Frankenstein

by: Mary Shelley

Five Key Questions

1) Why does Frankenstein create the Monster?

Frankenstein believes that by creating the Monster, he can discover the secrets of “life and death,” create a “new species,” and learn how to “renew life.” He is motivated to attempt these things by ambition. He wants to achieve something great, even if it comes at great cost. He gives several different accounts of where his ambition comes from, reflecting his ambivalent attitude toward it. Sometimes he sees it as a character flaw, comparing his ambition to Satan’s, “the archangel who aspired to omnipotence.” Often, however, he suggests that he had a moral duty to follow his ambition: “I deemed it criminal to throw away in useless grief those talents that might be useful to my fellow-creatures.” Some readers have suggested that Frankenstein is desperate to “renew life” because he is still grieving for his mother. She dies shortly before he begins to study science. After the Monster’s creation Frankenstein dreams about Elizabeth turning into his mother’s corpse, which could be seen as Frankenstein’s subconscious recognizing that he has failed to create life in a way which could bring his mother back.