The novel Frankenstein was written back in the 17th century by one Mary Shelley. The novel is also commonly referred to as the Modern Prometheus and has a number of themes captured in it, among them being galvanism, which refers to occult culture, family relations and intimate relations. The novel centers on the Frankenstein family, which comprises Victor, Elizabeth his adopted sister, Frankenstein’s monster, Caroline Frankenstein who is Victor’s mother, Alphonse who is Victor’s father, Ernest and William who are Victor’s brothers and Justine Moritz who is a servant to the household. There is also Henry Clerval, Victor’s close friend. There are other contemporary characters in the novel who include Krempe and Waldman the Professors, lawyer, old woman, DeLacy the cottage dweller, Agatha his daughter, Felix his son, Turkish merchant, Safie his daughter, Kirwin the magistrate, fisherman among other characters. The main theme that this paper aims to bring out is family relations and family alienations, as well as look at the consequences of both (Mary, 2007)
The novel begins by Victor Frankenstein giving his story as a young child. He was born in a wealth family and since the circumstances around which he was born allow for exploration, he gains an obsession for gaining a grater understanding for the world through science. His is a safe world because he is surrounded by a loving and protective family, as well as friends. It is this great obsession for an understanding of the world through science that drives him to pursue further studies at the university in Germany. Unfortunately, just a week before his planned departure, his very own mother died of a strange illness, yet she had just cured Elizabeth of scarlet fever. Before her death, Victor’s mother made it clear that they ought to remain as a close-knit family, as this would be their father’s only consolation. She leaves the sole responsibility of taking care of the family to Elizabeth and after so doing; she died peacefully in her sleep. While the family was aggrieved, Victor saw this as an opportunity to study chemistry, biology and other sciences that would make him understand the processes of life and how it decays. He did not understand how a person whom he had seen every single day of his life was no more, how the brightness of his beloved mother had departed from their midst, and how the sound of such a familiar voice had finally been hushed, never to be heard ever again. He decided to brush off the feeling of grief as mere indulgence more than necessity in order to give his mind room to pursue the urge to understand life processes (Joan, 1998).
His consolation came about when Elizabeth, his love, proved to be stronger than the rest of the family as so Victor was assured that in his absence, Elizabeth would take care of the entire family left behind by hi mother. So he left for University and as he continued with his studies he discovered the secret to imbuing the inanimate with life. In addition, he became so much engraved with galvanism, a concept that is very cultic. Victor became so engrossed with learning that the lectures and professors like Waldman and Krempe at the university acknowledged that he was far much ahead of the rest of the students at the university.
So engrossed was he that for two full years he never visited his family in Geneva. His father wrote him numerous letters enquiring of his silence, but he replied to those not to those letter, for he felt that his would remain a secret (Fiona, Mary, Penko, 2008).
He was happy with his discoveries and so occupied was he in all this that Victor had no time for friends or family, and all he hoped was that after his dreams had come true he would get back to his normal life and re-unite with family. Little did Victor or the professors know that this knowledge is what would later give way to the creation of a monster, one that would cause massive destruction to Victor’s very own family?
In the quest to understand how lifeless objects could be brought back to life, Victor spent a good portion of his time in morgues and cemeteries, trying to figure out how these lifeless objects could be brought back to life. This is how his wild dreams and imaginations led him to create a monster. In his own words, Victor describes the monster as a yellow-skinned creature, with yellow eyes and convulsive motion that scared his very own being, the very creator of the monster. Though the monster’s hair was black and flowing and its teeth pearly white, its watery eyes were horrid and purely contrasting to the white sockets in which they were set in ((Mary, 2007).
It scared him the more to know that he had spent a considerable amount of time, two years to be precise, on this project, yet it scared him, rather than give him satisfaction for the ‘achievement.’ He had deprived himself of rest and health, but all this had not created any excitement and all it brought was a grip of fear. Why had he gone to this extent to defy God’s order? Breathless horror and disgust is all Victor felt at the sight of this monster that his quest for understanding of life had led him to create. For the days that followed he was haunted by the figure of the ghost and saw images of his dead mother and Elizabeth as a ghost.
The monster followed him wherever he went and tortured him mind and soul. Due to the scary nature of the monster (it was 8plus feet tall and had incomplete body structures) and inability to comprehend how he had given life to a lifeless corpse, Victor escaped from his room and this aggravated the monster because it felt rejected by the human kind. Victor took refuge in the courtyard of the house in which he lived for many of the nights ((Mary, 2007).
