Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, who created a creature out of his curiosity to find the secret of his existence. Mary Shelley depicts Victor as God in a variety of ways, including Victor’s capacity to produce a being that nearly resembles a human being in terms of the desire for companionship, the ability to make choices, guilt, pain, and feelings of hate, in addition to being mortal, in which the act of making human beings is synonymous with God. One of the most excellent qualities that distinguish God is the capacity to give life to his special creations, as well as the ability to ruin their lives. This paper examines the most outstanding characteristics that define God, including the ability to give life to his unique creations as well as the ability to destroy life, further presenting the argument that the fact that Victor successfully created unique creatures and gave life to them equates him to God.
Shelley portrays Victor as God by demonstrating his ability to create life out of dead body parts, an element that resembles the creation story, where God created man out of dust. As Victor created his new creature, he confessed that “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelley 54), which resonates with the idea that human beings owe and bless God as their creator. Similarly, Victor, just like God, started by creating a male creature and later considered creating a female to give company to the male, in addition to ensuring the progression of the new species.
Moreover, Victor’s creation resembled man in a number of ways, including the need to socialize, the need for companionship, the ability to make decisions, and possession of emotions such as sadness among others. In this perspective, Brooks examines the role of language in Shelley’s work, which further brings out the element of Victor as God (595-600). Brooks states that despite the monster’s godlike appearance, the monster understood the importance of language in ensuring effective communication with the human beings since there were no other similar creatures that the monster could relate with (596). Brooks’ argument indicates that the monster felt lonely, a common characteristic of human beings, and it needed company to overcome the loneliness, which also resonates with the nature of human beings.
The need for language and communication denotes the element of socialization, which resonates with the characteristic of human beings as social beings.Brook notes that ‘The Monster unerringly discovers language to be on the side of culture rather than nature and to imply the structures of relation at the basis of culture’ indicating that language is central to establishing relationships and its importance exceeds the physical characteristics in communication (Brooks 596). Brooks clearly portrays Victor’s creation as unique to the world, which resonates with God’s creation story, whereby Adam was put in a land that did not have people but rather surrounded by animals, plants, and trees, forcing Adam to discover a way of living and interacting with the environment until a companion was created for him.
Similarly, Hodges examines the manner in which the monster sought to be assimilated in the society, noting that “As a spectator looking on society from the outside, he discovers language and the wonderful power of communication it makes possible” (161). The monster learned that human beings could communicate an experience that it labeled as godlike, and desired to learn their language so that he could relate to them. Hodges’ argument resonates with the human nature, whereby people from different cultures can communicate and relate well if they understand each other’s language. Therefore, from Hodges’ perspective, Victor’s creation is similar to the unique manner in which God created human beings, in that for human beings to relate well, they must acquire a common language.
Ruston (100), on the other hand, argues that the concepts of life and death as portrayed in Frankenstein are merely ideal bounds rather than real states of being, indicating that Victor played the role of God since he could create life and destroy it at the same time. Ruston supports his argument by noting that Watson and the ship’s surgeon brought back Victor to life, since he was indeed dead, though he appeared to have fainted. Ruston notes that ‘The efforts of Walton and the ship’s surgeon bring him back to life; he is again animated, upon which the “signs of life” are perceived and eventually he is “restored” indicating that life can be restored through science”. For instance, scientists, including surgeons are able to send a person to a state of death and revive the person through medicine and other clinical technologies and procedures. Therefore, in this view, Victor, a scientist, is seen to play the role of God by creating a unique creature that would help in resolving the world’s overpopulation problem.
Further, Victor demonstrated control over his creations creating an exclusively male-dominated species to resolve the problem of overpopulation, which is majorly attributed to the females. Victor’s actions indicated that he was equal to God, since control over the occupants of the world is synonymous with God, who is believed to create all the creatures that occupy the world. Victor sought to create immortal creatures, which made it unnecessary to create females, since the problem that he was seeking to resolve, overpopulation, would be made worse with the presence of females due to the fast multiplication of the immortal beings through the birth process. Mellor notes that “he refuses to create a female; there is no reason that the race of immortal beings he hoped to propagate should not be exclusively male, indicating that the presence of females would cause more overpopulation problems since the creatures, unlike human beings, would be immortal” (Mellor 222).
In addition, Mellor notes that “throughout her manuscript, Mary assumes the existence of a sacred animating principle, call it Nature or Life or God, which Frankenstein usurps at his peril” (33). Mellor’s argument brings out the idea that creation is supported by natural principles, which include God, life, or nature, indicating that the principles are above human understanding. Therefore, Mellor portrays Victor as having taken a great risk to create a human-like creature, since he did not fully understand the principles involved in the creation process. Therefore, since Victor could not compete with God or nature in creating an immortal creature, the creature was imperfect; hence, unlike human beings who focus on building relationships and protecting life, the creature found no problem in destroying life since it lacked the moral principles that human beings are created to possess.
In conclusion, Shelley portrays Victor as God in that he is able to create unique human-like creatures as well as destroying them, where the ability to create and destroy life is a key characteristic that defines God. However, unlike God who creates perfect creatures and ensures that their survival needs are catered for, Victor’s creation failed to incorporate the creatures’ needs, which prompted the monster to turn against Victor in a bid to force him, as its creator, to provide for his need for companionship. However, on realizing the threat that his creation posed to the human race, Victor destroyed the female monster to protect the humans from the wrath of his creation. In this perspective, Shelley seeks to bring out the fact that human beings, despite having the intelligence and knowledge that could enable them to find solutions for preserving human life, such as the case of surgeons who have established medical technologies for prolonging life, they cannot equal God. Her argument is that the scientists’ interventions will always be faulty, as the process of creating and preserving life is associated with a sacred principle that is beyond human understanding, majorly pertaining to God, nature, or life.
Brooks, Peter. Godlike Science/Unhallowed Arts: Language and Monstrosity in Frankenstein. New Literary History 9.3 (1978): 591-605. Print
Hodges, Devon. Frankenstein and the Feminine Subversion of the Novel. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 2.2 (1983): 155-164. Print
Mellor, Anne K. Choosing a text of Frankenstein to teach. Approaches to Teaching Shelley’s Frankenstein (1990): 31-37.
Mellor, Anne K. Possessing Nature: The Female in Frankenstein. Romanticism and Feminism (1988): 220-32. Print
Ruston, Sharon. Resurrecting Frankenstein. The Keats-Shelley Review 19.1 (2005): 97-116.Print
Shelley, Mary W. Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus. New York: Modern Library, 1999. Print.