The Nature of Humanity in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein examines the very nature of humanity through the juxtaposition of two characters, Victor Frankenstein and the creature. The curious creature has an innocent desire to learn whereas Victor Frankenstein pursues his blasphemed ambition. The creature has a sincere desire to belong in the human world but he is incapable of properly presenting himself whereas Victor Frankenstein isolates himself from humanity to hide his guilt. The sympathetic creature is an innately good being who was turned evil by a rejecting society whereas Victor Frankenstein is full of hatred and revenge. The creature’s actions and qualities weighed against those of his creator in a moral standard combine to make him more qualitively human than Victor.
Victor Frankenstein’s pursuit of knowledge is deleterious to himself and everyone around him whereas the creature has a genuine desire to become more human. Frankenstein fails to preserve his morality by attempting to attain god-like power. His curiosity for the secrets of life is sinful, like Adam and Eve who ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Frankenstein “seems to have lost all soul or sensation but for [his] one pursuit.”1
1 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (New York: A Division of Random House Inc., 2003) 40. From the beginning of his work, Frankenstein is becoming dehumanized. His mind being completely occupied with the creature and its murderous endeavors, Frankenstein moves farther and farther away from humanity. Victor Frankenstein’s interests in alchemy and ancient science are worthless in his modern world. However, Victor ignores Mr. Krempe’s suggestion of studying natural philosophy and furthers his interests in discovering the secrets of life. Victor Frankenstein has the potential to become a helpful being to the world but his mistaken choice leads him to become a destroyer of several lives. Unlike Victor Frankenstein, the...
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