Fate in Frankenstein

Intertwined within the narrative of the first volume of Frankenstein, the title character constantly experiences moral dilemma as a result of his actions. The whole story being told in retrospect makes the reader aware that, in the present, Frankenstein fully understands the destruction that he and his creation caused and in the time leading up to and following these events, he considered the factors that saw them to completion. However, what Shelley doesn’t make quite clear through this story-telling technique is that Frankenstein considers himself fully responsible.

In the 1831 revision of Frankenstein, Shelley strays from the idea that the doctor himself, and any underlying corruption of morality on his part were to blame for the evil he ended up creating. In this way, Frankenstein’s creation is instead the result of a confluence of predispositions that could have influenced anyone with Frankenstein’s interest in science and life history to have completed the same action and have arrived at the same result.

It seems that with each misfortune along this timeline that Frankenstein describes, he’s compelled to send a shoutout to fate for being the reason they were ultimately unavoidable. When his mother dies, he calls the death an “omen of future misery,” owing to his ensuing preoccupation with death. Even to seemingly ordinary elements of his personality he assigns a great significance over what happened in his future (i.e. his passion for science), but blames fate and destiny for being the reasons that he couldn’t stop himself from following a path that would lead him to creating the monster.

In some instances, Shelley’s preoccupation with the idea of an unchanging fate serves on a somewhat shallow level as fuel for the movement of the plot, in that some events are written-in solely so that Frankenstein will eventually find himself at a place where his decision to create the monster seems like the only available one. In this way, fate is a force that seals itself, regardless of Frankenstein’s say in the matter. On another level, Frankenstein’s continual accusation of fate redirects any discussion of his morality for the characters in the book and supposedly also for Shelley. In reality however, such an argument might not hold the same ground.

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