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Frankenstein by Mary Shelly deals with the theme of perseverance, betrayal, revenge, isolation and alienation, ambition, and responsibility. The novel is about the destructiveness of the negative ambitions of Victor Frankenstein, who has to struggle with the monster he creates as a result of neglect, isolation, and alienation. Frankenstein is a masterpiece novel and the finest book written by English author Mary Shelly. The book has been an enduring literary work that has been adopted into popular culture.
Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus is a thriller and timeless novel that has profound teaching. Mary Shelly began writing the Novel at the age of 18 and published it when she was 20 in London in 1818. The book has inspired a lot of movies, TV-series, books, and plays and received wide acclamation from readers and critics for its profound teaching, artistry, and creativity.
Frankenstein has sold millions of copies. In 1994, Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in a movie that has the adaptation of Shelley’s novel. The movie also starred Helena Bonham, Carter Tom Hulce, and Robert De Niro. There was also a commendable in 1931 where Boris Karloff acted as the wolfman. In 1935 and 1939, the world enjoyed other adaptations such as Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein. Mary Shelly’s work has even inspired some spoofs, such as Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder.
Only a few books can match the commercial success of the novel Frankenstein. According to Forbes, Frankenstein has sold more than 5 million copies and has spent more than 100 weeks as a best-seller on the New York Times list.
In a series of letters, Robert Walton, the captain of a ship bound for the North Pole, recounts to his sister back in England the progress of his dangerous mission. Successful early on, the mission is soon interrupted by seas full of impassable ice. Trapped, Walton encounters Victor Frankenstein, who has been traveling by dog-drawn sled across the ice and is weakened by the cold. Walton takes him aboard ship, helps nurse him back to health, and hears the fantastic tale of the monster that Frankenstein created.
Victor first describes his early life in Geneva. At the end of a blissful childhood spent in the company of Elizabeth Lavenza (his cousin in the 1818 edition, his adopted sister in the 1831 edition) and friend Henry Clerval, Victor enters the University of Ingolstadt to study natural philosophy and chemistry. There, he is consumed by the desire to discover the secret of life and, after several years of research, becomes convinced that he has found it.
Victor, armed with the knowledge he has long been seeking, spends months feverishly fashioning a creature out of old body parts. One climactic night, in the secrecy of his apartment, he brings his creation to life. When he looks at the monstrosity that he has created, however, the sight horrifies him. After a fitful night of sleep, interrupted by the specter of the monster looming over him, he runs into the streets, eventually wandering in remorse. Victor runs into Henry, who has come to study at the university, and he takes his friend back to his apartment. Though the monster is gone, Victor falls into a feverish illness.
Sickened by his horrific deed, Victor prepares to return to his family in Geneva. Just before departing Ingolstadt, however, he receives a letter from his father informing him that his youngest brother, William, has been murdered. Victor hurries home grief-stricken. While passing through the woods where William was strangled, he catches sight of the monster and becomes convinced that the monster is his brother’s murderer. Arriving in Geneva, Victor finds that Justine Moritz, a kind, gentle girl who had been adopted by the Frankenstein household, has been accused. She is tried, condemned, and executed, despite her assertions of innocence. Victor grows despondent, guilty with the knowledge that the monster he has created bears responsibility for the death of two innocent loved ones.
Hoping to ease his grief, Victor takes a vacation to the mountains. While he is alone one day, crossing an enormous glacier, the monster approaches him. The monster admits to the murder of William but begs for understanding. Lonely, shunned, and forlorn, he says that he struck out at William in a desperate attempt to injure Victor, his cruel creator. The monster begs Victor to create a mate for him, a monster equally grotesque to serve as his sole companion.
Victor refuses at first, horrified by the prospect of creating a second monster. The monster is eloquent and persuasive, however, and he eventually convinces Victor. After returning to Geneva, Victor heads for England, accompanied by Henry, to gather information for the creation of a female monster. Leaving Henry in Scotland, he secludes himself on a desolate island in the Orkneys and works reluctantly at repeating his first success. One night, struck by doubts about the morality of his actions, Victor glances out the window to see the monster glaring in at him with a frightening grin. Horrified by the possible consequences of his work, Victor destroys his new creation. The monster, enraged, vows revenge, swearing that he will be with Victor on Victor’s wedding night.
Later that night, Victor takes a boat out onto a lake and dumps the remains of the second creature in the water. The wind picks up and prevents him from returning to the island. In the morning, he finds himself ashore near an unknown town. Upon landing, he is arrested and informed that he will be tried for a murder discovered the previous night. Victor denies any knowledge of the murder, but when shown the body, he is shocked to behold his friend Henry Clerval, with the mark of the monster’s fingers on his neck. Victor falls ill, raving and feverish, and is kept in prison until his recovery, after which he is acquitted of the crime.
Shortly after returning to Geneva with his father, Victor marries Elizabeth. He fears the monster’s warning and suspects that he will be murdered on his wedding night. To be cautious, he sends Elizabeth away to wait for him. While he awaits the monster, he hears Elizabeth scream and realizes that the monster had been hinting at killing his new bride, not himself. Victor returns home to his father, who dies of grief a short time later. Victor vows to devote the rest of his life to finding the monster and exacting his revenge, and he soon departs to begin his quest.
