When I was first assigned Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I couldn’t think why that could be. Mind you, my teachers were and are exceptionally nice, but horror? The kind made up of nothing but virtually inaccessible laboratories covered in toxic fumes, containing nothing but the maddest and most unearthly fashion of men? Screams of “Aaaah!”, “It’s alive!”, and all the other cries of desperation that accompany insanity discovered too late? Heavens, no—why would I read anything of the sort?
But then…I actually read the book. It was still horrific, but not in the manner I was led to believe. The beginning of Frankenstein’s tale didn’t lie in a dark laboratory but in a happy, lovely, idyllic childhood. As I went through the story, I realized that the horror went deeper than a monster’s quest for blood. The primary cause of the horror, it seemed, lay at the state of Dr. Frankenstein’s soul. He had long dreamed of world recognition in his scientific field; when he decided to create the monster—which he thought wouldn’t be a monster at first—it was as if he had eaten Adam’s fruit. He wanted to be God, but when he played with and then finally acted upon the idea, death left its destructive footprints everywhere.
In short, Frankenstein‘s conviction and unexpected wealth of wisdom turned my perception of the novel from an empty, carelessly written thriller/spooker to one of my favorite novels (Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables are nearly tied with it). The following poem, then, seeks to delve further into the reason I place it so highly. What would the state of humanity be if God died, was never existent, or turned his face away from his creation forever? What if God was a capricious one, who was bored one day and decided to make something to prove how awesome he is, only to leave it for death when he finished? What if we suffered through that which Frankenstein’s monster had suffered? Though I altered a few details of the novel for creative license’s sake, let us ponder that dilemma for a moment as we walk through this piece together—and celebrate the mercy of God’s presence.
(Note: This is an absolutely spoiler-ridden poem, so if you haven’t yet read the novel, please read it before coming back to this post. Also, just to clarify, this piece is written from the monster’s point of view—and Frankenstein is the name of the doctor who created him.)
On the Death of Frankenstein
O what a triumph I have seen—
I’ve wanted it all along!
The paleness of death, the cries of ire—
Coming and passing, comforting my heart,
And granting it relief!
Long have I wanted this cruel man dead
When cruel fate had given him life!
Long have I watched, long have I prayed
For his dull, blind eyes in hell to burn!
And who can blame me?
He entered this world in all happiness,
In riches and in mirth,
From his first day of life there was not one—
No, not one to forsake him!
He had love, and it sustained him.
Even in the depths of his first grief,
When mother parted to paradise,
There lay a fondness, there lay a closeness
In the sister he promised to wed—
And in his grieving lay a joy.
He walked in blinding privilege
Of the sciences and knowledges’ fruits
Dear Victor had all of everything—
Dear me! he surely looked as God!
And so he tried to be one.
Tantalized by damned ambition,
Deadened to reason by the lust of Adam’s sin,
He forsook all his former goodly, cleanest happiness
To prove he was more than man.
He left all love for madness.
This man, it was he
Who labored, toiled, and raged,
Though he could not control death
Thought he could disenchant it
And at the selfsame time mock life.
I was nothing more than ash
The mere product of his brilliant factors,
For when he made me, lo! he could not bear me,
And my first sight no more than unworthy abandon.
All through my first days I knew not why I lived,
Yet when I walked, I tried to love.
But no! humanity could only whip me,
For the good in my heart and the face of my innocence
Looked unworthy in their eyes.
Did I wonder I was despised?
Then revelation came to me;
It pierced me and turned my life to mutinous wonder.
I had opened Milton, and he spoke my heart’s quiet thoughts.
See, the God of man is loving, kind,
Though man to Him is not.
Yet while they yet stood in unity,
They abandoned Him for lust.
When I realized my father’s Adamic crime,
Love stood in my heart no longer—
Only bitterness, vengeance, and horror.
Just as Adam gave up His creator for lust,
Frankenstein—yes, he gave up creation.
He did not show me love and mercy,
He did not serve the God of Whom he spoke!
He followed Satan. He deserved to die.
Thus I gave my life to murder,
Though I dared not kill my father yet.
I wanted vengeance, I wanted torture,
And by so wanting, I killed all those he loved.
Now he knew my pain.
Who can wonder at my cruel experiment?
Who can wonder at his fate?
When I killed Elizabeth, Henry, William, Justine,
Did I not get what I so long dreamed?
Yes! By heaven, I did,
And I laughed at this irony:
While Victor drove in wrath across the snow,
He vainly mimicked the God of love—
Who chases His creatures gently in mercy.
Now I lie at Victor’s death-bed.
The light has dimmed.
The drive of my heart has gone,
And now I feel a difference.
I, too, am shamed.
There is nothing left for me.
O, you lucky humanity!
You blessed, cherished, noblest race!
You realize not what Treasure you have
In the One Who placed His life at the stake!
He did it for you.
Yes—you have love and mercy, too—
No matter how far you run—
The God Who is love…
He lies there for you…
And he never turns His precious face
From your soiled, dust-ridden, miserable heart.
You are His children, and beloved.
But my life was not made by your good Father.
My own has left me.
I was made on some chance whim—
An idle, empty madman’s game.
What a fool was I to think—
That a monster made by man can have some illusion of life?
I am made of death.
If the one who made me abandons me, I have none else to do
But perish in the flame.
“Scoffing devil! Again do I vow vengeance; again do I devote thee, miserable fiend, to torture and death. Never will I omit my search, until he or I perish[.]” ~Victor Frankenstein
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” ~Ephesians 2:4-7, NASB
August 30, 2018