Mary Shelley – “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” (1818)

When discussing Frankenstein, two themes, out of dozens, rise. One could be that of literate versus illiterate, or rich versus poor. Victor Frankenstein represents the aristocrats, the higher class people, who are content with keeping the poor uneducated. When the working class man – the “creature” – becomes literate, he becomes dangerous. The creature learns how to read, he begins to think, to reflect on his condition, this leading him to rebel against his oppressors, his “superiors,” his “creator.”

It is important to notice that the “monster” did not choose his condition. He was made this way. He is not a supernatural creature; he is not inherently “evil” (as opposed to Dracula, for example). He is forced to hide, to live in shadows, and eventually to become revengeful, because of the people’s constant rejection and prejudice, and because he had no one to rely on. From this point of view, another theme, on a more metaphysical/religious level, is that the creature represents mankind itself, who feels sometimes left alone and abandoned by its creator, whoever, or whatever that may be. The monster says to Frankenstein that he could have been “[his] Adam,” but is instead his “fallen angel.” Left alone, without love, or moral guidance, encountering only rejection and hate from his very birth, Victor’s creation feels he has no other choice but to give in to hate and revenge, as these feelings are the only ones that allow him to function in a world that rejected him.

Interestingly enough, the creature is not given even a name, being denied even the right to an identity, a life, and, perhaps, even a soul.

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Works cited:

Shelley, Mary – Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (


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