This became his lifestyle for many days, till the day when his friend Henry Clerval came looking for him and could not help noticing how weak and ill Victor appeared to be. He got a fever and mind disturbance that rendered him ill for many months but his friend Henry managed to cure him. In the meantime, the monster created by Victor disappeared from the college and its whereabouts are hardly known to Victor or his friend Henry. In the meantime, Elizabeth wrote to him assuring him that once he gets well, he would return home to a happy, united family that loved him dearly, but what irony there was in this letter. As he and Henry contemplated on how to embark on a journey home to re-unite with family, Victor Frankenstein received a letter from his father, informing him that his youngest brother William had been murdered mysteriously in the fields (Joan, 1998).
This marked the beginning of a series of murders that would grip the Frankenstein’s family for days on end. According to the letter written by Victor’s father, William’s body was discovered lying in the field, with marks of a murderer’s fingers on his neck.
As they headed back home to re-unite with family after the sad news, Victor could not help but feel like the most wretched of human beings, and considered that he was destined to endure untold pain and anguish (Joan, 1998).
At around this time, the monster had found its home in Geneva, close to where Victor’s family lived and took its time to observe the lifestyle of the families that live around there. It was at around this time that Justine, the household slave is also murdered as a result of being implicated as the murdered of William. This is because the monster, after killing William, removed a locket that belonged to Victor’s mother from William’s pocket and put it in Justine’s pocket. It was later revealed that it was not Justine who murdered the young boy, but a monster, but the damage is already done and Justine and died an innocent death. On the realization that the monster is behind the two deaths, Victor retreated to the hills, where he hoped to find peace and forgive himself for creating such a destructive monster. It was up in the mountains that the monster caught up with Victor and promises to leave Geneva to an inhabited land, but if only Victor will create another monster that will keep this one company, since it has been rejected by the human kind. On second thought, Victor reasoned that creation of a female monster will give the monster family the ability to procreate and multiply, hence wipe out the human kingdom. He therefore refuses to grant the monster its request and actually destroyed the half completed project of creating a female monster and this aggravated it even the more (Joan, 1998).
This was when the monster launched a revenge mission on Frankenstein and his entire kinsmen. Clerval, who had accompanied Victor to Orkney Island for the creation of the second monster but got lost along the way gets lost in Scotland, is murdered by the monster and his corpse dumped on an Irish beach, where Victor coincidentally finds it. Frankenstein was imprisoned for the murder of Henry but was later acquitted after he fell ill in the prison. Hoping to kill the monster which had on the other hand vowed to revenge, Victor returned home to be united with his family, and this is where monster’s close monitoring of the cottage family reveals his great understanding of himself and those around him. Victor was destined to marry Elizabeth the following day and thinking that the monster had vowed to revenge on him by killing him, Victor asked Elizabeth to remain in the cottage with their father Anopheles and his brother Ernest as he went out to fight and kill the monster (Mary 2007).
Unfortunately, the monster killed the secluded Elizabeth in her own bed. The news was received by Frankenstein’s father, who could just not hold the weight. Grief-stricken by the deaths of almost all his family members, the old man dies out of shock.
Victor vowed to pursue the monster, his own creation, and destroy it but after months of pursuit, the monster and Victor end up where the story began-at Walton’s ship and this brings to an end the story (Mary 2007).
From the story of Frankenstein, it is clear that this character had a great ambition to become a well known scholar and researcher, that he forgot to put family values first before his own desires. It was not known to him that the family that he hoped to gain recognition in would be nowhere to be found by the time he would be through with his discoveries and creations. He went to school for six years, away from home, barely minding about his family and rarely visiting or writing to them, all the while hoping to impress them with his discovery once he was through. This alienation is what later on brought his very destruction and that of his family. A family that was once closely knit became disintegrated and eventually wiped out due to the discoveries made by one of their own in his quest to live in his ambitions (Fiona, Mary, Penko, 2008).
Family and intimate relations are evidenced where it is shown in chapter six that the family normally had moments of going to the fields together as a way of having leisure. When one of them was killed, they agonized as a unit. The closeness is even brought out more clearly when the absence of Victor from his family causes the family to agonize and this made them keep writing to him asking him to come back home. When Victor realized the havoc that the monster was out to cause on the family of Frankenstein and others that lived in the locality, he vowed to go out of his way to do all that was in his power to protect them from the wrath of the monster (Fiona, Mary, Penko, 2008).
Intimate relations are evidenced by the close relationship between Victor and his long time friend Henry. Henry sacrificed one of his semesters in college to watch over Victor when he was sick after the mental torture caused by the monster. Furthermore, Elizabeth and Victor seem to have a very long standing relationship that is more than just blood-bonded. So intimate is the relationship that Victor marries Elizabeth despite the fact that they are cousins as they both refer to each other throughout the novel (Mary, 2007)