Romantic Reimaginings: Victor Victorious? Frankenstein’s Creation as Failed Romantic Revolution

By Eleanor Bryan

Romantic Reimaginings is a BARS blog series which seeks to explore the ways in which texts of the Romantic era continue to resonate. The blog is curated by Eleanor Bryan. If you would like to publish an article in the series, please email

Today on the blog, Garrett Jeter discusses Frankenstein’s monster as a metaphor for a failed Romantic revolution.

When Victor Frankenstein gazes at his Creature in admiration, then horror, in reality he contemplates a failed revolution. More, he witnesses the failure of a Romantic project. What had fuelled a passion, a glowing vision for radical improvement in human existence, ended in wrecked hopes: “I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but … the beauty of the dream vanished” (43). Victor had employed science to advance a revolution in the human condition, dethroning the tyrannical rule of Nature, and realising a utopia of human happiness. As Peter Vernon notes, he speaks of his experiments “in visionary terms” (278). Fred Randel asserts that Frankenstein (1818) is Shelley’s “astute extension and complication” involving revolution and revolutionary ideas (466). In his estimation, Nature’s imposition of mortality on humanity constitutes oppression. Victor’s creative process and quest set two ideals of …read more