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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein explores the consequences of what happens when man tries to play God and chases ambition blindly.

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Introduction

Romantic literature abounds with characters who have rejected human relationships for science, which is seen to epitomise objectivity and rationalism. These figures range from the comic or the pitiful to the sinister depending on the degree of power they achieve. The most famous and complex example, one which has become the archetypal twentieth-century myth, was provided by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818). As well as his alchemical pride and isolation, Victor Frankenstein epitomises the Romantic anathema, the man who, in pursuit of science, rejects father, fianc´┐Że, Nature and even his surrogate child, the Monster. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein explores the consequences of what happens when man tries to play God and chases ambition blindly. The main character, Victor Frankenstein, is a young man with an intense desire to achieve something that no scientist has ever done before: to give life to a being through science, not natural creation. He finds the ultimate secret to the creation of life - something no one in history has ever done before. However, it is with this knowledge and ambition, which he applies to his own selfish goals, that winds up destroying him and those closest to him. He does not appreciate the beauty of simply being alive or having the ability to create his own children and to share the love of his family. ...read more.

Middle

And afterward, he runs away from society in the attempt to rid himself of the monster. This shaky groundwork sets up traumatic loss to come, as Frankenstein does not realise that his family will not be there for him in the end, when he is lonely and in need of their company. Although he is successful in creating life, one of Frankenstein's greatest flaws in his attempt to create a being, is that he does not even nurture it as a parent would for his own child. Frankenstein decides that he doesn't like the monster after he has finished it. He rejects the monster, and in turn the monster rejects him. In the end, the monster reflects upon his own state of affairs: "my heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy; and, when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture, such as you cannot even imagine." The monster has been treated as subhuman, as a "thing" that does not deserve love or affection. Frankenstein declares, in agony over his creation, "Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch." Frankenstein feels that he has created something completely revolting, and he rejects his own creation. ...read more.

Conclusion

He says, "Seek happiness in tranquillity, and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries." To be at peace with one's own mortality is essential to living a full and rich human life. Frankenstein's mistake was that he wanted to be the first man to achieve something which no man had ever done before his time; to rise above human achievement, to rob the sacred act of creation and bypass this natural gift given to humanity by using scientific means. These actions all caused others to suffer and to ultimately die for Frankenstein's own prestige. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein shows that dabbling with the work of God or nature is immoral and ethically corrupt. Trying to play God is not the responsibility of mortals. This novel also shows that a person who chases notoriety purely for his or her own personal gain may find the consequences of their actions to be truly devastating. In her protagonist Shelley explored in detail many of the implications of involvement in research, thereby providing the details which have been subsumed in the complex mythology of the inhuman scientist - the psychological effects of isolation and suppression of human affections, loss of the ability to appreciate natural beauty, the naive optimism that knowledge will inevitably be for the good of all, the fanatical desire to complete a project whatever the human cost. Frankenstein, the over-reacher ...read more.

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