“Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow” (Chapter 4, pg 54) Frankenstein now decides to create his own living creature, which he puts into human form. All the way through Chapter four, Victor describes himself as being the figurative parent of his creation “No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs” (Chapter 4, pg 55)
In Chapter five, Frankenstein brings his creation to life and all his illusions of grandeur are destroyed by the hideousness of the beast. He has constructed the monster in perfect proportion with parts he considered beautiful, but the end result is horrific. His perfect creation is a frightening disaster: “For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”(Chapter 5, pg 58) Frankenstein flees his laboratory and from his creation, only for it to reappear in his room. When Frankenstein escapes from his apartment the creature disappears. Frankenstein falls ill at this point weakened by the horror of his creation.
“The form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was forever in my eyes, and I raved incessantly concerning him.” (Chapter 5, pg 63) Chapter five starts with ‘it was on a dreary night in November’ the word dreary means very miserable and dull, and this can refer to Gothicism. Readers have argued about whether the novel is written as a science fiction or as a gothic horror novel. This first sentence in chapter 5 goes in favour of the latter.
Once the creature is created, Frankenstein talks about it being beautiful “beautiful’, ‘lustrous black’ and ‘pearly white’. He also talks about it being ugly ‘horrid’, ‘yellow skin’, ‘watery eyes’ and ‘dun-white sockets’. These contrasts of negative and positive characteristics help create a more detailed image of the creature in the readers mind. The creation of the monster is truly a grotesque act, far removed from the triumph of scientific knowledge that Victor had hoped. When Victor sleeps his nightmares reflect the horror at what he has done and also serve to foreshadow future events in the novel. The images of Elizabeth “Livid with the hue of death”(Chapter 5, pg 59)
prepare the reader for Elizabeth’s eventual death in chapter 23, and connect it to the creation of the monster. Victor awakens to find the creature looking over him and although the monster was not aggressive, Victor is disgusted by it and flees: “While a grin wrinkled his cheeks”(Chapter 5, pg 59) Here we realise that the monster was not created as being evil. The monster states that he only wanted acceptance from Victor but he is rejected instead. Frankenstein is a villain as well as a victim, if he had not abandoned the creature than his loved ones would not have suffered.
Dawn brought no hope for Victor, only rain from a “Comfortless sky”(Chapter 5, pg 60). The weather itself seems to have embodied Victor’s despair. Deranged by his experiences, Victor takes to the streets, where he feels haunted by a nameless horror. To tell Walton this he recites a poem from Coleridge’s ‘The rime of the ancient mariner’ (lines 446-51) “Like one, on a lonesome road who, Doth walk in fear and dread, And, having once turned round, walks on, And turns no more his head; Because he knows a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread.”(Chapter 5, pg 60)
This poem establishes the grim and relentless theme of pursuit between creator and creature that occupies the rest of the book. The book ‘Caleb Williams’, written by Shelley’s father, influenced this pursuit theme. Frankenstein was also created in the likeness of Caleb Williams, who said, “My offence had merely been a mistaken thirst for knowledge” Caleb Williams pursuer Falkland had, an ’eminently mischievous’ fault that leads him from pure motives of love into destructive hate. Victor’s only comfort is the arrival of Henry Clerval, which reminds him of his home and all that he has forgotten, but as they were about to enter Victor’s flat, he remembered the monster that may still have been lurking inside. “I threw the door forcibly open, as children are accustomed to do when they expect a spectre to stand in waiting for them” (Chapter 5, pg 62)
This presents another haunting theme that persists throughout the novel, the sense that the monster is inescapable, liable to appear at any moment and wreak havoc. The monster had left, but Frankenstein is weakened by the shock and exhaustion from the months of work and the horrific being he had created. He falls ill with a nervous fever that lasts for months. His recovery is reflected in the weather “The fallen leaves had disappeared and that the young buds were shooting forth from the trees.” (Chapter 5, pg 63) Chapter 5 is about rejection, how in horror Victor rejects the monster. This rejection is of the creator to its creation. It echoes how Victor rejects god when he tries to reverse his work by attempting to bring the dead back to life, the rest of the book is a reaction to this rejection. Victor is punished by his creation by it haunting him.
There are great contrasts between life and death that prevail throughout the novel. Victor begins to see the pure and beautiful nature of gods creation “The purest creature on earth” and thus is contrasted to her death “her pale and distorted features” In this way Shelley seeks to warn the reader about meddling with nature and fighting against it, therefore going against the will of god. Throughout the novel Shelley uses nature to show the mood of the scene, or of the horror to come. For example: “The thunder ceased; but the rain continued and the scene was enveloped in an impenetrable darkness.” (Chapter 7, pg 78)
This is a technique often used in examples of the gothic genre. By using nature in this way Shelley portrays the disgust that humankind would feel at the way that Frankenstein has attempted to play God to ‘create’ By chapter 23 Victor feels real guilt over his actions and begins to contemplate the creations destruction. The negative words such as ‘my enemy’ and my ‘adversary’ betray these emotions of hate.
In conclusion, the beginning of the novel, and in particular Chapter five, is significant for a number of reasons. The early chapters set the scene for Frankenstein’s destruction by showing his relentless pursuit of power over life and death. This pursuit is driven by the death of his mother. In Chapter five, Frankenstein’s dreams are accomplished, but at the same time destroyed. It is the beginning of the end for Frankenstein’s future, and the start of the struggle between creator and creature.
It is Chapter five that is the pivotal point in the novel. Victor as creator condemns and rejects his creation. As with mankind if God rejected us, the creature would be damned. His actions after this point are those of an evil being, one that is damned. The monsters crimes affect Victor’s family and therefore punish Victor. This punishment haunts him through the rest of the novel. Victor is weak and it is only near the end of the novel that he attempts to face his creature and to destroy it to restore nature’s order. Finally the pursuit of his creation destroys him. It is the creation itself that decides he is an affront to nature and mankind.
” I shall collect my funeral pile, and consume to ashes this miserable frame, that its remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch, who would create such another as I have been” (Chapter 24, pg 224) In this way the novel ends on the course of despair that it began in Chapter five. This was with rejection and horror of the creation that was ‘man made’. This suspicion of ‘playing with God’ is as relevant today as humans argue over issues such as ‘cloning’ and ‘designer babies’.