“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley is a story not only about a monster and his attempts to survive in the world where he does not belong. It is also didactic in nature and contains many allusions, which carry a certain message within. Many allusions have their roots in religion, particularly in the instances, when the issue of life creation by a human being is dealt with.
The first powerful allusion is that of Adam and Eve. As we know, according to the Bible, they lost their place in paradise, because they did not listen to God and decided to try the apple of knowledge. They ate the apple of knowledge, received it and since then their level of happiness was plummeting. They realized they were walking naked all this time, for instance, and their attempt to cover up their bodies was the first indicator for God that something was wrong. Victor Frankenstein also chose to eat the “apple” of knowledge by following through with his scientific research. He created a man and the creation was unnatural, contrary to God’s design. So, Victor ends up paying full price for his successful attempt to defy the nature’s way. Logically, he should have been perceived as one of the greatest scientists humanity has ever had. Instead, his loved ones are suffering; he denies love and acceptance of his creation. In the end, there is nothing else for him but pain and despair. This is one of the most important messages of the novel from the author: playing God even for the sake of great science should never be attempted.
While Dr. Frankenstein could be perceived as Adam, the latter name is used by Shelley in referral to Frankenstein, the creature (National Library of Medicine). She implements a fragment from Milton’s “Paradise Lost” in the epigraph: “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould Me man?” This phrase perfectly mirrors Frankenstein’s sentiments. He did not ask for his creation as he had no choice whatsoever. One should be careful in Frankenstein’s description as it is not correct to designate him the monster role only: “It is strange to note how well-nigh universally the term “Frankenstein” is misused, even by intelligent people, as describing some hideous monster” (Rossiter) Another curious interpretation is possible, if one is to look at this Frankenstein duo through the Biblical prism: Victor is God while Frankenstein is Lucifer. The idea could be proven by the words of the monster: “I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.”
This quote also signifies Frankenstein’s complete despair and understanding of the world’s universal rejection to his persona. The quote also signifies his longing of the good, that he is willing to be the creation of God rather than the fallen abomination, a representation of an evil deed. Another proof of the God-Lucifer hypothesis is that Frankenstein, the monster, has no idea what is happening at first, but later becomes stronger than his creator and is able to surpass him empirically and then hurt him emotionally by killing everybody and destroying everything that the scientist loved. This power swap resembles that seen in the Bible, when Lucifer betrays God.
To include Biblical allusions was a very wise move of the author as the book had specific messages, which deal with the respect of the nature’s ways and human humility in front of God and his gift of life. Such allusions make the message stronger and more prominent, therefore – more effective and potent to influence any reader’s mind.
- Johnson, Rossiter. Author’s digest: the world’s great stories in brief. Issued under the auspices of the Author’s press, 1908. Print.
- “Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature/Exhibit Text”. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from http://web.archive.org