Appreciation vs. Ambition

In continuation of the Tuesday’s discussion of binaries, I began to think about Frankenstein’s appreciation for the natural versus his ambition for the unnatural.

He sees his project as an opportunity to both introduce new beings on earth and reverse the effects of death. While the former isn’t so far fetched now (Mules and ligers are not on earth naturally. By the way, they’re not considered new species because they’re sterile…), reversing the effects of death is still “out there” in the scientific community. Too many things happen too quickly to reverse death – on the molecular level, the amino acids which compose proteins instantly change configuration and can’t be forced back. Yet Frankenstein states, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source, many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me…if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might…renew life where death had devoted the body to corruption” (82). Frankenstein is bent upon two relatively unnatural scientific pursuits: creating a new being completely on his own (& not through any kind of parthenogenesis as in “When It Changed”; he doesn’t have eggs anyway) and bringing back the dead.

The concept of imbuing life into the inanimate consumes Frankenstein, and he pursues it passionately. He states, “I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit” (82). To have seemingly lost his natural ability for the senses somehow works in his pursuit of the unnatural. His obsession could be likened that of a drug addict in that he pays attention to nothing else. He claims that, “…my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature” (83). Nature had previously held some interest for him, but he is so infatuated with his project that he also says, “Winter, spring, and summer, passed away during my labours; but I did not watch the blossom or the expanding leaves…so deeply was I engrossed in my occupation” (84). Frankenstein doesn’t even notice the passage of time while he’s working.

Only months after the evening the monster was created, Frankenstein rediscovers his appreciation for nature. Perhaps the long illness through which he suffered could be likened to withrdrawal/rehab if his obsession could paralled to drug addition. He states, “I remember the first time I became capable of of observing outward objects with any kind of pleasure, I perceived that the fallen leaves and disappeared, and the the young buds were shooting forth from the trees that shaded my window…I became as cheerful as before I was attacked by the fatal passion” (90). He regains his innate ability to enjoy what exists without the interference of mankind.


  1. Josh Ambrose Said:

    on September 8, 2011 at 8:57 am   Reply

    He’s definitely addicted! But once he creates the monster, don’t you think his response is a bit unlike a normal addict, in that his feelings aren’t mixed at all? I’m just amazed how quickly he hates his creation! That said, I agree that his relief at being free of his creation is a bit like someone who has just kicked the habit.

    I’d love to find some more biographical criticism that touches on your observation. Did Shelley have much exposure to drugs/addiction?

  2. Ashley Parker Said:

    on September 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm   Reply

    I think it’s interesting that Frankenstein says he losses his soul when making his creation, like you said. Do you think Shelley is commenting on some kind of balance in nature? So in order for Frankenstein to bring a creation to life, he had to give up his soul. And once he has finally created this monster, he realizes that he no longer has that salvation and that’s why he’s horrified by it?

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