Obsession in Frankenstein

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The Dangers of Obsession in Frankenstein

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a man whose passions lead to tragic outcomes. Victor’s intensity and obsessions drive his thirst for knowledge and ultimately, these passions lead him to create a destructive creature. This being that Victor brings to life also develops obsessions that blind the creature from reality, similar to Victor himself.

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As a result, the two characters act irrationally and fail to recognize the consequences of their actions. By illustrating the the dangers of obsessive behavior and poorly thought out decisions, the novel highlights the link between obsession and tragic consequences. Shelley’s Frankenstein portrays an array of characters consumed in and, ultimately by, their obsessions; specifically, Victor’s addiction to creating life and both the creature’s and Victor’s craze for revenge, leading to tragic results.

The novel makes it explicit that obsession must be handled cautiously and has distinct limits; one’s inability to stay within these limits is what leads to tragedy. This negative portrayal of obsession is a constant theme that runs throughout Frankenstein. For instance, the most tragic parts of the novel “ such as the murder of Victor’s family, creation of the being, and battles for revenge “ are all events directly caused by some form of obsession. When Walton first meets Victor, although he is unfamiliar with him, he quickly recognizes Victor’s distorted state as an effect of his obsessive episodes. Walton comments that Victor,appeared to despise himself for being the slave of passion (Shelley 37). Although it may be a common perception that being fixated and passionate beneficially pushes one to their fullest potential, in this novel, having all the passion and obsession in the world is not necessarily a recipe for becoming great (MacPhee, Jack). Rather, the passion Victor and the creature possess are what results in Frankenstein’s disastrous end.

Victor’s overly passionate attitude towards knowledge is what commences his tragic downfall. His interest with science and learning is sparked as he witnesses a tree get struck by lightning as a child. As the tree is being destroyed in front of Victor’s young eyes, he entered on the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism (Shelley 47). This specific moment was the start of Victor’s dangerous obsession and yearning for knowledge. However, this was just the beginning; his studies and passion for understanding reaches its peak when he attends the University of Ingolstadt. There, what started as a harmless interest in science, spirals out of control and puts Victor in jeopardy.

As he becomes increasingly indulged in his studies, Victor is unable to recognize the limits of human knowledge that lie within every field (Destructive Consequences of Single Minded Obsessions). As Victor carelessly passes through these limits and attains a profound understanding of science,

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