A Brief Summary of the Delusions of Grandeur Presented in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Mary Shelley’s gothic horror, Frankenstein, thoroughly delves into the concept of ‘man playing God’, as can be seen through both the inner dialogue and actions of the protagonist, Victor. To Victor, God’s omnipotence is not beyond mankind, but rather a force that can be understood, harnessed, and then transcended by means of science. Thus, Victor “took their [the scientists’] word for all they averred and…became their disciple,” likening himself to an Apostle devoted to, what he essentially regards as, the holy study of science. However, on account of “not [being] content with the results promised by the modern professors of natural science,” Victor “felt as if [his] soul were grappling with a palpable enemy…” – highlighting his belief that God is entirely tangible – until “[his] mind was filled with one thought, one conception, one purpose…” to “unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.” When said mysteries are solved, what began as simply a study to quench the thirst of scientific knowledge, spirals into delusional godlike ideation: Victor imagines that “a new species would bless [him] as its creator and source.” Ergo, Victor wastes no time in animating his Creature, and through this pivotal event, Shelley presents to the reader the possible effects of mankind aspiring to become God: Victor’s life becomes tainted by an inescapable paranoia which is born along with the Creature. Upon delivering onto his creation the spark of animation, “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless disgust and horror filled [Victor’s] heart.”


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