Frankenstein: Mary Shelley Modifying Paradise Lost
While there are many differences between Frankenstein by Mary Shelly and “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, there are plenty of things to compare. Both the authors write about the major struggle between good and evil. The characters in both Frankenstein and “Paradise Lost”, have similarities such as God and Victor to the devil and the monster. God and Victor are similar since they are both creators of life. The devil and the monster are similar because they are both cast out by their creators.
In Frankenstein, the beginning Victor’s life seems to be like any normal child’s life. His family is known to be the most prominent family in Genevese. There was a lot of pleasantness in his childhood such as Milton’s portrayal of the Garden of Eden in “Paradise Lost” before Satan emerged. As the beginning of both stories starts off alike, you start to see the similarities in the characters. In Frankenstein Victor is known as the creator of “the monster” and in “Paradise Lost”, God is the ultimate creator of Satan, Adam, and Eve. Victor from Frankenstein contains the power such as God does to create life, but Victor differs from God by creating life through science. He gives life to things that were once nonexistence which soon develops in him having a God complex. Though Victor is a creator like God, he seems more of a non-loving or non-caring God. Victor is more of a fallen God since he does not care to love or watch over his creations like God in “Paradise Lost”. That is where the two differ in being creators.
The monster and the devil are cast out by their creators. The devil was cast out because of wanting to become like or more powerful the God, and the monster was cast out since his creator did not care about him. When the monster in Frankenstein gets his hands upon a satchel of books, one of them being “Paradise Lost.” The monster expresses “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.” (Shelley, Chapter 15). The monster compares his dilemma with Satan’s, cast out of heaven for jealousy of those who relish in Heaven’s triumph. Like Satan, the creature realizes the benefits his handlers have been born human and not being created as he and Satan were
There are similarities between Adam and the monster as well. As Adam and Eve were tempted by knowledge by eating fruit from the forbidden tree when they were not supposed to, the creature discovers how to read as he thirsted for knowledge. In both stories, it leads to catastrophe. In Adam and Eve’s case, the result leads to them being banished from the Garden of Eden into the real world. The creature is lead to the truth of his creation in Dr. Frankenstein’s journals about him being created. When the creature finds out about his discovery he is devastated: “I exclaimed in agony, ‘Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God in his pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image, but my form is a filthy type of your’s [sic], more horrid from its very resemblance.”
The feeling of rejection is overwhelming here. Adam and the creature were both rejected by their creators and cast out of their aura. Both are sheer versions of originals. Both feel that lack of greatness in their creation. Both feel insufficient and rejected by the one who should love them most since they created them.
Many can also say Victor is like Satan. Victor playing God compares to Satan from “Paradise Lost”, in which Satan is an archangel banished from heaven his arrogance, and his desire to become God. Like him, Victor attempts to become like God and be a creator and ruler of life. This success, Victor envisions, will be an improved one, and the lively and admirable beings that he will create will bow down to him and honor him like he is the most worthy father.
Like in “Paradise Lost” Satan, Victor is an unruly character who believes in his own invention and has the courage to aim higher than his constrained human form permits. Nevertheless, Mary Shelley does not represent Victor’s acts as positive or commendable. Victor’s curiosity and ambition do not contribute to any scientific progression or social growth. Instead, he demolishes a family and, metaphorically, fills the world with monstrous fantasies.
Whenever “Paradise Lost” is mentioned in Frankenstein. Eve seems to be left out. She seems to be a forgotten character from “Paradise Lost”. The non-existence of Eve is seen when the monster demands Victor for a female companion. The monster speaks of Adam and the “fallen angel” but does not mention Eve. Although Eve is not mentioned in Mary Shelly’s novel, there is a feminine aspect. The females are simply not courageous characters. This is because they are not the reason for any of Victor’s ideas. Unlike in “Paradise Lost’, where Eve was the chief cause of ideas. In “Paradise Lost”, Adam fell because of Eve’s troubling actions. The entire antonym is the cause of the fall in Frankenstein. The monster was lonely and without a female companion, and that is why he did outrageous things. Not having a companion is what caused the monster’s fall.
Both Frankenstein by Mary Shelly and “Paradise Lost” by John Milton is different in many ways but so much alike in character personalities. Besides the noticeable moments mentioned in Frankenstein when Mary Shelly refers to “Paradise Lost”. Many of her characters seemed to correspond with Milton’s. God and Victor are much alike in their creator qualities. The monster and Satan are similar in relations that their creators both rejected and cast them out of their presence. Mary Shelly has done fascinating work on modifying Paradise Lost and matching it into a long-lasting narration of fallen workforces who play irreverent roles.
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