In Mary Shelley’s book, Frankenstein, there are many themes present throughout the book. In the introduction there is a theme of mystery as the story is just about to start. As Victor Frankenstein’s story unfolds, we see his family life, research, and soon his obsession for his new occupation, that is, solving the problem of Death. He wants to make a being by himself and, he is a man who believes in his goals and will go to any limits to achieve them. Death is introduced for the first time when it is described how Victor’s mother had died. Death is one of the major themes of this text.
As Victor tries to play God and creates another being he does not realise that he is doing something wrong, something that only God is allowed to do. He creates a being which is eight feet in height and extremely strong built. It is extremely fearsome looking as its body is large and face distorted. As he has brought him to life, Victor, instead of trying to take care of it and helping it to survive in this world, Victor runs out of his house, leaving the ‘monster’ that he has created to live by itself. The creature swears that he will kill his creator, and the theme is strengthened since he was created.
Since his creator had played God and created him, he will also play God by doing something that only God should be allowed to do, to take away the life of people. As Victor is creating this new being, many emotions run through him. “My person had become emaciated with confinement”- Shelley underscores the perfect irony of Victor’s increasing death-like- thoughts as he attempts to create another human. In his attempt to liberate that being from death into the freedom of life, he voluntarily commits himself to a prison of his own making. He loses all his emotions and thought processes and is completely engrossed in his occupation.
In the middle of his project, Victor is interrupted by Elizabeth, his fianci?? e. She pleads for the cancellation of his project due to the plague. But, he refuses putting the importance of his occupation above her and even his own life. After he refuses her and the value of his own life, he realizes what he has done and his creation becomes more frantic and serious. “I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation” – the terms become starker and starker, now directly figured as beyond Victor’s control, the operations of destiny where he is a mere pawn.
As he nears success in his endeavour to create a new being, it is almost as if his life is sucked out and imparted to his creation. In Elizabeth’s letter, as Justine’s background is discussed. Justine was orphaned just about the same time when Victor gave life to his creation. As she was a normal person, Alphonse Frankenstein adopted her, but his son on the other hand, leaves his creation to face the world alone. As the story moves on, Victor receives a letter from his father saying that William is dead. Victor feels extremely depressed as his youngest brother has died and returns to Geneva to mourn his brother’s death with his family.
Justine has been blamed for his death and her trial is in a couple of days. It is then that Victor realises that it is the being that he created that has taken his own brother’s life. From now, the theme of death occurs more frequently. Justine is declared guilty and executed, and this fills Victor with grief. He becomes consumed with his own guilt; knowing that the monster he created and the cloak of secrecy with which the creation took place have now caused the death of two members of his family. After the death of Justine, Victor is saddened and becomes extremely melancholy.
His father takes his family to their family home at Belrive to cheer him up. The beautiful scenery and environment cheers his for a while, but then one day vengeance fills inside him. He decides that he will destroy the being that he’s created and travels to the summit of Montanvert to calm himself down. He comes across the ‘monster’ who takes him to his cave and explains his story. He is extremely eloquent and surprisingly can speak in English. The monster begins to narrate the incidents that took place in his life as soon as they are seated in his cave.
As his story unfolds, the second major theme, Alienation, is brought out. Firstly, the narrator uses the word ‘monster’ to describe his creation. The creature describes how, in search of food he finds a hut and enters it. There, his presence causes and old man to scream and run away in fear. As he walks in the village the people flee as soon as they see him. He is saddened and feels isolated in this world and vows to stay away from humans. He says disappointedly that he was not born evil, nor is corruption his fault. He only becomes so violent when he was shunned, beaten and persecuted by the selfish human race.
He saves a girl from drowning and he is shot. The monster, when looked superficially, is an ugly and gigantic beast, which is extremely cruel and heartless. But on looking more closely and deeply we realise that he is just a poor soul, who is trying to fit into this world, but he is beaten and cursed and chased. He says that he is the only one of his kind and so the society refuses to accept him. “I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. ”
He pleads with Victor to create another moster, female, so she can give him company and that he will go to a forest in South Africa and live there never to be heard of again. Victor realises the value of having company as he also is a character who is alienated from others. This is due to his desire for knowledge, and the magnanimous amount of time he spends in completing his scientific experiments. “I must absent myself from all I loved while thus employed. ” The theme of alienation is also shown through the creature that Victor has created.
The sufferings of the creature in the novel are also the result of being alienated, but unlike Victor, he does not bring it onto himself. Instead, people of the society alienate the monster because of his horrible looks. “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath his watery eyes, that seems almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and strait black lips. Victor agrees to create him a companion as he realises that he was the one to create this monster and then abandon him.
He realises that after experiencing such brutality from the people of the society, the monsters long for love and compassion has increased a lot but also realises that he will never be accepted by human life forms. The monster expresses his feelings – “How inconsistent are your feelings! But a moment ago you were move by my representations, and why do you again harden yourself to my complaints? I swear to you, by the earth which I inhabit, and by you who that made me, that with the companion you bestow I will quit the neighbourhood of man and dwell, as it may chance, in the most savage of places.
My evil passion will have fled, for I shall meet with my sympathy! My life will flow quietly and in my dying moments I shall not curse my maker. ” So, Victor returns to his lab and begins working on another monster, just so that the creature he had originally created has a companion and that his sense of isolation can be removed. But when he is almost done creating his new life form, he does not want to finish his project and he discards his work into the ocean. This angers the monster a lot and he kills Victor’s closest friend, Henry Clerval.
Again, the original theme of Death overshadows the theme of isolation. Victor is heartbroken and says “Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of life? Two I have already destroyed; other victims await their destiny; but you, Clerval, my friend, my benefactor. ” The monster vows that he will take his revenge on Victor’s wedding night, and so saying he disappears. On his wedding night Victor tells Elizabeth to retire early and is outside his house waiting for the monster. He then realises that it is not him the monster wanted to kill but Elizabeth.
He rushes into the room only to see his newlywed wife, dead. Soon his father also dies and he is left alone to face the world. He promises that he will destroy the monster he has created even if that leads to his death. He sails with his friend, Walton, in search of the monster, but soon, even he dies on board. The monster is found weeping in the room where his creator’s corpse is lying. He is overcome by grief as he realises that it was his fault that his creator and his family have all died. He asks for forgiveness and says that even he will die shortly now.
So saying, he jumps off the ship into his small vessel and disappears. The score seems to end on a diminished chord, but then resolves to a major signifying conclusion, although it is still a heavy ending. In conclusion, Frankenstein, although being fairly old, portrays many themes out of which Death and Isolation are the main themes. Other themes are Guilt, Imagination, Horror, Science Fiction and also playing God. These themes are seen throughout the book, which is what makes it enjoyable and attention grabbing.