What The Doctor Ordered
Life is a rat race. In order to succeed, one is required to stay in the front of
the pack. To lead a happy, loving life, however, one must stop and smell the
roses so the meaningful qualities in life don’t pass you by. A prime example of
a person who overlooks this aspect of life can be found in Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein. Through Dr. Frankenstein, Shelley warns readers of the
consequences of playing god and allowing business to take you away from the
simple pleasures in life. As shown through him, too much knowledge and
determination may not be what the doctor ordered. Frankenstein illustrates
god-like characteristics by creating a living creature. As a boy he was
“deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge” (22), and obtained an
“eager desire to learn” (23). This dedication and love for science he
pursued led him to crave more and strive to go one step further than other
scientists have in the past. Devoting his life to learning the sciences of the
human frame, Frankenstein became “capable of bestowing animation upon
lifeless matter” (37), and recognizes the chance to become the father of a
new type of species he can take credit for. Ironically, Frankenstein’s creature
obtains the power to destroy his creator, along with all civilization. If God,
the single perfect being, cannot create perfect life, how could an imperfect
person possibly do it? Frankenstein is oblivious to the danger of his knowledge
and to the “citadel of nature” (25) he will enter by becoming aware of
the “secrets of heaven and earth” (23). Frankenstein travels down a
dangerous path when he goes as far as to play God by exploring supernatural life
and after his work is complete, he fearfully realizes that he not only created a
new life, but with that life, he brought a new form of evil into the world.
During the two years Frankenstein worked on his creation he became totally
absorbed in his work which leads to neglect towards himself, his family, and the
beautiful scenes of nature he, in the past, took pleasure in. Once he dived
headfirst into his project, he showed no signs of coming up for air.
Frankenstein puts his life on hold and “seemed to have lost all soul or
sensation but for this one pursuit” (39). In fear of an unsuccessful
outcome, he ruthlessly works day and night trying to complete his work. In the
process, he “deprived [himself] of rest and health” (42) and became
pale and emaciated due to this lacking. Not only did he neglect his health,
Frankenstein also overlooked his loving family who began to worry about him.
Obviously “[he] knew [his] silence disquieted them” (40), but couldn’t
tear himself away from his work long enough to simply reply to their letters.
Another pleasure Frankenstein tried to forget was the nature he had always found
comfort in. However, not even the “charms of nature” (40) could break
the force field isolating Frankenstein and his creation in the study. Once he
realized all the pleasures he set aside due to the overwhelming desire he beheld
for his work, Frankenstein began making excuses. He made himself believe that
the passion and peace he felt towards his family and the beauties of nature
stood as an obstacle in his path and would only “disturb his
tranquility” (40). When you give up the things you love and the aspects of
life that have always given pleasure to you, you risk losing them forever.
Frankenstein became so caught up in his work he missed out on two years of his
life. He never visited his family and it wasn’t until after his work was done
did he read a letter sent to him by Elizabeth updating him on everything that
had gone on. After Frankenstein is aware of the monster he produced, he
understands all he gave up and now regrets what he allowed his life to become.
Getting caught up in the “rat race” led Dr. Victor Frankenstein to the
terrible fate like had in store for him. All too late, he realizes that a truly
happy man never losses sight of the important aspects he beholds. Also,
understanding “how dangerous the acquirement of knowledge” (38) is and
how his desire to go beyond the laws of nature led to the downfall of his life.
It isn’t until misery and destruction claim his soul does Frankenstein realize
the problems he created by playing God and overlooking the simple pleasures in