This article discusses the various conflicts that Frankenstein faces throughout Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Frankenstein is a novel packed with emotions, struggles, and dark moments. The main theme of Frankenstein is definitely depression. Frankenstein has many personal struggles with his family being so far away, being engaged to one woman but in love with another, trying to pursue knowledge over God and other men, and Frankenstein’s personal struggles with loneliness and purpose.
Frankenstein’s depression leads to several dark moments throughout the novel; one such moment is when Frankenstein dies as he claims that he “had desired it. ” Frankenstein says this as his last words because he believes that not only has his family rejected him but also all of humanity has rejected him as well. This depression follows Frankenstein for much of his journey. Another prevalent conflict in Frankenstein is the struggle between humans and nature.
Frankenstein wastes no time in calling out God and humans on their treatment of nature by saying: “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers – their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I when I viewed myself in a transparent pool… I was hideous. ” Frankenstein also notes several times how he is able to really interact with animals because they are so much less judgmental than humans. Frankenstein likes that animals live simply and don’t have the same rules as humans do.
Frankenstein clearly thinks that the natural world is better than the human world, even if it has its dangers. There are also some more personal struggles aside from depression in Frankenstein. One of these being Frankenstein’s struggle between his family and Elizabeth Lavenza (of whom Frankenstein is constantly thinking about). Frankenstein breaks off an engagement with a woman named Victorine because he believes himself unworthy to marry someone, but he also doesn’t want to let go of Elizabeth either.
Throughout Frankenstein’s journey, both women constantly plague his mind and Frankenstein is unable to let go of either women even though he believes himself unworthy. Frankenstein eventually marries Elizabeth Lavenza but Frankenstein claims that his happiness with her will never be complete because it isn’t Elizabeth he really wants, but rather Frankenstein’s dream of the perfect woman Elizabeth represented in Frankenstein’s mind. Another struggle that Frankenstein deals with throughout the novel is Frankenstein’s strife between pursuing knowledge over God and other men.
Frankenstein becomes obsessed with finding out how things work, which leads him down a dark path where he questions everything around him including God. Frankenstein goes through periods where he says “I vowed to myself an eternal silence” (talking about no longer desiring to know secrets) only to break this vow moments later when Frankenstein starts obsessing over secrets again. Frankenstein’s rejection of God led to Frankenstein creating his own man-made monster, which Frankenstein could never accept even though Frankenstein was the one who created it.
Frankenstein struggles for most of the book with accepting Frankenstein’s creation but ultimately Frankenstein is unable to accept what he has done and rather than take responsibility for Frankenstein’s actions, Frankenstein runs away from his problems until they catch up to him in a dramatic moment at the end of the novel where Frankenstein notes that all of humanity has turned its back on him because Frankenstein cannot bear living amongst human beings after what he has done.
There are a few very minor conflicts throughout Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as well. One such conflict is when Walton claims that “I longed to explore the recesses of the cliff” at Frankenstein’s house. Frankenstein responds by saying “Oh! be warned; do not seek to penetrate these mysteries… you will never return. ” Frankenstein tries to warn Walton off with this statement but Walton still wants to explore Frankenstein’s home.
Frankenstein does not tell Walton that any harm will come to him if he goes into Frankenstein’s house, rather Frankenstein is just trying to warn Walton away because Frankenstein can’t stand other people around his cherished possessions and Shelley was using this conflict as a way for her readers to get introduced into Frankenstein’s home and learn about his secrets before Frankenstein reveals them in front of others.
Another small conflict lies within Frankenstein when he refuses to talk about how he brought life back or what exactly Frankenstein is doing at Frankenstein’s house (this conflict leads to Frankenstein’s later conflict with Walton where Frankenstein tries to warn Walton off). Frankenstein doesn’t want to talk about it because Frankenstein knows that he has done something horrible and Frankenstein fears if people knew what Frankenstein had done, they would turn on Frankenstein and kill him.
This is a small conflict (it never truly comes up again once Frankenstein starts explaining himself) but Shelley used this as a way to create suspense within the novel as well as foreshadowing for later events in the book. Frankenstein struggles throughout most of the story with his depression, arguing with Elizabeth Lavenza and Robert Walton, as well as dealing with his own demons such as his creation of an artificial human being.
It is Frankenstein’s ambition to create life that ultimately leads Frankenstein down a dark path and Frankenstein has regrets and sorrow for most of the book because Frankenstein can’t handle what Frankenstein has done. Rational: Frankenstein is the protagonist in Frankenstein, and he is also the story’s narrator. As such, we see most of what goes on in Frankenstein from Frankenstein’s perspective; we learn about Frankenstein’s reactions to events, but at face value, we do not know how others may (or may not) react to certain things if they were educated about them like Frankenstein was.
This creates some doubt around our interpretation of whether or not characters intended harm when they approached Frankenstein with ill intent; though one character might cause another angst by walking up to him without a second thought, Frankenstein is in no position to judge their intentions because Frankenstein doesn’t know how they would react otherwise. Therefore, Frankenstein will always assume the worst-case scenario if someone were to approach him with ill intent or surprise Frankenstein by doing something Frankenstein never expected.