In researching Mary Shelley, I came to the conclusion that she was most likely an unreligious person. After finishing Frankenstein, the counter religious attitude of Shelley seems to be present. It seems like Shelley is not simply ignoring religion and leaving it out, but instead arguing against it.
By the end of volume I, Frankenstein seems very similar to the creation story from Genesis. Just as Adam wishes for a companion, the creature wishes the same. And we think that just like God, Frankenstein will grant his creation’s wish. The creature “implores [Frankenstein’s] goodness and compassion,” yet Frankenstein ends up acting as a terrible father-figure (Shelley, 119). Frankenstein changes his mind and decides to deny the creatures wish. Thus, Frankenstein’s similarity to god and a father in general seems to diminish. What then is Shelley trying to say about the bible and religion? Is religion necessary for morally right decisions? The only way to answer this is to look at the similarities and difference between Shelley’s Frankenstein and the bible, and what Shelley does with them
I feel that each character has references to multiple biblical characters as the book progresses. There is no doubt that Frankenstein acts similar to God in the beginning of the book. However, his lack of respect for his “son” or creation seems to demote him to a father. This could almost be Shelley mocking the concept of a god, who supposedly creates you, and then just throws you out into the world to fend for yourself.
The decision Frankenstein makes to ignore the creatures wish seems to even label him as a bad father. Yet, interestingly the decision he makes whether to save humanity from a race of monsters, or save himself can be related to the decision Jesus made when he died on the cross. Jesus had the choice to save himself from extraordinary pain, or instead save humanity from sin. Yet Frankenstein’s decision is different from Jesus’ in one major way. What Frankenstein is saving the world from has the potential of being good, while sin is never good.
Although different characters in the story can be related to biblical figures, Frankenstein takes place in a world that seems to be lacking religion. Despite this at the conclusion of the story Frankenstein dies a morally sound man. For on his death beds, it was “my duty,” to act as a father (Shelley, 214). The creature leaves morally sound and forgiving as well. When the creature comes to ask forgiveness to Frankenstein he states “but it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless” (shelley 220). Frankenstein finally comes to the conclusion that he should have been a better father, while the monster regrets his actions. The fact that each of them reached these states without any evidence of religious beliefs seems as if Shelley is making a point. Moral decisions and people can be reached without religion. Thus, Shelley could be questioning the necessity of Christianity in general.