In the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, various themes begin to develop and they show the experiences in her life. She wrote the novel while she was on a summer holiday in Switzerland with her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley whose wife was expecting a child. Later on Percy’s wife committed suicide and the two got married. Despite this, her life gets marred by deaths and tragedies and that may have inspired her to write. The book reflects her thoughts and ideas about birth, biology and gender equality.
The theme of birth and creation is one of the major themes in Mary Shelley’s novel. Its portrayal is through victor Frankenstein who is the major character in the novel. He pursues knowledge that is even beyond human limit and in so doing he ends up hurting even the people that he cares a lot about. Victor Frankenstein grew up in Geneva and during his youth he widely read books about alchemistry but as he grew older, his interest shifts to modern science, a subject that later became the epitome of his obsession. When he joins Ingolstadt University, he quickly masters all that the professors teach him. While in this university, he discovers the secrets of life and he embarks on a journey to create a human being. He is a ruthless man who can stop at nothing in his pursuit for knowledge and when he discovered the secrets of life, he uses it to create a monster. He devotes all his time in creating the human being. He finally manages to bring forth a life but when he sees what he has created, he gets horrified. The monster is eight feet tall and very strong.However, his mind is like that of a new-born baby. After creating the monster, he damps it and leaves it lonely and alone. He does not take responsibility for what he has created but instead he develops hatred for it and runs away to escape the monster.
Mary Shelley describes the way victor manages to bring forth life as that of a woman giving birth and compares it to when a child is being born. She describes the place where he undertakes his research as a “workshop of filthy creation” is seen as the womb of a woman. Frankenstein has spent a lot of time creating his monster and his body becomes weak and emaciated as a result just like a woman who has undergone labour. The writer describes as a woman experiencing labour pains and Victor Frankenstein’s long hour of creation is like a woman who is in labour. His greed for knowledge leads to him deteriorating physically. His cheeks have grown pale, with study and he has become thin and emaciated because he does not even have time to eat. His obsession and wish to succeed in creating his monster does not even allow him to care for his own self. His body has begun to decay like that of a dead person. It is shocking that a person can focus on something so much that he forgets his own self just like a pregnant woman who after nine months pregnancy becomes exhausted.
In the society only God and women’s ability is to bring forth life and anything else becomes unnatural. Therefore, the fact that victor Frankenstein failed in his quest to create a child is because it is he goes against nature since he is a man. Biologically, only women can give birth and those that try to ‘play god’ with nature fails.
This theme is further developed when we learn that Frankenstein spent winter spring and summer seasons while creating his monster. This directly represents the nine months that takes place before a baby is born as the three seasons added together totals nine months. He works and toils for several months without eating or sleeping and his body succumbs to this. Even as the monster begins to come alive, Frankenstein’s own body has begun to decay and he nearly dies.
Frankenstein main motivation was to create something which would make him happy and which he would bring up like a child. However, when his creation is complete, he gets horrified by it and he runs away leaving the monster alone. He realizes that he has created a monster that is very ugly and as a result he flees away from it. The monster is devoid of any beauty that Frankenstein had conceived in his mind instead it possesses terrible ugliness that leads to people running away from it.This theme therefore seems to directly ridicule parents who bring forth life but are not able to care for it and to give it love.
The theme of birth is important as it is the most precious thing that brings forth life. Mary Shelley the author of Frankenstein saw it as a very important thing. This attributes to the fact that she tragically suffered a miscarriage, but luckily, she later gave birth to a son and a daughter. That is why she attached a lot of importance to the time when Frankenstein creates his creature as for her the act of giving birth is noble.
Creation is also an important theme for Shelley and is like a woman going through labour. Frankenstein recalls that as he created his creature, the moon watched. The moon signifies the cyclic and recurring female biology and in Greek, the moon goddess Artemis was the patroness of childbirth. Frankenstein’s failure reinforces itself throughout the novel by Shelley and in a way she is criticizing Frankenstein for trying to “play god” with nature.
Shelley also attached a lot of importance on parenting and through the theme of birth and creation she manages to express her thoughts about it. In real world and even the world of fiction, a child does not ask the time being born. As a result it is entirely unfair if the child gets rejected and abused by the parents yet they were not forced into having the child. In fact some like Frankenstein wish for the child and when the child is born and do not portray the qualities that the parents intended them to have; they face rejection or worse abandoned by their own parents. Through the theme of birth and creation therefore, Shelley criticizes people like Victor not only for creating the new being, but also for leaving after it comes to life. Victor wishes to create a being that will make him happy as he will be its creator and source. He desires to create a being which would be his child. This idea excites him so much that he devotes his entre time in creating it but when he realizes how ugly the being is he recoils with horror and escapes away from the creature. He says that after he had finished creating the monster, the beauty that he had dreamt about disappeared and instead he became very disappointed and disgusted.
The monster according to the creation by Frankenstein is as innocent as a new-born child. He did not ask for Frankenstein to create him and it is very unfair when he rejects him. Frankenstein’s rejection leads to the monster becoming wild and he embarks on a revenge mission to kill those who are close to him. The monster haunts him and is again deprived from rest as he hides from the monster. Even when he tries to go to sleep, the image of the monster still torments him and he dreams of decaying bodies and hence he suffers from psychological breakdown.
Frankenstein rejection of the monster becomes seriously treated by Shelley. She seems to advocate for the monster to get fair treatment. For her the philosophical argument that people are not born evil is true. Instead it is the caring of these people that determines their behavior. Frankenstein denies compassion to the monster and as a result the monster runs amok killing people in revenge. When he tries to ask victor to end his suffering by creating a female companion for him, he fails to do so by destroying the female half way to completion and as a result the monster wages a revenge war on him.
He is so agitated that he almost becomes mad and Clerval can’t help noticing that something is seriously wrong. His actions are that of a person who has gone insane as he jumps from one chair to another.
In conclusion, the theme of birth and creation is important in the book and were majorly influenced by the experiences that she went through. When she was just ten days old, her mother died and from there her life marks many deaths and tragedies. This leads her to attach a lot of importance on life in general and therefore conception and birth came to mean a lot to her.