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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein is a man suffering from pathological narcissism. This narcissism is manifested specifically in Frankenstein's case in his grandiosity and the gratification he derives from his admiration for his own mental attributes. As with Narcissus, Frankenstein's self-obsession ends in disaster and death as the object he creates outside of himself as representation of his self-love ultimately brings about his own demise. Frankenstein is completely obsessed with the quest for power and knowledge, specifically power over nature, and, by extension, over death. His creation of the monster, in this context, is an expression of his desire to live beyond death, if indirectly in the monster. Ironically, that is what does occur--the monster outlives his narcissistic creator, although perhaps not for long, as the monster exits vowing to destroy himself.

Frankenstein is driven by his belief that there is nothing greater in life than the mind and will of men, especially great men, a category in which he certainly includes himself. If the doctor were in a Greek tragedy, one would speak of his hubris, his putting himself above the gods, or God. He believes that there are no limits to what he can do in his desire to conquer nature, even life and death:

I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life. . . What glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!" (Shelley 31).

Even after the monster has killed his beloved Elizabeth, the doctor continues to see himself as the only one who knows what is going on and what must be done. He rages at the monster, never fully realizing he is the monster, a man who has tried to be God. In fact, one might argue that the poor monster, as evidenced by his final speech, is far more human in his capacity for compassion, the ...

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:30, August 07, 2020, from