Important Quotes from Frankenstein: Analysis

Instructor: Benjamin Truitt

I have worked in higher education since 2008 when I began teaching in remedial ed and teach classes in Humanities, Philosophy, and Sociology. I have a Bachelors Degree from the University of Colorado at Denver in Philosophy with a minor in Theater and a Masters Degree in Humanities.

Frankenstein is a commentary on the scientific endeavor that is driven by the dogma of the Enlightenment to know the world. Shelley's work also touches more personally, reminding us that we have only the illusion of control, and our ideas oftentimes do not correspond to our reality.

Frankenstein: Important Quotes from Frankenstein: Analysis

'It's aliiiiive!' cries the wild-eyed Victor Frankenstein as he stands triumphantly over his grotesque creation whose hideous features are shielded only by a white sheet. Lightning flashes and thunder rumbles as the mad scientist reanimates his soulless child on the rickety platform elevated to the heavens in defiance of the God that Victor brazenly confronts.

This line from Frankenstein is so well known that it is part of our culture and is a reference just as iconic as Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty as they tumble over the cliff, or Mel Gibson's bellowing of 'Freedom!' in Braveheart. However, the famous 'It's aliiiive' is not in Mary Shelley's Gothic novel. It actually originates in the 1931 movie, but that does not mean that Frankenstein has no memorable quotes. As we will see, Frankenstein has many profound passages that reflect on science and the limits of humanity.

Quotes on Science

Victor Frankenstein Making His Creature
Frankenstein in his Laboratory

Mary Shelley's build up to the creation of the creature in Frankenstein captures a fevered and obsessive process of science very different from the dry texts of Francis Bacon or the reflective process of Isaac Newton. Rather, Victor Frankenstein's drive anthropomorphizes (or makes human) the motivation of science to explore the boundaries of our world. In Chapter 4, Victor Frankenstein's obsessive drive is captured in this passage:

No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. (Chapter 4)

This quote illustrates more than a scientific curiosity about out the world works; but rather a moral worldview where science is the source of light, and the natural boundaries of the world are darkness that must be overcome. This arrogance of Victor Frankenstein speaks to a deeper arrogance that Shelley critiques as a Romantic: namely that the Enlightenment lacks regard for anything but scientific progress and domination of nature.

Quotes on Human Endeavors

Shelley's novel frequently contrasts the ideals of humanity against the disappointment of reality, and two passages in particular illustrate this difference. The first is the reaction of Victor upon his completion of his creature. In Chapter 5, Frankenstein is confronted by the horror that he has made:

I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. (Chapter 5)

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