This can be seen when Victor Frankincense’s monster almost killed his entire family, hen Frankincense felt guilty about creating the monster, and how this sinful desire resulted in using knowledge as a destructive force. At the beginning of the story, Victor Frankincense told how he grew up in the perfect family in Geneva: everyone loved each other, he loved to learn, he had a best friend, Henry Cleaver, and a cousin, Elizabeth, who loved him, and his parents were rich. As he became older, he became interested in natural philosophy, also known as science.
He read books by alchemists and they inspired him to search for the elixir of life and to transmute normal metals into gold. When he became old enough, he decided to go to university in Inconstant to further study natural philosophy. While at university, he became obsessed with finding the elixir of life, and how to bring a dead body to life. He eventually found it, and over the course of a few years, he built an eight feet tall body out of other dead bodies. He was so obsessed by his work that he only partially realized that what he was doing was completely repulsive.
When he finished building the monster, he was so shocked and repulsed by what he had done, that the next day when his best friend arrived, he had a mental breakdown, and his friend had to nurse him back to health. After several months Frankincense recovered and developed hatred towards natural philosophy because of the monster he created. After a few months had passed, he received a letter from his father saying his brother, William had died, and Justine, the family servant was accused for the murder.
After he heard this, Frankincense headed back to Geneva, and on the way, in the dark, he saw the monster, and he thought, Could he be (l shuddered at the conception) the murderer of my brother? No sooner did that idea cross my imagination, than became convinced of its truth; my teeth chattered, and I was forced to lean against a tree for support. (Shelley 80) One can see here, that the consequences of Frankincense’s actions started to take effect: the monster started killing off Frankincense’s family. Frankincense acted like God, and now he started to experience the tragic consequences.
Shortly after this, Justine is executed, and later the monster killed Cleaver, and Elizabeth: saw the lifeless form of Henry’ Cleaver stretched before me. Gasped for breath; and throwing myself on the body, exclaimed, “Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of life?… She [Elizabeth] was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair. (Shelley 218-242) It is clear that this was another consequence of Frankincense trying to act like God. His best friend was killed, along with Elizabeth whom he married just a few days earlier.
Shortly after this his father died: “He Frankincense’s father] could not live under the horrors that were accumulated around him; an apoplectic fit was brought on, and in a few days he died in my arms” (Shelley 245). The monster, killed his father too, although not directly, but through all these events, because his father could not live with what had happened to his family; he died of grief. This all happened because Frankincense tried to play God. Another somber consequence was guilt. When the monster killed his family members, Frankincense always felt guilty, because he was the one who created the monster.
It feels like all these killings were a direct consequence of him trying to act like God. When he brought the monster to life, he had a mental breakdown because he felt so guilty about what he had created. He says, I was in reality very ill; and surely nothing but the unbounded and unremitting attentions of my friend could have restored me to life. The form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was forever before my eyes, and I raved incessantly concerning him. (Shelley 61) It can be clearly seen, that Frankincense felt guilty about what he had unleashed on the world.
He was haunted by guilt, and this was another result of trying to act like God. He was overcome by guilt so much, that it resulted in physical symptoms. As the story progressed, his symptoms became worse. When Cleaver dies, he said, The human frame could no longer support the agonizing suffering I endured, and I was carried out of the room in strong convulsions. A fever succeeded to this. Lay for two months on the point of death: my ravings, as afterwards heard, were frightful; I called myself the murderer of William, of Justine and of Cleaver.
Sometimes entreated my attendants to assist me in the destruction of the fiend by whom I was tormented; and at others I felt the fingers of the monster already grasping my neck, and screamed aloud with agony and terror. (Shelley 21 8) Frankincense felt very guilty here: he called himself the murderer of William, Justine and Cleaver. This is because he felt he had murdered them, because the monster was his own creation. He felt he cannot carry on in life because of remorse. This too was a result of trying to act like God.
Another consequence of trying to act like God was the pursuit of destructive knowledge. Frankincense tried to create life without thinking of the consequences Of pursuing this course Of action. He was so obsessed with his work that he did not even realize that it was completely repulsive and sinful: I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, might in the process of time (although I now find it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption. These thoughts supported my spirits, while I pursued my undertaking with unremitting ardor…
My lips now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic impulse, urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit. (Shelley 51-52) Frankincense is saying here that he cared about nothing else but finding the elixir of life and finding how to bring an inanimate body to life. He was so wrapped up in obtaining the elixir of life that he does not stop to think about the possible consequences. This pursuit of destructive knowledge was a consequence of trying to act like
God because he wanted to bring a dead body to life; he wants to create his own species: “A new species would bless me as their creator and source… ” (Shelley 51). He thought that he could act like God and create a species that would love him, however, he did not think about what would happen if something went wrong, so he kept on pursuing destructive knowledge. In this, one can see another result of trying to act like God. In conclusion, one can see that in Frankincense, through the words, actions and thoughts of characters, trying to act like God can have tragic uniqueness.