Frankenstein – the story of the unfortunate creation forced to remain nameless and find his place in the world after being mercilessly abandoned by his creator. The Monster enters the world confused and lost; a fresh baby mind stumbling to grasp the concept of walking. This treatment of abandonment and rejection and being forced to discover right and wrong becomes the danger itself; producing all the problems and driving the plot; thus resonating on the theme of the dangers of knowledge.
The book of Frankenstein overflows with texts such as letters, notes, journals, inscriptions, and books that are alluded to or quoted. One key reference of literature that tips the theme of dangerous knowledge is the book Paradise Lost. These writings serve as concrete manifestations of characters’ attitudes and emotions.
The Monster learns language through hearing and watching the peasants, and it plays a large role in his development as a character. It enables him to understand the manner of his creation. On reading the popular novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Goethe, the Monster feels sympathy for the anguish of the young lover. Plutarch’s classic Lives, a compendium of biographies, teaches the Monster to see “the difference between virtue and vice in the rulers of antiquity”. But the Creature’s reaction to reading Paradise Lost is the most profound, and it causes him to reflect bitterly on the differences between himself and Adam.
The monster uses the text of Paradise Lost as a true history of humanity, and he understands there is one God, who created all of humanity in his image. Gods creations are natural beings on this earth, and he, who is made by man, is not. These thoughts excite the monster because they allow him to believe there is more out there than just humans, who would never accept him. Reading Paradise Lost allows the Creature to realize that he is, in fact, a monster, and it allows him to believe there is a God who will accept him. God created and protects Adam because he made him in his perfect image, which makes Adam happy and prosperous. Alone in the world, the Monster has no to any other living creature besides the one who created and abandoned him. The Monster is helpless and alone, with nobody to turn to. Victor creates this creature, abandons him, and runs away at the very sight of his own “son”.
The Monster views his position in life as a regretful one. Without a protector, and without friendship, the Monster views himself like Satan. The Monster holds Victor responsible for his misery. When the Monster thinks of Victor, he becomes angry because he is abandoned and basically left for dead at the very moment of his creatio.The monster understands both he and Adam are much alike, but at the same time very different. Both were alone on Earth at the beginning of their lives, except with Adam, God creates Eve in Adams image, while the monster had no one in his own. The Monster sees that it is unfair he is alone, lonely, and in need of friend. It is for those reasons he asks Victor to make him a companion.
There is a connection between the two novels in the sense that both creatures in the books were created in the perfect image of their makers, and in the end were both cast from their makers protection.
Paradise Lost reminds the Monster of how he was created and cast from his own maker’s protection. God’s creations are natural things on this earth, and he, who is made by man, is not.
The Monster longs for the opportunities that Adam had been given. The Mreature was left helpless and alone without any love. He describes his loss of innocence as being responsible for the atrocious acts he has committed, and like Satan, he makes his journey through the worst of landscapes. His resolution to commit acts of aggression against people around him echoes Satan’s ‘Evil, be thou my Good’. Like Satan attacking God through Adam, and Adam through his mate, the Monster attacks Frankenstein through his very own family and friends.
But as much as The Monster relates to the characters in Paradise Lost, so also does Victor Frankenstein who plays God – he resembles Satan. Satan is an archangel punished for his vanity, arrogance, and thirst for forbidden knowledge. Like him, Victor attempts to take over God’s role as creator and master of the universe. The relationship between Frankenstein and Paradise Lost is actually quite complex. On one hand, Frankenstein is like Milton’s Satan in his arrogant challenge against the power of God. But he is also like God, the creator of a being intended to be greater than other creatures. Frankenstein plays God in handling the Monster’s fate, just as the Monster does in judging and punishing Frankenstein. Then again, the Monster, expelled from human society, is like Satan, falling from light into darkness – ‘the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil’, he says at the end of the novel.
The circumstances of the Monster and Frankenstein echo many other aspects of the book: being expelled or refused access to Paradise, having or not having a partner, having or not having the chance of redemption.
One particularly parallel between Frankenstein and Paradise Lost is the idea of humans defying God and believing that they are as wise as or wiser than God and that they have the capacity to do things that only God does. Victor creates a being out of dead body parts, reaching outside of the scope of power for human beings and playing the role of God. Although Frankenstein begins his studies innocently, his quest for forbidden knowledge makes him also experience a fall from grace. And both Frankenstein and his Monster are Adamic twins in the novel; they each need to recognize their makers and at the same time they need to have their own merits acknowledged. When Frankenstein oversteps the boundaries of the morals of science and refuses to name his “son” as his own, he becomes the cruel master of someone he sees as satanic. Yet at the same time, his Creature sees Frankenstein the way Satan sees God: a tyrant rightly deserving destruction.
As Satan cannot distinguish between justice and revenge, so Frankenstein’s monster feels that he has no choice but to exact vengeance on an unjust creator.
Some of the Romantics, especially Blake, Byron, and Percy Shelley, interpreted Paradise Lost as a celebration of Satan — the rebellious hero who defies the power of God. Satan is basically regarded as a victim of the tyrannical power of the establishment rather than as the embodiment of evil. In relation to Satan, Victor Frankenstein is the rebellious character who has faith in his own creative powers and has the courage to aspire higher than his limited human condition allows. However, Mary Shelley does not present Victor’s acts as positive or admirable.Victor’s intellectual curiosity and ambition does not contribute to any scientific advancement or social progress. Instead, he destroys a family and, symbolically, populates the world with monstrous fantasies.
Upon doing some of my own little research, Satan’s fall from heaven is symbolically described in the books of Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18. While these two passages are mostly referring to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, they also reference the spiritual power behind those kings; namely, Satan. These passages basically describe why Satan fell.
Why did Satan fall from heaven? Satan fell because of pride. He desired to be God, not to be a servant of God. Ezekiel 28:12-15 describes Satan as an exceedingly beautiful angel. Satan was the highest of all angels; the anointed cherub, the most beautiful of all of God’s creations, but he was not content with his position. Instead, Satan desired to be God, and take over the rule of the universe.That is even what he tempted Adam and Eve with in the Garden of Eden (in the book of Genesis). How did Satan fall from heaven? God cast him out. So it would be far more appropriate to say that Satan did not fall from heaven; but rather, he was pushed.
The entwining of several works of various authors that are similar to the themes relating with the spark of fire of creation and the dangers of knowledge add a sort of flavour to the novel that is both filling and educating in a way. Even just Paradise Lost in parallel with Frankenstein causes us to see deeper into the story and it’s characters ambitions and development. Mary Shelley used the references to other novels of this time period to help readers connect with the monster by allowing us to feel pity for the monster. This in turn allows us to relate with the monster on a personal level; to understand his emotions and to effectively grasp the concept of the story .