Contents Index

Contexts -- Myths -- God

The dual nature of God in the Judeo-Christian conception -- as maker of laws and as merciful father -- translates into many of the binary divisions that thread themselves through Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, perhaps even down to the very notion of binary opposition that is the dynamic impelling its events once Victor and his Creature are separated. The sense that its aesthetic polarities -- the sublime and the beautiful -- also, in an extended way, form its ethical challenges is related to this division. So are the emphasized differences in gender roles that send the men away to solitary adventure that will redefine our knowledge while the women remain at home to nurture their families. Of course, whatever the role in which we conceive of the Judeo-Christian God, unless we flirt with heresy we anticipate that he is responsible for his creation, that he has thought out its end as well as its beginning, and that he is ever watchful to see that his universe runs according to design. Tempted as he is to play God, Victor Frankenstein has no sense of commitment to his design or of responsibility for his creation. Insofar as he casts himself in the role of God, it is to enact that role in a conspicuously ironic manner.