how is frankenstein a study on pride?How is "Frankenstein" a study on pride?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

 In one chapter of Victor Hugo's "Notre Dame de Paris" ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame"), a magistrate watches and listens as the archdeacon tells another man not to interfere as he tries to free a fly from the web into which he has flown.  Don Claude tells the man that the fly, happy, young, seeking the spring sun has flown into the spider's web because of the hand of Fate.  At this statement, the magistrate directs his own thoughts to the archdeacon who delves in alchemy because he seeks to create gold:

Claude, you are the spider, Claude, you are the fly as well!  You flew abroad in search of learning, light, and sun, your only desire was to gain the pure air, the broad light of eternal truth; but in your haste to reach the dazzling window which opens into the other world,--the world of intellect, light, and learning,--blind fly!  senseless doctor! you failed to see that subtl spider's web woven by Fate between the light and you; you plunged headlong into it, wretched fool! and now you struggle in its meches with bruised head and broken wings, in the iron grasp of destiny.

Much like Claude Frollo of Hugo's famous novel, Victor Frankenstein has sought to "reach the dazzling window that opens into the other world" and has been caught in the web of Fate.  He, like Claude Frollo, is a man who would be God in his hubris, believing that he can create to perfection, as well.  Nor can he admit his terrible sin in giving life to the monster--formed in his "own image"--until it is too late for the poor victims of his creation.


Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In answering this question, I would look at the character of Victor as an example of unchecked pride.  Victor is a man of science, but where his pride comes in is within the assertion that scientific prowess can solve all riddles of consciousness.  In this desire to appropriate the world in accordance to one's subjectivity, we see that science, and the way the Victor utilizes it, stresses that within its totality, all ambiguities are resolved.  This is placed under severe challenge when Victor recognizes the reality of his "hideous progeny."  When Victor runs away from the monster that he has created, it is an acknowledgement that pride had taken over the best aspects of Victor's character.  His refusal to take responsibility for his creation at that moment is a reality that pride had subsumed his judgment, and a failure of scientific progress.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no doubt that the Mary Shelley novel, Frankenstein, is a study in pride. From very early on, Frankenstein sought fame, glory, perhaps immortality through the use of science to create life. It would have been different if he had some noble medical cause or cure that he was trying to advance, but he sought only to advance his own self and knowledge. This pride led to the death of innocent loved ones and eveutually destroyed Frankenstein himself. What is perhaps the worst result of this pride, however, is the creature Frankenstein created. He created life, but he did nothing to teach the creature skills he would need to get along physically or socially in society. Frankenstein’s pride was the true monster.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How is it not?  Without Victor's hubris, there would be no situation where he is forced to finally think about others and sacrifice his own family's safety for the whole of mankind by denying the creature his female counterpart.

Victor is playing God throughout the entire book attempting to conquer Nature and get to the heart of the knowledge of life and death.  He is determined to find a way to deny Death's claim on his loved ones...spurred by the death of his beloved mother.  Had he not been so selfish and full of pride to think he could accomplish this, there wouldn't have been such a huge fall from grace with everyone he ever knew and loved dying around him.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That is a great question. Perhaps the Greeks can help you here. One of the basic maxims of the Greeks was summed up in the words, "Know thyself." The implication of this sentence is profound. If you know yourself, then you know that you are not divine. Therefore, you want to keep your proper place in life and not transgress the boundaries and domain of the gods. I think most traditional people who say that the right to create life and take life away is not properly in the hands of people. From this perspective, Frankenstein can be seen as the epitome of pride. He thinks he can create life. Also we see the outcome of pride - a monster.

mkcapen1 | Student

Victor Frankenstein's mother dies.  Victor is an intelligent man from a wealthy family.  He goes to school and discovers that he has interests in the field of creating a human without disease.  In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor has a great deal of pride and confidence.  He knows he will be successful. Victor envisions himself being the great man who has created the perfect human.  He has elevated his stature to "God" by trying to create life. His pride results in his willingness to make the creature without regard to what will happen to the creature.  When Victor sees what a mistake he has made he rejects the creature.  His pride results in the destruction of the people he loves.

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