This is an analytical response to Chapter Four of Frankenstein which I believe is the foundation of the novel as a whole, for it compares and contrasts Victor’s changing nature in relation towards the monsters creation.
Victor originally identified science as a means towards discovery, and how it was unlike other areas of study, for within science, the mind is continually engaged; there are no limitations upon the wonder associated with the desire to understand. The only limitation that exists is not the science itself, but it is an individual’s human lifespan, and how it limits their continuing desire to learn. It is natural for a scientist to get involved in a specific area of study and adhere to that aspect, and Victor particularly favoured natural philosophy in terms of physiology. He started to question the causes of life and therefore had to consider life’s awaiting companion, death. In this stage of his pursuit, he was still youthful and innocent in his study, for he became eager and delved into the corruption and decay of the human body. Although it is almost improper and irregular for a man to study death, Victor’s curiosity was questioning, it was not yet an infatuation that limited the human mind’s ability to consider morality.
However, Victor notably began to consider death as an offering or rather a benefactor to nature. A deceased human body was not untouched and foreign to him, for he began to recognize how a human’s soulless corpse can offer food for a worm and consequently progress the life of another living organism. Through this, Victor began to prove his internal argument upon how a dead human body could not only be respected through burying it and encasing it with dirt, but rather using it. He ultimately questioned society’s morals upon death (leaving the dead unstirred) and was developing the justification for his future actions upon using deceased human matter to create life in itself.
This is where Victor has succumbed to his passion and he is not in control of it, as his desire to pursue his discovery upon life controls his mentality contributing to his fatigued physical state. Victor has finally latched onto an area of science and is refusing to disengage from it, and that is where his experimentation and specific study begins. Within this moment, Victor’s pursuit has become his own, and he has perceived himself to be the only individual to direct an inquiry in such preciseness and dedication. When he attained a certainty upon bestowing life to human matter, he believed he was the only one whom had been given the grace and blessing to do so, ultimately conforming himself to selfishness. And through believing he was on the cusp of something no one had even the ability to conceive, it was necessary to bring his mental innovation into reality to physically demonstrate the sagacity that he did not want confined to himself alone; it is as if an innate human part of Victor is alive and is striving towards societal recognition.
There was an assurance instilled within Victor through his new founding ability (to create life), which he deemed factual and therefore logical thoughts instinctively progress into logical action and through creating an unnatural being, Victor believed himself to be honourable within the legitimacy of his discovery. However, he was not able to pause and consider future consequence (creation could potentially inflict harm upon humanity); he was blind to that, and was entrenched within present action. He was not his former definition of a scientist who acquires a “food for discovery”, for he was gratified within his breakthrough. As Victor beheld the result of his discovery (creating life) he was unable to recall how he attained this fulfillment. He forgot his past self and the innocence associated with his former yearn to learn which had caused the fulfillment within his founded revelation upon imbuing animation upon buried human remains. Victor arrived to his present self forgetting how, and therefore lost what he appreciated about his past self. This is exemplified through how his eyes became insensible to the charms of nature; summer did not bring him warmth (sights would delight him before did not anymore), and familial fondness dissipated.
Human doubt remained within Victor but it was not directed to the immortality associated with creating life, but rather he almost hesitated upon his ability to do so. But his success and satisfaction associated with his scientific pursuit would not allow him to succumb to such human doubt and insecurity. Victor had power; he alone had power, and to not use it would be ludicrous. This lead to a certainty associated with future results, for Victor was unable to disbelieve that the imperfect task of creating life would hinder his improvement within future discovery. Almost an internal human reasoning was used within Victor’s enraptured mind to secure the creation of an abnormal creature.
Through Victor’s research associated with exceeding the bounds associated with life and death, he realized that the unknown was a dark place and through physically bringing his creation to life, light would be bestowed upon a portion of the world that was unexplored/unexplained. This prideful rational manipulated Victor into believing what he was doing was self-righteous; he became ignorant to how it was his discovery that was impure and tainted “dark,” and how humanity was more innocent (lively) without such an immoral creation. This juxtaposes with Victor’s actions, as it is within the darkness of the night (lit by the moon) that Victor scavenges for human remains. It is as if he is disgraced and acknowledges his offensive actions, but the utter abhorrence of them are concealed by the secure secrecy the night provides.