When people are born, and throughout their lives, they learn about good and bad, evilness and benevolence. Once learning about this they are able to decide who they are and who they want to be. Are they purely evil or purely good? Or both? In the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley uses the morally ambiguous character of the creature to convey how isolation and society’s expectations towards appearance can lead to the desire for revenge. Additionally, the creature demonstrates that when revenge consumes an individual it can lead to tragic consequences.
The creature was “born” a clean slate, when he first came to ife he was like a baby, neither good nor bad. This suggests that all humans, including Frankenstein, have a choice and that, just like the creature, humans can make good and bad decisions that don’t necessarily make them good or evil. For example, at the beginning of the novel Victor abandons the creature, leaving him an orphan and in a state of confusion. Deserted and disoriented, the creature left Victor Frankenstein’s apartment and found a hovel he could live in. The hovel belonged to cottagers, the De Lacy family.
By watching how these cottagers act and treat each other the creature learns many concepts, ome of which include how to talk and communicate and being benevolent and kind. The creature states,”I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers-their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions… I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of dependence and mortification. ” (80) This quote demonstrates how the creature perceived the cottagers and his understanding of beauty.
The creature understood that he was not like Agatha, Felix, the old man, or even Victor. He had internalized society’s standards of beauty and convinced himself that although he anted to be good, he was a monster and a demon, so he should act like one. Furthermore, the creature states, “Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition, for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me. ” (92) In this quote the creature compares himself to Satan and how he too covets what he does not have.
Moreover, just like Satan the creature’s exile and isolation from the rest of the world causes him to be bitter and revengeful. This demonstrates the creature’s evil side because he compares himself to Satan, the fallen angel and evil-doer, the reature wants to be good but his surroundings and people’s prejudice towards his appearance do not allow him to do so. Lonely and desiring love, community and a sense of belonging the creature imitates the cottagers and soon starts to feel guilty for taking their food and resources for himself.
One good action that demonstrates the creature’s benevolence is the kind acts he does for the cottagers, like bringing them wood to their doorstep or doing some of Felix’s chores. Furthermore, after being rejected by the De Lacy family the creature is on the run when he spots a young girl drowning in a river. Quick to think, the creature saves the girl. This demonstrates that the creature is benevolent because he did not hesitate to save the girl’s life. Despite, the creature’s good will and selfless motive he is repaid for his noble action with a bullet.
In the text the creature states, “This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered skin and bone. The feelings of kindness and gentleness.. gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. ” (101) This quote emonstrates the creature desire to be good and do the right thing in a place where he is seen and treated as a malevolent monster. Which causes the creature to become angry and enraged with the harsh actions and attitudes of humans.
Moreover, the creature can be seen as evil when he states, “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drive at from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded, I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. ” (68-69) In this quote the creature says he should be ike Adam, a creation made by the great and per hands of God, which demonstrates that the creature desired to be like the cottagers and do good.
However, like the fallen angel, the creature is ostracized and allows the evil and desire for retribution to overcome him and make him a fiend. In addition, Satan was once the ‘brightest star and best angel, but fell from considerable height to misery and sin just like the creature. The creature once had the potential to be purely good, but he also fell to corruption and crime. After Frankenstein’s death, Walton discovers the creature weeping beside Frankenstein. In the text the creature states, “Oh Frankenstein! Generous and self- devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me?
I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thou lovedst. Alas! He is cold, he cannot answer me. “(163) This quote demonstrates the creatures remorse and repentance for all the suffering he caused Frankenstein. He can be seen as a morally ambiguous character because after all the pain he caused, he now feels sorry and comprehends that what he did was wrong. Additionally, the creature can be seen as a good because of his lean and innocent beginning, desire to be benevolent, amity and generosity and remorse. However, the creature can also be seen as a villainous character.
After watching the cottagers the creature learns what makes someone a moral and admirable person. Therefore, the creature knows right from wrong, and good from bad. Knowingly, the creature allows his desire to cause pain and suffering to Frankenstein takeover and commits crimes and malice. For example, the creature kills innocent William, Victor’s brother, by strangling him with his bare hands and then frames Justine for the murder. The motive behind these horrid and ruthless acts were that the creature was overwhelmed with anger and revenge due to being rejected.
He states, “I gazed upon my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph; clapping my hands, I exclaimed, ‘I too can create desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable; this death will carry despair to him, and a thousand miseries shall torment and destroy him. “(102) In this quote the creature wants Victor to be as lonely and unloved as he is. Furthermore, the creature is depicted as a villain and someone who does malevolent and evil things. This is significant because the creature not only murders William, he is also responsible for the deaths of Justine, Hector, Elizabeth and Victor’s father.
Since it is not just one life the creature took out of vengeance this demonstrates the creature’s potential for evil and also depicts him as morally ambiguous character because the creature gives human beings multiple chances to accept him, however when they don’t he lashes out. Additionally, the creature causes havoc and leads himself into isolation by killing off the people Victor loved the most and also torturing the one person he ould possibly relate to, Victor. Furthermore, the creature kills Henry, Victor’s friend, and Elizabeth, Victor’s wife.
After killing Elizabeth the creature states, “I am satisfied: miserable wretch! You have determined to live, and I am satisfied. ” (150) The creature is overjoyed at having just killed off one of the last people Victor has left. Additionally, the murder of Henry and Elizabeth are actions of anger, retribution and evilness. These demonstrate the creature’s moral ambiguity because although he desires to be benevolent and good, he allows the evil inside im dominate and kills people who are close to Victor.
The creature’s moral ambiguity is significant because it demonstrates how the desire for revenge can consume one and lead to evil acts. The creature felt as if Victor had wronged him by making him look like a monster, menacing and fighting. Angered and lonely, the creature blamed Victor for creating him the way he did, abandoning him, and refusing to make him a companion. In order, to receive retribution the creature brings suffering to Victor by killing off those he loves the most.
This limitation of his evil is important because it demonstrates that he creature is not necessarily purely evil because he does not go after all of the human race; the creature specifically targets Victor’s loved ones, which in turn is hurting and causing pain to Victor. By allowing revenge to consume him the creature leads himself (and Victor) to isolation. In conclusion, Shelley portrays that abandonment and loneliness can cause an individual to be evil despite their desire to be good. This is demonstrated through the character of the creature, who goes after his creator, Frankenstein, and ultimately is left completely alone.