Failure to Endure Defeat According to Aristotle, there are a plethora of traits a tragic hero must possess. This criteria consists of Hamartia, which is a tragic flaw, which leads to the protagonists downfall. A reversal of fortune, Peripeteia, brought about by the hero’s tragic flaw will then occur. Aristotle also explains that the protagonist’s actions result in an increase of self- awareness and self- knowledge. Towards the conclusion the tragic hero must call forth pity. Northrop Frye explains that great trees are more likely to be struck by grass than a clump of grass.
In Mary Shelleys novel, Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein takes it upon himself to create a monster, and doesn’t take into account the damage it could conceive. Victor Frankenstein fits Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero because he failed to consider the effect of his actions, struggles to stop the monster once it becomes violent, and allows his pride to get the best of him, which then leads to the death of those close to him. As Victor Frankenstein was creating the monster, he failed to consider the consequence of his actions, which later leads into he death and suffering of those around him. One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention was the structure of the human frame, and indeed, any animal that endued life. Whence I often ask myself, did the principle of life proceed? ” (48). Here Frankenstein displays his excessive pride, hubris, which will then lead to his downfall. He never takes into account what could go wrong with this experiment, he fails to think once of the consequences. “Life and death appeared to me ideal bonds, which I should first break through, and pour torrent of life into this ark world” (51).
Frankenstein feels that he is bringing good into the world; there is absolutely no doubt in his mind that by creating this monster he is causing any trouble. Little does he know that the monster will soon bring the complete opposite to the world and cause suffering to many. The monster went on to kill many of Frankenstein’s family and friends, his excessive pride that made him think he was going to bring good to this world, is what ultimately lead to his downfall. Once the monster became violent, Frankenstein not once took responsibility for creating him.
During this whole wretched mockery of Justice I suffered living torture” (87). Justine was Frankenstein’s made who was blamed for the killing of William. Frankenstein knows that Justine is in fact innocent of the crime, however he is too afraid of the consequences, so he takes no action. Poor Justine was locked up in Jail for a crime she did not even commit, because Victor Frankenstein feared the results if the existence of the created monster was unleashed. “Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as torn by remorse, horror, and despair, I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon he graves of William and Justine” (97).
Here Victor Frankenstein undoubtedly feels some shame for creating the monster, this is the first time we start to see him feel regret for his actions. However, do not hold your breath, he does not take any action in order to stop the monster from hurting those around him. “Everywhere I turn I see the same fgure-her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on its Frankenstein didn’t make him a companion that he would be with him on his wedding night. Here, in this quote he finally decides to withdraw from creating the emale monster because he thinks it will only cause more trouble to have another monster in the world.
Once again he is imprecise with his intention, not creating the female monster created more pain and suffering, thus adding to the tragedy. Frankenstein allows his excessive pride or hubris to take him over when his creation begins to affect those around him. His pride turns out to be the tragic flaw that in fact sets the stage for this tragedy. “l thought with a sensation of madness on my promise of creating another like him, and, trembling with passion, tore to pieces the hing on which I was engaged” (205).
Victor Frankenstein decides that creating the female monster will Just cause more trouble. He goes forward and feels that the creator should not turn into the monsters slave. Once again Frankenstein allowed his pride to get in the way of his work. Nonetheless he destroys the almost completed creation, this enrages the monster beyond belief. “Soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from your happiness forever” (207). Frankenstein knows the monster is going to do something to bring him pain and suffering, especially after the onster tells him that he will be with him on his wedding night.
The monster later goes on to kill Frankenstein’s closest friend Henry. He feels great guilt, because for the first time Frankenstein feels that he could have actually prevented all of this madness in the first place. At last, when Frankenstein throws aside his pride and admits to all the evil he has designed through his creation. However, it is far to late, far too late. Tragic heroes are seen all over the place in modern literature now, for example Jay Gatsby in the novel The Great Gatsby. Just like Frankenstein, Gatsby had reams and ideals that made him a hero.
However, also like Frankenstein, Gatsbys tragic flaw is that his dream is corrupted and a false dream. In both of these cases it was there hubris that leads to their downfall. The novel Frankenstein is not as much about the conflict between creator and monster but more about taking responsibilities for your actions. It’s the most reoccurring theme in the novel. If Victor Frankenstein had realized his mistake and had not allowed his pride to stand in the way of him fixing it there no question would be less pain and suffering. It took
Frankenstein nearly the whole novel to realize what his actions have done, and by that time it was Just to late to resolve anything. Northrop Frye clearly states, “Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning. ” Frankenstein is merely a tragic hero for the fact that he couldn’t accept his actions. By the time he realized what he had done, it was to late the worst of the damage has been done. Frankenstein’s guilt and shame for his actions raises the tragedy of the novel and results in the creation of a tragic hero as well as a tragic novel.