To me, one of the main themes of Frankenstein is the gradual shift of power from the life-giver Frankenstein to his creation. This transfer of power comes to a head in the third and final volume of the novel. We see Frankenstein shrink, disown, fear, and flee from the creature he endowed with being. We even see his health disintegrate. In volume III, Frankenstein is reduced to a prisoner and puppet at the behest of a powerful monster. The lines between creator and creature are blurred and even flipped.
Frankenstein is confronted by his creation who, through means of manipulation and sheer power-of-will, gets his once-master’s consent to create a companion for him. Frankenstein, so fearing at every turn the strength and potential wrath of his creation, unwillingly labors to fulfill his wish, never daring to waver. The creature becomes the master of the creator. Frankenstein becomes the “slave of my creature” (Pg. 127). The once-proud endower-of-life now mortally fears his creature. “Every moment I feared to meet my persecutor” (Pg. 137). Frankenstein, in his last foolish act of defiance, eventually refuses to continue his work for his creature. The monster confronts Frankenstein and delivers a fearsome, commanding threat illustrating the complete and total power he has over his once-powerful creator: “Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; – obey!” (Pg. 140).
We also see the monster shift from his previously-demonstrated human characteristics and he take takes on a sort of super-human, almost god-like strength, power, and cunning. “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict.” (Pg. 140). “…nor can you wonder, that, omnipotent as the fiend had yet been in his deeds of blood, I should almost regard him as invincible; and that when he had pronounced the words, ‘I shall be with you on your wedding-night,’ I should regard the threatened fate as unavoidable.” (Pg. 161). Words such as “invincible”, “omnipotent”, and “unavoidable” illustrate this absolute finality of the power the creature has over his creator.
His power extends so far that Frankenstein, miserable to the point of wishing for death, vows that he will live until he extinguishes the life of his creation no matter the cost. The monster begins to toy with Frankenstein and migrates northward to a land of ice knowing Frankenstein will follow and suffer for it. “I seek the everlasting ices of the north where you will feel the misery of cold and frost, to which I am impassive.” (Pg. 174) Perhaps the most pivotal, poignant line in volume III is found on pages 177-178. “…swear that he shall not triumph over my accumulated woes, and live to make another such a wretch as I am.” This is Frankenstein speaking of his monster. The creature becomes the creator. The monster is now seen as the creator of wretches instead of the created wretch. In the end, the monster exercises his ultimate power by extinguishing the life of his life-giver.
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