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Critic Northrop Frye once commented that "Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscapes" (Frye 1). Few characters illustrate this characteristic of a tragic hero better than that of Victors Frankenstein, the protagonist of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. His story is one of a brilliant man whose revolutionary ideas brought suffering to himself, his family and friends, and his creation. Victor is an instrument as well as a victim to this suffering throughout his story.
From the early chapters of the novel, Victor narrates a childhood, schooling, and career filled with an unstoppable thirst for learning. He pours over books in youth, and later attends university studying meticulously and eventually coming to a decision to attempt something never done before. In the words of Northrop Frye, tragic heroes are wrapped in the mystery of their communion with that something beyond which we can see only through them. Here lies the main point. We, as readers, can see the abyss where Victor is headed long before he gets there.