The Monster in the Lab Coat

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The Monster in the Lab Coat Many literary critics have long argued a question regarding Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Who is the real monster? One can argue that, throughout the novel, it is Victor Frankenstein, the overly ambitious scientist, who is the true monster. Victor Frankenstein is depicted as a callous creator who shows no empathy to his own innocent creature. Frankenstein fails his responsibility as a creator and abandons his creation to a life full of abhorrence. The creature has infinite potential, but it is Frankenstein’s prideful nature and negligence that makes the creature become “monstrous”. Frankenstein’s selfish pride stems from his unbridled curiosity and obsession. Frankenstein’s curiosity was first aroused as a child after he read a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa (Shelley 39; ch. 2). When Frankenstein’s father explains to him why he shouldn’t continue to waste his time on the reading the book, Frankenstein instead defies his father’s wishes and continues to “read with the greatest avidity” (Shelley 40; ch. 2). In this situation, Frankenstein shows an early sign of how he is tempted and easily carried away by his curiosity. He himself says he has always been “deeply smitten with the thirst of knowledge” (qtd. in Berman). In another instance in his later life, Frankenstein is again tempted into attaining knowledge that is forbidden. Goldberg states that Frankenstein’s quest for how to create life appeared “as a benevolent intention” but becomes “a selfish pursuit aimed at self glory” (14:278). Frankenstein’s obsession with becoming a God-like creator is illustrated when he says, “It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in it
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