A prominent theme in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is science vs. nature. It is similar to Neuromancer in that the narrator defies nature through science, just as the characters in Neuromancer reject their natural selves in favor of technology. The narrator, Victor Frankenstein, is a natural philosopher who is so fixated on the creation and destruction of life that he devotes years to discovering a way to create life in inanimate objects. Once Frankenstein accomplishes this feat, he has, in a sense, upset the balance of nature. In creating this one unnatural life, Frankenstein also destroys the lives of others.
It is no coincidence that Frankenstein becomes ill as he works on creating this unnatural life. He explains that the fever and nervousness that plagued him every night was “a disease that I regretted the more because I had hitherto enjoyed most excellent health..” (Shelley 83). Although he normally does not get sick often, Frankenstein repeatedly falls ill while working on this project. I think this frequent illness is nature’s way of urging Frankenstein to stop this pursuit. Creating life in this manner is unnatural and will undoubtedly have consequences. As Frankenstein grows closer to reaching his goal, he destroys his own life in the process.
After creating the monster, Frankenstein realizes that he is deprived of life. He has no contact with family or friends and has no regard for the environment around him. When he is reunited with Henry Clerval, Frankenstein admits “I was lifeless, and did not recover my senses for a long, long time” (86). Although in the presence of his dear childhood friend, Frankenstein’s fear of the monster he created drives him insane and he becomes extremely ill. His devotion to giving life to an inanimate object actually drains the life out of Frankenstein himself.
In addition to destroying his own life, Frankenstein destroys the lives of both his brother and Justine. The monster murders Frankenstein’s brother William, and Justine is wrongfully convicted as his murderer. While awaiting the result of Justine’s trial, Frankenstein wonders “whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices would cause the death of two of my fellow-beings” (103). He realizes that if Justine is convicted of murder, he must take responsibility for destroying her life, in addition to his brother’s life. Frankenstein is to blame for these deaths because he created the monster that caused them.
Frankenstein destroys his own life, as well as the lives of those close to him as a consequence of creating the monster. When life is created unnaturally, nature destroys lives to restore balance.