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, fianci??
e, 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. He rejects natural creation in hopes for bringing to life something scientifically engineered by his own mortal hand – to be successful in the creation of life that humanity has never seen before. As an evolving scholar and scientist, Frankenstein had examined the works of great scientists from past to present.
He decides that he wants to achieve something completely new, which will set him apart from the scientists he has followed. “I was surprised that among so many men of genius, who had directed their inquiries toward the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret. ” In the process, Frankenstein does not know that he will create an actual monster, but he wants to give life to a being in his image. He collects different body parts and manages to put them together to form a figure of man. When he finally does animate the being, he goes into a wild frenzy.
“The astonishment which I had first experienced on this discovery soon gave place to delight and rapture. After so much time spent in painful labour, to arrive at once at the summit of my desires, was the most gratifying consummation of my toils. ” Frankenstein wants his name to go down in scientific history books for his accomplishment, but not without a cost: he ignores his family for two years during the process of his isolated lab work. Throughout the novel readers are presented with the disturbing consequence of Frankenstein’s decision to play the role of creator.
In order to create life, Frankenstein halts his university studies and works diligently in his isolated quarters for two years. He completely disregards the importance of human feelings and companionship. He even deprives himself of sleep and his health. Frankenstein ignores nearly all society, especially that of his family, to achieve his concentrated goal. He takes for granted his family’s concerns and their longing for his company. Frankenstein gives little thought to his fianci?? e Elizabeth, who sadly and anxiously waits for his return.