Mary Shelley's novel is a seminal parable for the modern world, for its theme has been imitated in literature and, of course, in countless science fiction films. Basically, the theme is the paradox of modern man who, through science, produces miracles but is unable to control their results.
As in the legend of the Golem upon which she partly based her story, Shelley's Dr. Frankenstein creates a "monster" without understanding that his creation will become an independent entity whose actions are unpredictable and dangerous. In some sense, it is Frankenstein's own fault, or in fact, his own choice, that this happens. The most crucial scene in the novel occurs when the monster pulls back the curtain of the doctor's bed, terrifying him and causing him to flee. Frankenstein is thus guilty of abandoning his own "child," and this "sin" is a metaphor for man's potential recklessness and misuse of the power he has created. Science fails Dr. Frankenstein because his moral weakness is such that he does not take responsibility for his use of science and for his own handiwork, the monster. Shelley wrote her story at a time when the industrial revolution and applied science—technology—were creating the beginnings of the modern world and would soon result in a series of fabulous inventions: steam power, gaslight, and only a few decades later, the telegraph, photography, railway travel, and the like. She was prophetic in that, as we can see today, the consequences of technology, like Frankenstein's creation, are not fully controlled and have resulted in environmental damage and climate change.
Marlowe's Doctor Faustus is another seminal literary character to whom Frankenstein is similar, because both men are striving for something beyond the normal dimensions of human experience. Faustus wishes to gain a kind of super power, not through "conventional" magic, but through a pact with the devil, Mephistopheles. He wishes to achieve some ultimate experience that transcends normal human life, even if he must sell his soul (which he does) to achieve it. The climax is his encounter with Helen of Troy near the end of the story. But even after this, Faustus has no sense of fulfillment. All that is left for him is the terror of realizing that he has condemned his own soul to hell as a result of his bargain with Mephistopheles.
Frankenstein's science fails him because, in creating life, he oversteps the bounds of what he is able to control or understand; although, it doesn't help that he abandons his creation, either. It's not so much the failure of "science" as it is that of man's human weakness. In the same way, the magical powers granted Faustus by the devil do not achieve their purpose because Faustus never gains the fulfillment of an ultimate experience that he wishes, and he ends up destroying his own soul. In both characters' experiences, the failures are similar because it is man's own inherent weaknesses and flaws that bring about catastrophe.