‘Frankenstein’ is a book that I have been meaning to rad for a fair few years now. It was only recently, when spurned to read it on by my partner Sarah, as well as Andre during a tutorial just two weeks ago, that I finally continued my reading of the book, and have been filled with a wealth of inspiration and information on the nature of ‘Re-animation’, as well as notions of the ‘Sublime’, and a renewed outlook on Alchemical processes. I am a sucker for a tragic tale, and this novel has provided me with one of great despondence and misery. Dr. Frankenstein, in the pursuit of an unknown and diabolical truth, creates life from the corpses and remains of animals and human beings; creating a creature that has technically ‘risen from the dead’. He is inspired to create this ‘spark’ of life after witnessing a tree be obliterated by a lightning bolt, and becomes somewhat of a modern Prometheus; taking the knowledge of a God – the secret of life, and instilling his creation with it. After the monster is ‘born’, it terrifies it’s creator with it’s horrific appearance, stealing away to the wilderness, where it learns of human nature, language, emotion, and all that is it to be human through experience, and the careful surveillance of a small family in poverty. As it comes to learn what it is to have consciousness; it learns how to hate, and to feel loneliness, and realises that it is alone in the world; and always shall be.
There are a lot of parallels to the tales of Lucifer’s fall from grace, as well as the tale of Prometheus. The Monster is cast out from under his creator’s whim, because he is deemed unfit to be in his presence; as well as Frankenstein falling from society and grace due to his fear and loathing over what he has created torturing his psyche; which eventually drives him to the brink of insanity. Through this, The monster destroys everything that Frankenstein loves, in order to imbue him with the same lack of societal ties; as the monster is alone, then Frankenstein must be too; and yet, they are tied through their relationship – they will never truly be alone, as they are tormented by one another. There is also a theme of ‘lost innocence’, in the sense that the monster loses his innocence through his expulsion from mankind, as well as Frankenstein; upon creating the monster as a means of highlighting the true power of humanity, and the prospect of immortality; and therefore transcendence, realises that he has created nothing more than a being that reflects humanity’s own inherent flaws. The monster is a reflection of the creator, as God made us ‘in his own image’. They both descend into the bowels of their own vengeance filled minds; and they both are tied through the delicate bond of Creator, and the Created.
‘Prometheus Carrying Fire’ – Jan Cossiers
(image taken from; http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3ey9nO6Qa1qfzhjlo1_1280.jpg)
There are also two recurring symbols within the novel; Fire & Light. Intrinsically linked; one provides enlightenment and knowledge, whereas the other wreaks destruction. Victor attempts to give the gift of the secret of life to humanity (light), but ends up suffering grave punishment as a result: the monster he creates destroys his family and his life. Fire appears throughout the novel as a dangerous force used for sustenance – as when the monster discovers fire, and punishment – when the monster describes demons suffering in the lake of fire in hell. This idea of destruction, but also of knowledge, is found throughout many of the prominent images of the book; often times, the monster appears to Frankenstein when illuminated by the light of the moon, as well as the tree being engulfed in light and flame; showcasing the danger that forbidden knowledge holds, and the power of Nature, which Victor attempts to transmute and harness (with disastrous results).
These notions of Re-animation, of the role of the creator being passed down to ourselves, as the danger and delight of forbidden knowledge, of alchemical magic, and of the failings of Man are all fascinating concepts, and will surely influence my work.