Great Fictional Icons in the Nineteenth Century: Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus”

English Literature has witnessed the formation of four great fictional icons in the nineteenth century. They are Shelley’s Frankenstein, Melville’s Moby Dick, Stoker’s Dracula and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus is rendered in opulent Gothic prose. It delves into the intricacies of the human mind and reflects on the ambitions of man, his purpose and his relation to God. The story unfolds with Victor Frankenstein narrating the events to Walton and the purpose of his visit to the cold Artic. Victor Frankenstein, a native of Geneva is fascinated by the sciences, and the enigma that revolves around life and death. As a young student at the University of Ingolstadt he is profoundly influenced by the lectures of chemistry Professor Waldman, which eventually alters the course of his life. Through his studies he unearths the secret of breathing life into dead flesh. He painstakingly begins work on testing his discovery and is rudely shocked at the ghastly outcome. Revolted by the creature’s appearance which was a stark contrast to what he hoped to create, he rejects his creation (Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, 2008).

The creation is a monster. Rejected by the creator the scary looking creature takes refuge in the woods. The creature is not given a name as none had ever seen such a creation thereby indicating its strange nature as well as human vulnerability to reject. Our heart goes out to the creature as the story progresses and is undoubtedly the most tragic figure in this novel. The narrative of the creature is one of an unwanted child abandoned merely because of its ugliness. It includes the hardships the monster encounters and getting accustomed to an entirely new universe with none to lead the way. The creature gets acclimatized to the new environs through experimenting and learning. It is mesmerized by the sheer sight of the sun and the moon indicating its ability to appreciate beauty (Vrankova, p.2-3).

The monster, though visually repulsive is one which has feelings and intellect. The writer depicts its great efforts to find its standing in the human society and its confrontations with its identity and origin. Therefore the monster learns to read and speak. It yearns for companionship and looks out for similar creations (Poor, Helpless, Miserable Wretch). The creature’s encounter with the De Lacey’s gives it the much needed exposure to the ways of the civilized world. This arouses the desire of friendship and jealousy. On being rejected by the De Lacey’s the monster is enraged and this marks the beginning of its monstrosities (Vrankova, p.2-3).It seeks revenge on its creator who shuns him, by killing Victor’s brother. The creature confronts Frankenstein and lays his demand for a life partner like himself with whom he promises to live in obscurity. Though Frankenstein initially agrees to create a female monster, he is later tormented by probable outcome of this experiment that could be more terrible and which would pave the way for more appalling progenies in the future. He throws away the body parts assembled for the creation of the female. This enrages the creature. The monster then seeks revenge by destroying all that Frankenstein loved and cherished which included his friends and bride. On his death bed Frankenstein makes an unbiased review of his actions, he recounts that the cause for his misfortune did not stem from his aspiration of creating life but from the abuse of his creation. He admits that his inability to assume responsibility for his creation was his greatest failure. The monster is engulfed by overpowering repentance on his monstrosities; he then takes his life by plunging into the cold waves of the Artic (Poor, Helpless, Miserable Wretch).

This marks the tragic end of the creature which only seeks to be a part of this world and was forced into existence. His misdeeds are nothing but his response to the abuse inflicted on him. He only yearns to be a part of this beautiful world and be accepted and loved. It must be noted that the tormented soul is indeed a gentle being forced into violence because of the rejection it faces from all. Its loneliness coupled with the rejection adds to its frustration and finds vent in the form of violence. Inflicting pain on the one who it believed was the cause of its misery and was the means to give him momentary satisfaction. Eventually his conscience gets the better of him and forces him to take his own life. Thus all the main characters in the novel meet with their end due to the tragic figure. Death is bestowed on others by the monster because the monster himself was a tragedy.

Works Cited

. 2008. Ava.

Poor, Helpless, Miserable Wretch. 2002.

Vrankova, Kamila. “Frankenstein: Mary Shelley’s Horror of Split Conscience”. Web.