Victor tracks the monster ever northward into the ice. In a dogsled chase, Victor almost catches up with the monster, but the sea beneath them swells, and the ice breaks, leaving an unbridgeable gap between them. At this point, Walton encounters Victor, and the narrative catches up to the time of Walton’s fourth letter to his sister.
Walton tells the remainder of the story in another series of letters to his sister. Victor, already ill when the two men meet, worsens and dies shortly after that. When Walton returns, several days later, to the room in which the body lies, he is startled to see the monster weeping over Victor. The monster tells Walton of his immense solitude, suffering, hatred, and remorse. He asserts that now that his creator has died, he too can end his suffering. The monster then departs for the northernmost ice to die.
Perseverance is the continuous act of doing something despite facing continuous delays or challenges. Victor Frankenstein, who is the doomed protagonist and the narrator, is the epitome of perseverance. Even amid adversity, his show of perseverance is quite remarkable. He is very diligent and meticulous in executing his duties. This character in him would always take him away from the common pathways of men. Sometimes, it will take him to the wide sea and other uncommon regions. In situations of difficulties, his courage and persistence would be invigorated, and he always calls on heaven to support him.
There are a lot of real-life circumstances readers might never know until they read this amazing novel. This theme also teaches children and adults to keep their principles even in the face of adversities. It also teaches readers about the power of dreams and visualization.
Vengeance and Betrayal
Betrayal is the act of being harmed by the intentional actions of someone else. The most common forms of betrayal are disloyalty, infidelity, dishonesty, and harmful disclosures of confidential information. These actions can be traumatic and cause considerable distress in people and often lead them to take vengeance. The effects of betrayal are enormous, and it could include intense anger, damaged self-esteem, poor confidence, restlessness, illness, shock, grief. Different characters in the book experience all these. After facing betrayal and negligence, the monster vows for vengeance.
Betrayal and injustices are a major occurrence in Frankenstein, and Mary Shelley illustrates it in two ways. Justine is tried in a court after falsely accusing her of murdering William. And then the court gladly orders for her death, while Victor knows that William’s death is through a creature. The second illustration is when the creature is asking for a companion, and because Victor does not respond, it becomes a killer.
It teaches that betrayal is one of the most devastating events that could occur in one’s life. Yet it is a commonplace in society. Betrayal has a lot of negative consequences for most people who fall victim. The book also teaches that some may never recover from betrayal; therefore, people should avoid betraying others.
Alienation and Isolation
Alienation is a concept that describes the dehumanizing, isolation, and disenchanting effects of a corrupt society. And sometimes, one can describe it as an experience of groups or individuals that are disconnected from the rest of society. Most parts of the novel talk about alienation and isolation. Alienation comes with some symptoms, which include refusing to obey rules, feeling unsafe, separating from everyone, feeling helpless, not able to communicate with others, and lots more.
Frankenstein has a lot of useful lessons for readers about alienation and isolation. When someone feels unloved, it can lead to alienation, which in turn can lead to depression and, in some cases, suicide. Isolation is depicted on a secondary level in the novel, and Victor is one of the culprits. He did an unnatural thing by creating a monster and turned it into his enemy by isolating it. Isolation caused the creature to alienate himself, which brought about a lot of adverse circumstances for Victor Frankenstein and his monster. The creature was innocent at the beginning, but when humans hated it for its look, then it felt abandoned. For instance, when referring to Victor Frankenstein, the monster sees himself as Adam meaning he sought understanding. Another alienation that occurred in Frankenstein is Robert Walton. He sought the love of his sister and continuously wrote letters to her, but he was rejected.
In today’s society, alienation can be caused as a result of job-related issues, social causes, educational causes, family issues, health-related cases, and a lot more. It is crucial to show love and compassion to those suffering alienation so that they do not cause further damage to themselves or others around them.
Dreams and Ambition
Most people have a dream, but only a few know how to achieve their dreams and goals in life. Frankenstein teaches readers on dreams, goals, and aspirations and how to achieve them. Achieving one’s dream is a fundamental theme in Frankenstein. Dream accomplishment comes down to how much dedication, passion, and commitment you put in to achieve your goals. How badly do you want to achieve your dreams? In other to achieve your dreams, you have to define the steps that you need to take clearly. You need to write them out for constant remembrance, set out your targets at all times before you start working towards them.
Society, unfortunately, sees ambition as a negative element, and this is not true as long as ambition is positive. There could be negative ambition, which is terrible, and it is exemplified in the novel. Victor creates a monster as a result of his ambition, which has some human features but seen as a monster. So this proves that ambition could be bad if it is not in a natural direction. The creation of life by Victor is a bad ambition. This creature kills Victor’s friends and families as a way of seeking the love of his creator.
The theme of responsibility teaches readers always to be responsible for their actions and only act in line with the laws of the land. Victor is a major character that acts irresponsibly by creating a monster and then keeping a blind eye to its actions.
Frankenstein greatly highlights why an individual should be responsible for their family, friends, as well as observing his or her social responsibility. Victor’s ambitious dream of the creation of a new life reflects the lack of realization of individual and social responsibility. Victor does not show any fear of creating a monster; neither does he feel remorse when the monster starts killing people. He kept on playing with the laws of the society as a result of his irresponsible nature.
Justine’s death signifies that the entire judicial system of the society lack responsibility. Even when there was clear evidence that Justin did not commit any crime, he was still punished.