How does Mary Shelley explore the dark side of the human mind in Frankenstein?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his obsession to master the realm of science, Victor delves dangerously into the matters of what constitutes life.  As Victor begins to surpass what is known, he enters a realm much like that of Satan in Paradise Lost who dreams of a new world to be created which he may make his own. Like Satan, too, Victor wishes to take on a role that is only God's; in Victor's case this is the creation of a living being that is made from human parts.  This preoccupation with his power to create causes Victor Frankenstein to forsake his humanness; all his desires turn inward to himself, and he abandons his friends and family to his scientific acts of construction or destruction.  Victor's obsession with science hinders the nurturing of his soul and the goodness inherent in him, as the Romantics believed.

Frankenstein's creature exemplifies what happens to the human soul when it is renounced and given no spiritual nourishment.  Interestingly, the creature compares himself to Adam in Milton's Paradise Lost which he has read: 

"It moved every feeling of wonder and awe, that the picture of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures was capable of exciting."

But, the creature remarks, he has been given no Eve.  So, since his creator rejects him and leaves him alone, the creature,then, seeks revenge upon Victor Frankenstein, much as Satan seeks to destroy the human world in his hatred of God.  Unloved and unwanted, the creature retreats into the dark realm of his soul and mind and destroys what Victor has loved in his evil realm of revenge.  Now, he compares himself to Satan, saying,

"Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me." 

 Much like Satan who is rejected by the beings of which he was once a member, the creature, who through abandonment by man enters the dark side, seeks to avenge himself upon these beings. Certainly, in the darkness of their souls, there are parallels between Victor Frankenstein and his creature; in fact, some view the creature as the dark side of Victor himself, rather than a separate being.

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