Good v. Evil: Which is Which
By: Logan Emlet
Frankenstein is a literally fantastic novel, in which a gentle creation, the Monster, is shunned by his creator, Victor Frankenstein, as well as all other humans. The Monster becomes so dejected that he turns murderous and vows to destroy Victor’s life. The book is definitely fiction, as the Monster happens to be eight feet tall and superior to humans in almost every way save looks. Although this is probably the most evident distortion from reality, many others appear although not quite so blatantly. In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelly uses symbolism and distortions between the world of the book and the real world to demonstrate the truth of Romantic ideals. According to Webster’s dictionary, symbolism is defined as, “artistic imitation or invention that is a method of revealing or suggesting immaterial, ideal, or otherwise intangible truth or states.” The dictionary defines distort as, “to twist out of natural, normal, or original shape or condition,” and as, “to cause to be perceived unnaturally.” While these two words may not always mean the same thing, in the case of this essay, they complement each other to better describe the differences at hand. One of the principle beliefs of the Romantics was that symbolism is the cleanest way to communicate truth. Their literature supports their thought that symbolism has the power to mean many different things simultaneously. In their literature, romantics do not use literary realism, but instead use this symbolism to critique or comment on reality by distorting this reality. One of the things that the Romantics strongly believed and is clearly portrayed in Frankenstein is the evil of the unnatural, and that nature is inherently good. For the Romantics, unnatural meant anything mechanical; hell was unnatural as well, along with evil, and knowledge. The unnaturalness of knowledge is a particularly important part of Frankenstein. Repeating throughout the novel, examples are shown of knowledge that brings suffering to its seekers. What brings the most pain to Victor throughout the novel is the knowledge of how to bring life to a being. This knowledge led to the creation of a creature that destroyed the lives of those around him. Before Victor actually undertook the creation of his creature, he first spent months of study and research in order to discover how to give life. After Victor possessed this knowledge it was human nature for him to test his theory. Like a child who is told not to do something, Victor was compelled to do something considered taboo by the standards of his society, and fulfill his curiosity. This fulfillment brought him untold tragedy and pain. The knowledge of creation directly ruined the rest of his life. Victor actually says, although it is probably more likely Mary Shelly, “You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been.” This quotation fairly screams out the evil that knowledge has wrought upon Victor. In reality, of course, it was impossible to create life back then as it is impossible to complete such a feat today. According to the Romantics, all knowledge is bad, but the knowledge of creation was especially bad because life is supposed to be a very natural thing. The Monster’s this life was manufactured and so not natural, creating almost a double evil. Another piece of evil knowledge shown in this novel is the Monster’s knowledge of human beings and their interactions. The Monster is inquisitive and curious of the others around him. He feels inclined to observe the humans with the hope that some day he will be accepted by them. Yet this interaction is highly unnatural. It would have been far wiser for the Monster to live as a beast in the forest. Unfortunately he sought knowledge and was shunned by human kind as a disgusting lout. Without knowledge of humans, he would never have been...
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