Victor Frankenstein Character Analysis
At the center of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein is Victor Frankenstein, whose character develops throughout the novel to illustrate the dangers of pursuing knowledge. Frankenstein is a novel that exemplifies the power of the human mind and how the desire for knowledge can result in a destructive psychological battle. Shelley explores the advancements in modern science and its impact in this gothic horror story and science fiction that revolves around Victor and his monstrous creation. Shelley explores how Victor, a Swiss science student uses natural science to create an artificial creature from the pieces of corpses and eventually brings it to life. Victor’s desire to create new species by discovering the secret of life and death pushes him into creating an artificial man who turns out to be a monster, in his view. Without realizing the repercussions of his creation, his ambition turns into an inner battle to accept his fault, which has endangered not only himself but also his loved ones. Throughout the novel, Shelley utilizes Victor’s character development to demonstrate the descent from a young, ambitious scientist into a delusional individual obsessed with revenge. Victor Frankenstein is ambitious and knowledgeable, also self-centered, and delusional.
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Victor is an ambitious and determined scientist whose pursuit of knowledge drives his objectives in life. From the beginning, Victor shows a great deal of desire to gain knowledge and understanding of modern science (Bowta & Puluhulawa, 2019). He dreams of changing society and bringing credit to himself through scientific and technological achievements. He states, “ So much has been done…more, far more, will I achieve: treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way” (Shelley, 2001). Victor recognizes that modern science has advanced tremendously over the years. However, as an ambitious and determined individual, he believes he can contribute even further by making new discoveries. Fakhruddin (2015) points out that Victor has a profound ambition that drives him to surpass the scientific accomplishments that others have made because he believes he has more to offer. Through his mysterious creation, Victor believes that he can generate and control life and that it would fulfill his own. He describes his powerful desire as a strong external force beyond his control and a part of his destiny that he must accomplish. He states, “For when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion, which afterward ruled my destiny” (Shelley, 2001). At the university of Ingolstadt, Victor develops a passion for natural philosophy and studies the secret of life and death with so much zeal that he neglects his family. Talking to Walton, he states, “The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine,” implying his passion for using his scientific knowledge (Shelley, 2001). Eventually, he fulfilled his desire to generate life artificially, although the result did not match his expectations.
Self-Centeredness and Delusion
Victor Frankenstein is an egocentric individual with self-interest that neglects other people’s needs. According to Bowta and Puluhulawa (2019), Victor’s egotism is attributed to his selfish ambition to create a new race that would owe their life to him. He claims, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source: many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelley, 2001). This statement proves Victor’s interest in being a supreme being that gives life to its creatures who have to show gratitude to him. He is immediately obsessed with the prospect of being a creator who is revered by his creature without focusing on how to fulfill its needs (Fakhruddin, 2015). He is overwhelmed by his obsession to become a god but fails to consider the consequences of his actions. Subsequently, he brings a monster to life, highlighting his shortcoming when it is clear that he is incapable of fulfilling his responsibilities as a creator. Finally, he abandons his creature because it is horrifying, not considering that the monster needs his affection and care from the one who has brought it to life.
Victor is delusional and deranged with his unrealistic desire to become a god-like figure. He displays an illusory and delusional character, imagining that generating life would fulfill his life without focusing on the consequences of artificially creating a monster. Victor’s obsession blinds him to an extent he does not see beyond his deranged choices of bringing a monster to life without proper care and compassion (Fakhruddin, 2015). He tries to escape the reality of his choices by fleeing into the wilderness far away from the monster. He recalls, “my steps towards the near Alpine valleys… the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows” (Shelley, 2001). Victor does not realize the devastating effects of his choices until it is too late when the monster kills his brother, friend, and wife. In the end, he recognizes that he made a terrible choice as he confesses to Walton about his obsession. He states, “Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in sciences and discoveries” (Shelley, 2001). Ultimately Victor acknowledges the dangers of his delusional ambition and the insane pursuit of knowledge.
Overall, Victor Frankenstein is a round character who develops throughout the novel from an innocent ambitious scientist to a delusional self-centered individual consumed by rage and malice because of his choices. Through Victor’s character, Shelley illustrates how pursuing knowledge can be dangerous, especially if an individual overlooks the results of putting scientific knowledge into action without reviewing the repercussions. The story revolves around Victor’s desire to be a god-like figure which goes terribly wrong, resulting in a series of deaths and destruction that could have been prevented.
- Bowta, F., & Puluhulawa, Y. (2019). Deconstructive Analysis Of Main Character In Frankenstein Novel By Mery Shelley. British (Jurnal Bahasa dan Sastra Inggris), 7(1), 60-71.
- Fakhruddin, R. A. (2015). The internal conflict faced by Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Universitas Islam Negeri Maulana Malik Ibrahim.
- Shelley, M. (2001). Frankenstein: Or the New Prometheus – the 1818 Text. New York: Oxford.