Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, is a book riddled with other literary works throughout.  Shelley uses these intertextual references to add to her story and emphasize certain events and themes in the book.  One of the pieces that Shelley includes which is significant to the book is John Milton’s Paradise LostParadise Lost appears multiple times throughout Frankenstein in the epigraph at the very beginning, in the creature’s education, and in the creature’s misery of being completely alone in the world.  By including Paradise Lost, Shelley introduces another story of creation that readers can compare and contrast the creation that Victor gives life to.  In doing this, Shelley complicates and expands the interpretation and significance of her own novel.

            The most important time Paradise Lost is included is on the title page when there is an epigraph from it on the title page.  It reads, “Did I request the, Maker, from my clay to mould me man? Did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me”?  This quote starts the story off in a very dramatic way bringing in the idea of creation and creator before the first chapter starts.  Throughout the whole book there seems to be a question of whether Victor had the right to give life to another creature with emotions and acts like another human.  Victor completely consumed himself in trying to create life but once he finally succeeded, he looked at what he had done and found it evil and wretched.  I interpret this as a possible punishment for thinking that he could take on the role of creator of another being.  In addition, the creature was completely left abandoned in a world unknown to him and in an existence that the creature never asked to be a part of.  In Paradise Lost, Adam was the creation of God and Adam was made in God’s image making him a perfect creature.  Victor’s creation did not have the fortunate benefit of being beautiful and malevolent that Adam did.  Unlike Adam, the creature was made by Victor, a scientist, who combined various body parts from dead persons and used science to reanimate them.  Everywhere the creature went he was beaten and treated like a monster because of his ugly physical appearance.  These things occurred despite the fact that early on in the creature’s life, it did good things like collect wood for the family in the woods and save a young girl who was drowning. 

            After maturing and learning how to express himself through speech, the creature seeks vengeance on Victor for giving him his wretched existence and then abandoning him.  The Epigraph directly relates to the dialogue that Victor and the creature have on top of the mountain after the creature killed Victor’s brother, William.  On top of the mountain the creature talks to Victor with respect but also with an edge of anger and entitlement.  The creature admits that he is Victor’s creation but expects Victor to supply him with a mate so the creature is not so terribly lonely.  Like the epigraph illustrates between God and Adam, the creature is the result of Victor’s creation and the creature was not a part of its own creation in any way.  Victor even admits to being moved by the creature’s story and his request to have some kind of happiness through having a mate similar to himself.  There is even a direct similarity to the creature’s request of Victor for a mate to Adam’s supplication in Paradise Lost when Adam directly asks God for a companion.  The only difference in these two events is that Adam gets his wish in Eve and Victor decides not to comply with the creature’s wish.  The creature is only left lonely and ostracized even though he feels human emotions. He is treated like a monstrosity, even after he tried to reason with his own creator.  Victor obviously differs with God, who is the creator of everything in Paradise Lost.  Victor focused so fully on giving the creature life that he completely ignored any repercussions that may occur after his creation lives.  Victor abandoned the creature and refuse to take any responsibility for what he did by leaving the creature on its own and hoping that his problem would fix itself.  God was an all powerful being in Paradise Lost and Victor is a mere human with human limitations.  The creature pays the price of Victor’s neglect through no fault of his own which is well illustrated in the epigraph.

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