverge from his "amiable" (20) childhood. He is obsessed with a desire to save people from this terrible force. Ironically however, rather than pouring a "torrent of light into [their] dark world," (32) his quest to make men invincible to the force of Death only makes them more vulnerable, and he finds himself indirectly murdering the very people he is so eager to save.

Frankenstein allows his "enthusiasm of success" (32) to consume him to the extent that he foolishly detaches himself from both his family as well as society. His aggressive focus causes him to develop a posture of secrecy and self-isolation, from which many catastrophic events in the story unfold. The toil in which he is "engaged, heart and soul" (32) drags him away from his former life and loved ones, causing him to "forget those friends" (33) who had once made him whole and neglect correspondence with his father and cousin, Elizabeth.

The dramatic step Frankenstein takes away from his family also begins the severance of his ties with reality, and, in effect, his sanity. Throughout Frankenstein's life, he considers Elizabeth as his "best hope, and the purest creature on earth," (135) who provides a sweet reminder of humanity to offset his obsession with the scientific world. She inherently serves as the heart to...

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