Symbolism in “Frankenstein”
A romantic life full of pain and abandonment could only be given the monstrous form of “Frankenstein.” Mary Shelley’s life gave birth to an imaginary victim full of misery and loneliness and placed him as the protagonist of one of her most famous and greatest works of art. As most people would assume, he is not just a fictional character, but in fact a creature who desperately demonstrates Shelley’s tragedies and losses during the age of the Romantic Era. Since Mary Shelley’s birth there have been numerous losses in her life. One extremely dominating event in Shelley’s life was the death of her mother. Soon after, her father remarried and Shelley entered a battle as the victim of a fight for love. In her novel the emphasis of isolation and rejection are demonstrated through the monster.
What is most significant is the abandonment the monster feels throughout the story. He expresses it by telling Walton “…I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (184). He claims he is the victim of his wrongdoing and affirms: “You, who call Frankenstein your friend, seem to have a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes. But in detail which he gave you of them, he could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured, wasting in impotent passions” (183). He then goes on to express his feelings of guilt and hideousness because after all, the beast is supersensitive. “But it is true that I am a wretch, I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing. I have devoted my creator, the select specimen of all that is worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery; I have pursued him even to that irremediable ruin. There he lies, white and cold in death. You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself. I look on the hands which executed the deed; I think on the heart in which the imagination of it was conceived, and long for the moment when these hands will meet my eyes, when that imagination will haunt my thoughts no more”(184).
The deprivation of her mother is not the only loss in Shelley’s life. Shelley, like the monster, also hoped for a partner or a sense of a normal life with a loving family. With her husband, Shelley shared the tragic losses of their children, leaving them only with one child. The losses didn’t end here, they endured an endless struggle with money, which is parallel with the monsters struggle to find food. “Frankenstein” is also defined as a rather feminist novel. The most fascinating concept in the story is the developing intention to form life. Victor takes the maternal role of a woman in producing life. He failed to create his dream, but instead brought into existence a monster. The desire to conceive life in her story can also be the desire to bring back to life what is dead. “Frankenstein” is also seen as the perfect example of the Romantic era style of writing. This may be due to the romantic life Shelley led. Her book is filled with new ideas generating a time of strong emotion and intuition where misery and passion are explored throughout the story. The romantic age had an attachment to nature and the novel’s setting is placed in an obscure world different to that of the audience. This focuses the theme and makes it more alluring as a horror story. Mary Shelley identified herself with her characters and even the events forming her work. The monster felt he was the exile, but he actually surpassed the boundary between a demon and a human, whereas, most people lead a life searching and failing to fulfill this. The monster represents a beautiful form of life, sensing pain and love for those who questioned him but gaining a sense of accomplishment proving himself to be able to incorporate human passion with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature.