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Faust and frankenstein

Jeremy Burlingame

10-23-1996

Essay #2

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

around him.

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

remain unhappy.

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

himself.

...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, Faust and Frankenstein thought that the

mere creation and use of a magic-like powers would imediately

bring joy to their lives. However, when their magical creations

became reality and brought them more pain they removed themselves

from the situation. It can be seen then that using these magical

powers in order to gain material objects is destructive

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