In the novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, the major character, Victor Frankenstein, evolves synonymously with the character of his monster. The evolution of Victor from a man of good to a man of evil leads to his isolation and eventual destruction. Correspondingly, the monster changes from a harmless being to a vindictive psychopath. What began as an innocent experiment in creation ends in a disaster of total devastation. Frankenstein, in trying to gain control of life as a creator, becomes a victim of his own creation.
At the beginning of the Gothic tale, Frankenstein is a naive scientist who enjoys experimenting. He is obsessed with finding the secret to life and hopes that he will be able to overcome death. Frankenstein believes that through his experiments he will be able to cure diseases and prolong life. During the course of his experiments, he inadvertently discovers the secret of life and decides to take it upon himself to create a human being.
Frankenstein’s decision to assume a “god like” role is driven by good intentions and an impulsive desire to achieve recognition, fame, and fortune. The scientist tampers with fate without recognizing that with the creation of life comes responsibilities and unanticipated consequences. Instead of producing a wondrous man, Frankenstein assembles a monster who becomes a hideous terror. The monster destroys the very things that Frankenstein holds dear and tried to preserve.
Correspondingly, the monster, when he is created, is an inexperienced, benign being. At first he is grateful to his creator for being given life. The monster is a gentile, disoriented creature who has no real experience with the outside world. However, as he matures, he begins to realize that he is repulsive and will never be accepted as a human being.
Like the emotions and circumstances of his creator, the monster’s initial reaction to rejection is one of denial. He doesn’t believe that the act of creating life has resulted in evil. Eventually, the monster’s denial is replaced with anger and a thirst for revenge. The monster becomes irrational and runs away from society. He lives in the forest, and becomes self educated as well as evil. While living in the forest, the monster realizes that his creator owes him something. He also understands that his only chance for a normal life is to return to his creator and demand a companion.
The monster returns to his creator and demands that Frankenstein assemble a companion for him so that he will not be lonely. Frankenstein agrees to the demand but resolves that it will never come to fruition. Frankenstein understands that he has created evil and that in the course of creating a monster he himself has become evil. He also knows that the only way to destroy or take control of the evil that he has brought into the world is to destroy it, even if that means destroying himself.
The evolution of Frankenstein and his monster depict the passage of good into evil that all men encounter and some overcome. It is a tale of maturity and disillusionment that predictably ends in disaster. Whenever an individual assumes a “god like” role, he or she steps beyond normal boundaries and must pay the price. For Frankenstein the price was loss of those he loved the most and eventually of his own sole.