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Faust and Frankenstein

Goethe in Faust and Shelley in Frankenstein, wrap their stories around two men whose mental and physical actions parallel one another. Both stories deal with characters, who strive to be the bermensch in their world. In Faust, the striving fellow, Faust, seeks physical and mental wholeness in knowledge and disaster in lust. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein struggles for control over one aspect of nature and disastrously, through the monster, nature controls him to a much greater degree. Many powers are much too mighty for mortal souls, a lesson that Frankenstein and Faust learn by the end of their tales.

While voluntarily excommunicating themselves from society, both characters accomplish a portion of their goal and yet they remain unhappy because they never control the “perfect” life they have built for themselves. In Faust, the intelligent gentleman Faust, seeks spiritual wholeness in knowledge. Through years of hard study, Faust becomes knowledgeable in math, sciences and religion and yet he becomes inept and incapable of having any romantic or physical relationships with the outside world.

As Faust strives to become the “over man” through knowledge, he realizes that books will not satisfy his curiosity and that maybe sensual pleasures will. Therefore, in the process of creating his new life, Faust, becomes distant and unconcerned with all reality and humanity around him. Do not fancy anything right, do not fancy that I could teach or assert what would better mankind or what might convert. I also have neither money nor treasures, nor worldly honors or earthly pleasures; no dog would want to live this way! (p. 95)

Obviously, Faust has fallen into a inhumane state of living, through the pursuit of the unattainable. He becomes greedy, desperate and feels justified in whatever it takes to achieve a position of the over man. At that time, Christians and society in general considered his pursuit for lust immoral, unjust and irresponsible. When Faust sets his sights on an object, whether knowledge or women, he demands nothing less of himself than that which will get it. In many situations dedication to an act is reputable; education, sports, career.

It seems then, that to become the bermensch and pursue excellence, one must stay dedicated to one’s goal and dismiss the world around him. In the process of creating his monster, Victor Frankenstein ignores the outside world; The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit. It was a most beautiful season; never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest, or the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage: but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature.

And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent… (p. 53) Frankenstein becomes so wrapped up in his curiosity of creation, that he utterly ignores the outside world. Therefore, Faust and Frankenstein’s desire to create, lead them to withdraw themselves from society. Faust desires to create love and possess a woman, so that he can feel all that the world has to offer. Frankenstein, desires to create life and become a motherly figure which supersedes any other emotion or need.

Although, the characters have different desires their actions and thoughts are closely identical. Even after the successfulness of creating what they anted for themselves, Faust and Frankenstein remain unhappy. This unhappiness causes Faust and Frankenstein to commit acts far more evil than ever before. In this unhappiness, Faust’s emotions become irrational and immoral towards Gretchen and Frankenstein ignores his “beautiful” creation.

When Victor’s creation transforms itself from idea to reality, Frankenstein immediately looses control over it and himself. … t now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. (p. 56) This example communicates not only the lack of maturity which Frankenstein contains but also the thoughtlessness that he has toward his creation. Frankenstein reveals, through his running, fainting and the coma that he had not thought of the ramifications and responsibilities that his creation entailed.

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