Frankenstein: A Cultural Perspective Essay, Research Paper
The setting for Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein
plays a very important role on both the
significance and realism of the story. By the end
of the 18th century, smallpox and cholera
epidemics throughout Europe had claimed millions
of lives and brought about a crisis of faith
within both the Catholic and Protestant churches.
The formerly profane practices of medicinal healing
were only beginning to gain acceptance in major
universities as hundreds of cities were put under
quarantine for their diseases and high mortality
rates. Interdisciplinary learning within the
scientific community was unheard of. Had Victor
Frankenstein been alive during this period, his
practices would have been considered blasphemous.
Much more so than Edward Jenner’s research on
smallpox during the same time, which would
eventually save millions of lives in 1796.
Frankenstein’s intentions were good, but even
during this modern age of genetic engineering and
cloning, the story of his creation remains
Contemporary thought has allowed for
tremendous growth in genetic engineering in recent
years; the evolution of science from the
analytical engine to the modern PC has occurred
thousands of times faster than the evolution of
our own species, from ape to human. New
medications are discovered daily. However, had
Mary Shelly’s proposition of “playing god” been a
reality in the late 18th century, and had Victor
Frankenstein been able to take this dramatic
shortcut in the slow process of evolution by
creating life from death, the crisis between the
church and science would have been decidedly
against science. Such were the sentiments of
Victor’s headmaster at Ingolstadt, as well as the
rest of the European scientific community.
Frankenstein’s intentions were good. He had
wanted to rid the world of genetic defects and
bacterial disease by creating the perfect man. He
would do so by applying electricity to the polar
regions of a body, which he had constructed from
pieces of freshly executed villains, while
submerging them in an elemental pool of life.
However, he was so driven towards his goal that he
never considered the consequences of his actions.
He was in many ways acting like the benefactor of
Jurassic Park, hastily creating a life form
without consideration of possible detriments.
When Frankenstein had created his monster, he
didn’t know what to do with it and immediately
wished it dead, but ironically he had made it so
strong that it would not die.
Initially, the monster was not filled with
the hate and rage that he would exhibit later in
the movie. It was in many ways a helpless baby,
only wanting someone to love him and teach him.
However, Victor Frankenstein was so afraid of
him–as were the townspeople–that he did not get
this love or education. The monster was forced to
defend himself from the start, killing the
inhabitants of the town who assaulted him on
account of his liness. Thus, he perceived
himself to be a public enemy, and isolation became
Victor, counting on his helplessness from
isolation, assumed the monster would die as he
returned home to his sister (and future wife),
Elizabeth, in Geneva. It was not until he got
there that he could feel the monster’s presence.
His creation had the mind of his master, which
made the task of hunting down Victor easy. As the
monster made his way from Ingolstadt to Geneva,
he learned about human nature, elevating his
desire for companionship and his rage against
Victor even more.
When he did reach Geneva, Victor’s creation
announced his presence by murdering William,
Victor’s brother. This initiated the mutual
feeling of hate they had for each other. When
they did finally meet, the monster explained that
Victor had given him nothing, and if he wished him
out of his life Victor would have to give him a
wife or face the consequences. Victor considered
this, but refused. Though he had made the right
decision morally, Victor’s refusal would bring
about the monster’s rage against his wife on their
wedding night, as well as his father and his best
friend, Henry. The monster killed them all.
Victor,crushed by his losses, would hunt the
monster to the ends of the earth thereafter, until
they both destroyed themselves in the desolation
of the Arctic Sea.
Victor Frankenstein’s actions were doomed
from the start. He attempted to make himself God’s
equal, and it is only natural that God would
destroy him, his creation, and his incestuous
relationship with his sister by the hand of his
own creation. While Victor had the capability to
ignore the declarations of blasphemy issued to him
by his headmaster at Ingolstadt, he could not
ignore the wrath of God, working through his
monster. He paid for his sins by the hand of his
This story tells us that our creativity must
be limited to the creation of life, or our life
will be limited to our existence on earth.
Defining the conscienceless action is one of the
most baffling, enigmatic, daily rituals of the
Christian faith. Like the Constitution of the
United States, we are forced to accept a loose
interpretation of biblical doctrines to both
define and justify our everyday policy for living.
So what rationalization can be made for the
actions of Victor Frankenstein? None, there is no
ethical way to defend him. Like human cloning,
which has become a moot topic among both genetic
engineers and society in general, intention will
always remain insignificant when in contention
with religion; and if society will refuse to
uphold this ideology, God will.