Prometheus brought fire from the Godly world to the human world and was sentenced to suffer for eternity. Victor Frankenstein, a scientist in 17th century Geneva, himself brings a new technology to the people – a method for immortality. He believes that creating life from the parts of dead men will be a scientific breakthrough yet, when this living creature comes into fruition, his suffering, like that of Prometheus’, is ready to begin – yet, is it really his suffering that matters? Frankenstein is the story of an uncaring God, the tragedy of immortality, and the struggle of the crippled and different. But it is also the story of an unending cycle of oppression.
Frankenstein develops a curiosity towards science which leads him to create a “monster”. He believes in the necessity of immortality and seeks it out not just for himself like a journey to find the tree of life, but for the dead. Reincarnation is the method he believes immortality must be sought through. When he, as a symbolic God, does reanimate this corpse, he immediately realizes its imperfections and flaws when compared to what he considers beautiful life, and rejects it.
Seeing himself as a God, he views himself and those he loves as perfect. The body and appearance of his creation in no way resemble them, but as the story reveals later, the creature’s mind is the same. We learn of its wants and needs when it tells its story to Frankenstein. It learned what life was through watching those accustomed to it and learned to read, speak, write, and desire. It found a need for love and belonging – but just as Frankenstein did, all of mankind seems to reject it. Its subsequent killings and revenge against Frankenstein are almost understandable. The creature has been in a form of solitary confinement with only itself to keep company. It sees so many enjoying the pleasures of life yet it is here unable to participate. It is the immortal figure shunned from an otherwise normal society.
There is also a perpetual cycle that leads to increased misery for the monster. Its rejection leads to a deeper desire for belonging, and when this belonging is not allowed, it acts out in violent ways. When it asks Frankenstein for the only possible form of happiness (to create a new monster for it to love and to love it) Frankenstein only sees its violence and refuses to create another hateful being. He doesn’t see past the aggression and hate that the monster may possess. This cycle of rejection and violence creates the impossibility of happiness. He is oppressed further and more harshly, eventually leading to more intense, and more understandable, forms of revenge.
Frankenstein is a story written two hundred years ago, and even with that, the reader can find parallels to political and social issues that are occurring today. The novel takes us into the mind of both the oppressor and the oppressed, not to give “both sides of the story”, but to first show the mind of the oppressed, and second, to reveal the absurd rationality and mind-tricks that the oppressor uses to assure themself that their opinions are correct. Frankenstein is a beautifully written novel, and although at some times quite over-wordy or over-explanatory, poses astute questions about morality and our modern society which make it worth reading.
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