Discuss the symbolism behind Victor Frankenstein's crime against nature.

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Victor is a mortal, but he suffers from extreme hubris (or pride) so much so that he believes that he can--and should--create human beings in a manner that defies nature and natural laws. He says,

Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing these reflections, I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption.

Life and death, of course, are not imaginary boundaries for humans, at least not yet (and certainly not two hundred years ago). Victor believes that he can bring "light into [the] dark world" as a god would or could do. He thinks that he will create a new species and be more of a father than any other father has been before (so, more than the god or gods that created humanity). He believes that he can reanimate the dead pieces of others' bodies and create new life. Now, in Greek mythology, any mortal who is so proud that they try to take their place with the gods or usurp their power or challenge them, basically always dies tragically. Phaethon wants to drive the sun god's chariot--something not even Zeus can do--and he dies in the attempt. Bellerophon tries to ride Pegasus to Olympus to be with the gods, is thrown from the winged horse's back, and dies alone and miserable. Otus and Ephialtes try to trap and marry Artemis, but she tricks them into shooting each other. The list goes on. When mortals try to act as though they are equal to immortals, it always goes so poorly for those mortals, and Victor--the Modern Prometheus indicated by the subtitle--can be no exception. His crime against nature is that he tries to be like the gods, and what he creates is a monstrous thing that frightens everyone and looks like no one. His creature is a symbol of Victor's horrible pride and mortal failures.

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Victor's "crime" against nature is his attempt to play God and create life from inanimate matter. He succeeds but the personal cost is high, and what he creates is, at least outwardly, a perversion of a human being, a creature so monstrous it appalls its creator and frightens all other people. The creature itself, rejected, hideous, and with no natural home in the world, is a symbol of Victor's overreach. He could not do what God did and create a being in harmony with the rest of creation.

Another symbol of Victor's crime can be found in the subtitle of the novel, The Modern Prometheus. Victor is compared to Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. Prometheus is another example of playing god against the will of the gods. Prometheus and Victor are punished and tormented for what they have done.

Victor's increasing isolation and loss of health as he creates the monster also represents his crime: he tries to set himself apart from ordinary people, drives himself too hard, and is so goaded by ambition he refuses to recognize he is going down a bad path.

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Victor's crime was trying to play God and create human life. Since he is not God, all of nature seems to symbolically fight him from the moment his creation opens its "dull yellow eye." No matter where Frankenstein goes to escape (and it is often in nature - the Alps, etc.) the monster is there. Even the cold, arctic works against him because the creature transcends nature and adapts to all conditions. While living out in nature (the forest), the monster teaches himself to talk, read and write, so this, too, acts against Victor. All nature seems to join forces to fight Victor's crime against it, the creation of the monster.

The monster is the biggest symbol of Victor's crime against nature, then. The monster himself tells Victor how he has suffered because of his creation - he is miserable because he has learned that he is sub-human, a beast that frightens everyone. He is ugly, huge and alone. The monster represents the ugliness of human pride because Victor created the monster out of a desire to become famous, to achieve recognition in his field of science. The monster kills everyone that Victor loves and in so doing, perpetuates Victor's crime of creating him in the first place. Victor's creation also becomes his undoing because the monster has made Victor's life as miserable as his own. Both Victor and the Monster travel all over the globe, one running away from his creation and the other running towards his creator. Nature has been perverted and it is a crime on many levels.

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