Doppelgänger in Frankenstein Essay

All along the novel, the theme of the double is recurrent. The Merriam-Webtser defines a doppelganger as a ghostly counterpart of a living person or the evil alter-ego of a person. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley used that very motif to describe and characterize her characters. Indeed, the Creature can be seen as the double of Victor. He represents the dark side of Victor. If Dr Frankenstein appears as a nice and totally human and normal man, Mary Shelley depicts him as the real monster of the story.

He is blasphemous, he commits transgressive acts only to follow his obsession and to prove that he is right, that giving life is not a power only devoted to God. On the contrary, the Monster has a monstrous look, but in reality, the author makes us sympathize with him. She makes of him a learned, well-educated creature, able to feel regrets and pity, which Victor misses. Victor can also be seen as the doppleganger of Henry Clerval.

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In one hand, Victor embodies the corrupted science, who goes too far and makes weird and dangerous experiments to make progress. Indeed, in the novel this very character tries to be as good as God. He attempts to create life, like God created Adam. However, Victor’s failure horrifies him to such an extent that he rejects his child/Creature. He learns different subjects, such as alchemy or even anatomy, and misuses his knowledge. On the other side, Henry Clerval is the perfect archetype of proper science.

Victor embodies bad health, dangerous and corrupted knowledge, cowardice, secrecy and death, as for Henry, he personifies sanity, vigor, healthy knowledge and life. We could also add that the female characters are the counterpart of the male. Females are always passive characters, they never take the initiative in something and they depend of men, whereas male are always undertaking projects. The female monster is the perfect illustration of that fact : she “waits” for Victor to create her, in the same way Elizabeth waits for Victor to come back and marry her.

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