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Still the wretched fools they were before
Goethe in Faust and Shelley in Frankenstein, wrap their
stories around two men whose mental and physical actions parallel
one another. Both stories deal with characters, who strive to be
the übermensch in their world. In Faust, the striving fellow,
Faust, seeks physical and mental wholeness in knowledge and
disaster in lust. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein struggles
for control over one aspect of nature and disastrously, through
the monster, nature controls him to a much greater degree. Many
powers are much too mighty for mortal souls, a lesson that
Frankenstein and Faust learn by the end of their tales. While
voluntarily excommunicating themselves from society, both
characters accomplish a portion of their goal and yet they
remain unhappy because they never control the "perfect" life they
have built for themselves.
In Faust, the intelligent gentleman Faust, seeks spiritual
wholeness in knowledge. Through years of hard study, Faust
becomes knowledgeable in math, sciences and religion and yet he
becomes inept and incapable of having any romantic or physical
relationships with the outside world. As Faust strives to become
the "over man" through knowledge, he realizes that books will not
satisfy his curiosity and that maybe sensual pleasures will.
Therefore, in the process of creating his new life, Faust,
becomes distant and unconcerned with all reality and humanity
Do not fancy anything right, do not fancy that I could teach or assert what would better
mankind or what might convert. I also have neither money nor treasures, nor worldly honors
or earthly pleasures; no dog would want to live this way!(p. 95)
Obviously, Faust has fallen into a inhumane state of living,
through the pursuit of the unattainable. He becomes greedy,
desperate and feels justified in whatever it takes to achieve a
position of the over man. At that time, Christians and society
in general considered his pursuit for lust immoral, unjust and
irresponsible. When Faust sets his sights on an object, whether
knowledge or women, he demands nothing less of himself than that
which will get it. In many situations dedication to an act is
reputable; education, sports, career. It seems then, that to
become the übermensch and pursue excellence, one must stay
dedicated to one\'s goal and dismiss the world around him.
In the process of creating his monster, Victor Frankenstein
ignores the outside world;
The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit. It
was a most beautiful season; never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest, or the
vines yield a more luxuriant vintage: but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature.
And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused also to forget
those friends who were so many miles absent...(p.53)
Frankenstein becomes so wrapped up in his curiosity of
creation, that he utterly ignores the outside world. Therefore,
Faust and Frankenstein\'s desire to create, lead them to withdraw
themselves from society. Faust desires to create love and
possess a woman, so that he can feel all that the world has to
offer. Frankenstein, desires to create life and become a
motherly figure which supersedes any other emotion or need.
Although, the characters have different desires their actions and
thoughts are closely identical. Even after the successfulness of
creating what they anted for themselves, Faust and Frankenstein
This unhappiness causes Faust and Frankenstein to commit
acts far more evil than ever before. In this unhappiness,
Faust\'s emotions become irrational and immoral towards Gretchen
and Frankenstein ignores his "beautiful" creation. ??FAUST?
When Victor\'s creation transforms itself from idea to
reality, Frankenstein immediately looses control over it and
...but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror
and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed
out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to
compose my mind to sleep.(p.56)
This example communicates not only the lack of maturity
which Frankenstein contains but also the thoughtlessness that he
has toward his creation. Frankenstein reveals, through his
running, fainting and the coma that he had not thought of the
ramifications and responsibilities that his creation entailed.
Before they created,
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Frankenstein, Faust, Part One, Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Frankenstein in popular culture
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