One theme discussed by Shelley in the novel is birth and creation. She does this through the main character, Victor Frankenstein, who succeeds in creating a ‘human’ life form. In doing this, Frankenstein has taken over the roles of women and God. Shelley discusses how Frankenstein has used his laboratory or ‘workshop of filthy creation’ (page 53) as a kind of ‘womb’ as he has worked on his creation. He also refers to his task as his labour, suggesting that he has literally given birth to his creation.
After so much time spent in painful labour
The passing of time from when Victor first began his creation and finished it is also significant.
Winter, spring, and summer passed away during my labours
The length of the three seasons is nine months, representing the time a natural human baby takes to be formed in its mother’s womb. This once again suggests that Frankenstein has found a way to take over the role of women, and they become powerless, weak and flimsy. They no longer have a purpose in life, as Victor Frankenstein can now create new life forms – a process which women needed to be involved in previously. An example of women’s powerlessness in the novel is the condemnation of Justine for a crime she did not commit. Had she been a man, she would probably have been set free. Frankenstein succeeds in removing the only powers that women had, as well as stripping God from his role.
Through the theme of birth and creation, Shelley criticises Victor not only for creating the new being, but also for abandoning it when it comes to life. Victor first wishes to create the being because he thinks:
The theme of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein is when you play God it will always come back to plague you. Frankenstein is a creature created from dead flesh sewn together like a jigsaw puzzle of human parts. Victor Frankenstein is the mastermind behind the creation and becomes haunted with the unthinkable of what nature can produce. Nature proved to be more powerful than man. Playing God left Victor ...
A new species would bless me as its creator and source … No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs.
He seems to want to create a being which would be his child, as a child loves its parents unconditionally. He likes the idea of this until he realises how ugly his creation is.
but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.
After Victor realises this, he abandons the monster and becomes ill, leaving it to fend for itself. He does not accept the monster, and therefore does not love, teach or nurture it. Shelley’s main criticism is this lack of responsibility that Victor has for his ‘child’. This shows that Shelley had high morals on parents caring for their offspring.