The Alienation of Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Faustus

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The Alienation of Victor Frankenstein and Dr. John Faustus

Victor Frankenstein and John Faustus are two characters that are alienated because of their intellectual curiosity. Faustus’s and Frankenstein’s pursuits of knowledge begin with an inexorable journey to their downfalls as they become alienated. Both characters attempt to exceed human ability and are alienated from God because of their attempts. These men are concerned with the secrets of nature and are ultimately alienated from the world because of their quests which violate nature. They are alienated from themselves because of their extreme passions for knowledge. Faustus and Frankenstein could escape their tragic endings and their alienation's if only they had fortitude.

According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1985), alienation is “of or belonging to another person or place, foreign in nature or character, the action of a stranger, or a state of estrangement, or a withdrawing or separation of a person or his affections from and object or position of former attachment”. According to the class lecture on alienation, Raymond Williams defines alienation as “ cutting off or being cut off from God, a state of being cut off or estranged from the knowledge of God or from his mercy or worship, loss of original human nature, or a loss of connection with one’s deepest feelings and needs or sense of powerlessness”(notes).

Victor Frankenstein’s journey begins with his notable childhood. Victor is extremely loved by his parents and they bestow upon him a wonderful and educated life as a child. Victor states, “During every hour of my infant life I received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self-control”(39). However his downfall begins as he develops a desire for the knowledge of the metaphysical or physical secrets of the world. He attends the University of Ingolstaldt and begins his work on the creature. The task consumes him, and he rejects his family and his upbringing that are so full of love and contentment. Victor states, “And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I had not seen for so long a time”(40). Victor disregards the lessons that he learned as a child and becomes obsessed. He loses his patience and his self-control, which result in his alienation.

John Faustus’s journey begins when he is a young man. His parents send him to school and he studies and becomes a very intelligent doctor. The chorus says of Faustus, “Excelling all, and sweetly can dispute In th’ heavenly matters of theology”(Prologue). Faustus begins his downfall as he searches for knowledge but complains that he has not accomplished any great featc. Faustus confuses knowledge with power and wants to learn the black arts so that he can become a supreme being.

Victor Frankenstein attempts and completes one of God’s greatest miracles. He creates a human life. In his attempt and completion of playing God, he loses all faith and contemplation of his higher being. Victor asserts, “I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit”(39). After the being’s creation, Victor realizes that he must destroy it. Instead of praying to God and asking for advice, he takes matters into his own hands and pursues for the death of his creature. Perhaps Victor is alienated from God in the sense that he feels himself a supreme being, a creator, or an arbiter of who shall live and die.

Faustus attempts and succeeds in surpassing human ability by involving himself with the devil and possessing certain black magic powers. Faustus gives in to the Seven Deadly Sins and sells his soul to the devil. Faustus states, “Ay, take it, and the devil give thee good of it”(2.1.22). Selling one’s soul to the devil is essentially alienating oneself from God and the grace of God. However, although Faustus is deemed a possession of the devil, he is not completely alienated from...
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