Frankenstein Questions and Answers
by Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein Tragic Hero

How is Frankenstein a tragic hero?

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Mike Walter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To consider Victor Frankenstein’s status as a tragic hero, we have to look not only at Frankenstein’s character, but also at the intent of the author, Mary Shelley.

Obviously Victor Frankenstein meets a tragic end as a result of a tragic character flaw—he dies pursuing the monster that he created out of his own misguided attempt to manipulate nature by endeavoring to do something man was never meant to do—create life.

However, once Victor has created this life—the grotesque monster that humanity finds so frightening—another character flaw emerges. The monster is not inherently evil; it tries to find human companionship and even bestows kindness on others, but it simply cannot find acceptance, even from its creator. If Victor had been able to engage in an appropriate relationship with his creation he might have still been able to consider the experiment a success. But instead, he cannot...

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Victor Frankenstein, the main protagonist of Mary Shelley's cautionary novel Frankenstein, is a tragic hero who had been rewarded with everything a person could desire, but lost it all due to his choices. Born in a wealthy family, loved by all (friends, family) and highly gifted, Victor forgoes his family and friends for his desire to dabble with nature. When he finally succeeds in giving life, he creates a monster - not so much by experimentation, but by the lack of care and affection that he should have given the creature. When the creature begins exacting his revenge by murdering Victor's family members and friend, he cannot even tell anybody who is the real murderer for fear of being labeled mad. Finally when the creature kills Victor's beloved on the night of his wedding, he realizes that he has lost everything that ever mattered to him and leaves in search of the monster to finally destroy him once and for all. He dies in this pursuit. From someone who had everything, choices and desires lead him to become one who had nothing, absolutely nothing - what a tragedy.