Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”: A Tale of Longing for Love
Posted On February 21, 2018
Few names are more associated with monster stories than that of “Frankenstein.” The iconic image of Boris Karloff’s lumbering freak with bolts in his head has morphed into the common perception of Frankenstein’s monster.
For all the trappings of horror, the book on which the movies are based is actually a consideration of relationships. There is the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and his family and friends, and especially his eventual bride Elizabeth. There is the relationship between Victor and his creation, the monster. From that relationship flows the relationship between the monster and the world around him, a complex web in which he longs to love and be loved (as seen with the family he “adopts” and learns much from) but is instead rejected by all who see him. The monster’s driving desire is companionship, but his ghastly appearance prohibits it. When humanity rejects him, he turns to his creator and asks Frankenstein to make a bride for him. When Victor eventually refuses, the monster directly and indirectly causes the death of all those whom Victor loves. The monster wants companionship and love but is rejected at every turn, even by his maker.
Perhaps the greatest relational loss for the monster is that he has no communion with his creator. Victor repents constantly of the demon he made, and wants nothing to do with him. The monster is thus cut off from every possible relationship and turns to violence and revenge:
I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You my creator, would tear me to pieces, and triumph; remember that. And tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me? (131)
This dialogue is at the center of this relational longing. The ache of utter loneliness forms the heartbeat of Frankenstein’s monster and drives him first to seek love. But as his following words demonstrate, that same ache spurs him to seek revenge by taking away everything and everyone that Victor loves:
I will revenge my injuries; if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear, and chiefly towards you my arch-enemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred. Have a care; I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heart, so that you shall curse the hour of your birth. (132)
The monster carries out his dark promises, and Victor concludes his days in the same solitude he condemned his creation to, fueled like the monster by the desire for revenge. One could say, “Like creator, like creature.” We could even designate the monster an imago hominis or, more precisely, imago Victor.
Mary Shelley’s story is tragic. But the beautiful reminder to the Christian reading the ugly tale of Frankenstein’s monster is that our Creator is quite unlike Victor Frankenstein. Victor refused to make the monster a wife, but when God saw Adam’s loneliness he fashioned a bride for him. Victor abandoned his creation; God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. Even though our sin creates a barrier between us and the thrice holy God, in Christ we are reconciled to Him. In Christ, we have everlasting communion with our Creator, and we have true fellowship with one another. These truths should stir our hearts to praise a Creator who loves His people and does not abandon them—a Creator who is not a Frankenstein.
By D. M. Gibson, a senior student at Reformation Bible College.
All quotes from Barnes & Nobles 2015 edition.