& Manf Essay, Research Paper
The works Alastor, Frankstein, and Manfred have several concerns or issues in common. Since all three of these authors were in close contact with one another, and Byron s, ghost-story sessions are said to have provided the initial impetus for Mary Shelly s Frankenstein, then it would not be inconceivable for these works to discuss common issues. The main issue that is discussed in all three works is mans desire to poses nature and the consequences incurred as a result of this desire. All three works illustrate how man s quest for a deeper knowledge of nature transformed into a destructive force in their lives.
In Percy Shelly s Alastor the main character is described as being in complete awe of the universe, much like the main characters in Frankenstein and Manfred. The entire poem appears to be a worship of nature. The first few lines of the poem read, Earth, Ocean, Air, beloved brotherhood! If our great Mother has imbued my soul, With aught of natural pretty to feel, Your love, and recompense the loon with mine. The poet seems to feel connected to nature and was to learn more about it. However, he seemed to be unable to satisfy his thirst and as long as there was more knowledge of nature for him to acquire he was able to remain joyous and tranquil. And my heart ever gazes on the depth, of thy deep mysteries. After a while this quest could no longer satisfy him and, his mind is suddenly fill the desire to poses nature, it longs for a connection with someone or something that is on the same level that he thinks that he is on the same level of intelligence. The vision in which he embodies his own imagination unites all of the wonderful or wise or beautiful, which the poet, the philosopher, or the lover could depicture. The intellectual faculties, the imagination, the functions of sense have their respective requisitions on the sympathy of corresponding powers in the human beings. The poet attempts, without success, to combine these requirements thus he is disappointed and meets an untimely death. Much like the main character in the novel Frankenstein as well as in Manfred the poet is consumed by his attempts to manipulate nature and thus meets his demise.
Not only is this on going obsession with the manipulation of nature evident in Alastor but it can also be seen in Mary Shelly s Frankenstein as well. After the death of the main characters mother, he is left with a void of the soul so deeply intense that he looks to nature to fill it (Frankenstein 24). In order to do this Victor realizes that he must discover what is necessary to sustain life, so he creates Frankenstein and in doing so attempts to transcend into the feminine arena of childbirth. Victor transgresses the Natural order in moving into the feminine sphere in a physical capacity. He creates around him a ‘work-shop of filthy creation (Frankenstein 50); this is the male womb of creation. This process is describe to the reader in the language of pregnancy, After so much time spent in painful labour, to arrive at once at the summit of my desires, was the most gratifying consummation of my toils. But this discovery was so great and so overwhelming, that all the steps by which I had been progressively led to it were obliterated, and I beheld only the result (Frankenstein 47). Thus, Victor, the main character, set out to defy nature and discover the secret of life in hopes that eventually he would be able to renew life within his mother. Although Victor ultimately succeeds in his quest to create life, the consequences that result cause him to regret his accomplishment. Once again the main character, in his attempt to alter or tamper with nature illustrates man s constant attempt to reach beyond him means. Victor seeks the ability to understand and control nature and is shown in a dream that it is impossible for him to do so. Victor explains, I thought I saw Elizabeth in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of flannel (Frankenstein 35). Victor realizes that he can not control nature because he is incapable of fully understanding all of it s aspects, and by attempting to posses nature he is exhibiting a lack of respect for God s power of creation. Unfortunately Victor comes to this realization to late because he has already created a monster. Therefore Shelly as well as the authors of the other two works, have successfully illustrated for the reader that humans reaching beyond their intended arena of knowledge can only have negative consequences.
Lastly, but importantly, the same message about the importance of respecting nature is being delivered. Byron illustrates for the reader the same idea that humans constantly attempt to overreach their natural boundaries and in doing so create more problems for themselves. Byron s Manfred demonstrates his lack of respect for nature and God in various ways throughout the poem. One instance in which he demonstrated this is through his desire to end his own life. Manfred calls upon seven sprits and demands that they aid him achieving his death. Manfred states, Will death bestow it on me? (Line148). In a sense he is rejecting the life that God has so graciously bestowed upon him and is in effect blasphemous. Not only is Manfred rejecting the life that God has gifted him with but he is also, much like the other characters discussed in the previous works, attempting to manipulate forces of nature to do his will. However because of the curse he is unable to receive the oblivion he seeks. Furthermore, Manfred continues to attempt to posses nature when he calls Astarte back form the dead. In order to do this Manfred calls upon powers of a witch. Manfred asserts, To do this thy power must wake the dead, (line 245). Manfred longs to be with his sister Astarte and to accomplish this Manfred would do almost anything as long as it was on his terms. Therefore, when the witch asked for his subservience to her will as the price for her assistance, Manfred refused and thus remained unhappy. Eventually, Manfred, like the other main characters previously discussed, realizes that he cannot control nature because he simply cannot acquire enough knowledge to effectively control it. First Destiny asserts, And they have only taught him what we know That knowledge is not happiness and science But an exchange of ignorance for that which is another kind of ignorance. Manfred has therefore been confronted with the fact that man does not have the capacity to poses nature.
All of these literary works commonly discuss the issue of man ability to understand and poses nature. However, the general verdict seems to be that man should not try to poses what they cannot understand. Nature was proven to be a complex entity that can t be poses by man and in true to do so the main character were exhibiting a lack of respect for nature as well as God.