In this essay, I will explore the different factors that contribute to Victor Frankenstein’s tragic fate. Firstly, the main cause is that of his persistent search for knowledge. He was so addicted to his work that he had no time for anybody, not even his fianci??e, and totally excluded himself from the outside world. This later caught up with him in life. Also, the subtitle of the novel is “The Modern Prometheus. ” Prometheus was a mythological figure who was punished for stealing fire and giving it to the people for their benefit. This is similar to Victor, who self-destructs in his quest for knowledge.
Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” during the nineteenth century, about the time before the gothic horror genre had really ‘taken off’. “Frankenstein” is believed to be one of the first gothic horror novels ever written. It was written in the summer of 1816 when Mary Shelley went to the Swiss Alps in Geneva with some friends. It was a dismal day, so they decided to have a competition between themselves to see who could write the best ghost story, and for entertainment purposes. This is where the plot for “Frankenstein” was first thought up.
The gothic genre is written to shock and startle readers with the intense gore and horror involved such as murders and corpses. The nineteenth century was also a year with vast advances in science and technology, with inventions such as the light bulb, the steam train and the bicycle. It also forms part of the science fiction genre, as it warns us about the scientific advances of that time and shows us the horrific consequences of irresponsibility, that too much scientific knowledge can lead to. The novel alerts us to scientific developments today e. g. loning, gene therapy and genetic engineering. In order to explore the cause of the tragedy, I will take Victor’s attitude to scientific knowledge as my starting point. At university, he develops a strong interest in science, which becomes an unhealthy obsession for him. This is shown by the statement “In a scientific pursuit, there is continual food for discovery and wonder. ”
This shows his appetite for knowledge in a metaphor, which shows that he is living off new discoveries. He also develops a morbid fascination with death. This is reflected in the quote, “I beheld the corruption. This shows that he now accepts and almost admires death and decay, which is quite disturbing. He lets work take over his life and shuts himself off from the outside world. As a result of this, he loses all sense of reality; “I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit. ” This suggests that he is totally cut off and that he has lost his sense of humanity. This leaves him with no knowledge of right or wrong, which is extremely dangerous considering the nature of his work: creating life. Another source of Victor’s tragic fate is his ambition to create life.
This turns him into a Promethean figure that oversteps his human boundaries. Victor is arrogant, egotistical and self-absorbed. He feels that he has been ‘chosen’ for the ‘noble’ task of creating life. He is a megalomaniac. He says, “I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret. ” This shows that he feels privileged and chosen for this task, this is what makes him arrogant, as if he is somehow special above others. He wants to break new ground in science to gain glory, fame, respect and most importantly, pride.
He exclaims, “Which procured me great esteem and admiration and the university. This shows that he wants to be respected and well known amongst others so his work will be world-renowned. He pictures himself as a mother giving birth to life and he assumes that the creature will love him and thank him for its birth “After so much time spent in painful labour. ” He seems to believe that the monster will want him as its parent, yet this metaphor is worrying because he is going against nature in creating life. However, he is so eager to make this new scientific discovery that he does not take enough care over the creation of the being. He does not consider how the being would live in the world.
This is shown by the line “As the minuteness of the parts formed a great hinderome to my speed; I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic structure. ” This shows that he does not consider that the monster will be rejected and excluded from all mankind. It demonstrates his irresponsibility and lack of love because he rushes the creation in order to reach fame more quickly. The tragedy is also brought about by the way in which people react to the monster, who will obviously not welcome an 8-foot freak into their society. When the creation is finished, victor is repulsed.
He is incapable of loving the being he has created. This is proved by him saying, “breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. ” This shows that he starts to hate the creature and he rejects it himself. Instead of staying to determine why the experiment went wrong or to take care of the creature, he runs away from his responsibilities. Victor even says himself that he “Couldn’t have persuaded myself to confide in him. ” It shows that he is trying to forget its existence and ignore it. Other humans also unsurprisingly reject the monster, as they are frightened of its grotesque appearance and gigantic structure.
This is why the monster turns ‘bad’. The monster later says to itself, “There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me. ” This shows how he feels hatred for humans, because he is rejected by all mankind. In conclusion, the tragic fate of Victor Frankenstein is brought about by himself and his own personality. Mary Shelley is showing us that Victor is arrogant and selfish. This is a warning to act with care when advancing science as Victor shows us all that he lived his life carelessly, proud, egotistical and unwillingly. He was a man who had his enemies and deserved what he got.