Playing God in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay

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In his Poetics, Aristotle defines the tragic hero as a man of high social status who invites the gods to punish him through overbearing pride and/or presumption – hubris. It would be simple to assign the label of hubristic tragic hero to Victor Frankenstein, but such assignment of a label would be an oversimplification. The gods in Greek drama punish, albeit harshly, in an outright manner. The tragic figure is aware that the gods have forsaken him, and he resigns to live his life under the demands of retribution. Victor Frankenstein’s fate is not so simple; fate is crueler to Victor and more spiteful than he could ever be to the heavens. The question that precedes all others, however, is who is or what acts as god in…show more content…
Christianity made humanity’s views on nature and God anthropocentric; man was “the sole subject, speaker, and rational sovereign of the natural order” (Manes 21). By removing the godly powers from nature, it becomes open to exploit and experimentation.

Western scientists, beginning around the thirteenth century, took this one step further.
They began making discoveries and formulating experiments under the pretext of discovering how God’s creatures operate. The danger suspected by naturalists proved true – men of science began to feel that nature belonged to them and that if God had allowed them to get so close to nature and its functions, that they were obviously allowed to play with it as they pleased:

As technologies enabling dramatic transformations of the natural order increasingly appeared in the modern period, and as a new and much more powerful knowledge of what was believed to be the true order of nature began to emerge in the science of
Galileo, Newton and their successors, is it so surprising that Westerners came to think of themselves as “lords of creation” with a possibility, and a mandate, to expand human powers over nature …? (Kaufman 9)

It is therefore not surprising that a man of Victor Frankenstein’s time, education, and passions would succumb to such a mentality. Victor himself explains his fascination with these scientists: They penetrate into the recesses of nature, and show how she works in her
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