Romantic and Enlightenment Ideas in Frankenstein Essay

1153 Words5 Pages
The Enlightenment age encouraged everyone to use reason and science in order to rid the world of barbarism and superstition. In fact, Kant argued that the "public use of one's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men" (Kant 3). Enlightenment thinking not only influenced philosophy and the sciences, but also literature (especially in Pope's Essay on Man). In reaction to Enlightenment's strict empiricism, Romanticism was born. In Frankenstein, Shelley argues (1) that Victor Frankenstein's role as an Enlightenment hero, not only pulled him out of nature, but made him a slave to his creation; (2) that Frankenstein's role as a revolting romantic failed, because he didn't take responsibility for his…show more content…
Victor commented on Clerval's view of nature:

He was alive to every new scene, joyful when he saw the beauties of the setting sun, and more happy when he beheld it rise and recommence the new day. He pointed out . . . this is what it is to live (139).

Once Victor had created his monster, he became a slave to his own creation.

As a Romantic, Victor studied metaphysics and alchemy (through his study of Agrippa, Magnus and Parcelsus) in order to find "the elixer of life" (26). Mr. Krempe, professor of natural philosophy, complains: "I little expected, in this enlightened and scientific age, to find a disciple of Albertus Magus and Paracelsus" (31). So though he studied the sciences, his "inquiries were directed to the metaphysical" (23), which would please most Romantics. His studies of alchemy and metaphysics led him to the romantic act of creation. But instead of loving his creation, his "heart sickened and . . . [his] feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred" (132). He cried that he was "unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created. . ." (Shelley 42). The monster complained that he was born "benevolent and good; [but because of his creator's mistreatment] misery made me a fiend" (84). Shelley alludes that Victor's creation of the monster, is likened to God creating a "fallen angel" (84). The irony is that God never created
Get Access