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Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein is the true monster, not the creature himself. Victor Frankenstein grew up in Geneva. He had a strong interest in reading the works of the ancient and outdated alchemists, and was fascinated by science and the “secret of life. ” One day he decided that he wanted to study further, so Victor actually created a person of his own out of old body parts and strange chemicals. When the creature came to life, he was a hideously ugly beast.

The creature does have beauteous features such as “lustrous black hair,” and “teeth of pearly whiteness,” but they do not look good because they are out of place in relation to his other features, such as his “shriveled complexion,” and “watery eyes. ” His beautiful features are wasted because they are set next to such ugliness (Halberstam 60). He was also a huge eight foot tall mall with the mind of a newborn child. Perhaps the creature could have turned out to be a normal decent human being if he had not been abandoned by his creator directly after his onset of life.

But instead, he was left to fend for himself and learn everything on his own, merely by observing others and learning from their mistakes. Due to neglect and abandonment during his early stages of his life, the creature developed an aggressive attitude and began to take on many grotesque characteristics. The term “monster” is a key term that is used in this story. Throughout the entire novel, the creature was named and classified as a monster. However, it was actually Frankenstein who caused him to act out in monstrous ways.

The word monster is used to describe a person who “deviates from the normal or acceptable behavior or character; a threatening force; or a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness or cruelty” (Webster’s 769). In this case, the only definition that can solely apply to the creature and not to Victor as well, is the one that associates with physical appearance. It is physical behavior that defines a monster, rather than physical appearance. Throughout the story, the creature did kill and endanger many lives; however, his actions were only a reaction to the cruel behavior that Frankenstein portrayed to him.

Frankenstein sees the creation as if he were the devil when the creature tries to make an effort to embrace him (Mellor Mary Shelley 357). When he sees Victor for the first time, he “had feelings of affection, [but] they were requited by detestation and scorn” (Shelley). The fact that Frankenstein fled from his creation very shortly after it came to life, proves how he refused to accept his obligations and responsibilities after his creature was created. “The [creature] is Frankenstein’s abandoned child” (Mellor Abandonment 357).

It is unfair to bring something into the world, and then not teach it how to survive. Victor was intimidated by his hideous characteristics and felt threatened by the creature. He did not know his creation at all, so he had no right to judge him. This is an example of how various people and society place too much judgment on physical appearance. The creature had just come into the world for the first time, and the first thing he saw was his creator screaming for his life as a result of his appearance. This traumatized the creation, and caused him to seek revenge on Frankenstein.

This novel shows how when people are prejudice against physical deformity or ugliness, it automatically characterizes that person as bad or monstrous (Halberstam 59). Victor was the one who gave him these characteristics; so in fact, he is to blame for the creature’s appearance being so monstrous. Frankenstein and various other characters plagued the monster with the feeling of self-consciousness. This feeling never goes away and the creature acts out in rage as a result of this horrible feeling (Mellor Abandonment 77).

Along with the feelings of self-consciousness, the creature also felt a great deal of loneliness, misery, and otherness (Halberstam 59). Hateful day when I received life! Accursed the creator. Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust (Shelley 115). The creature was truly miserable and hated the fact that he was even alive. All he wanted was someone to accept him and like him for who he was. Victor was once again acting in a monstrous manner when he refused to make a friend for the creature.

The fact that the creature was always shut out from society and abandoned by anyone he ever came in contact with shows that perhaps if he had a companion, he would not have been acting out in so many rages, which results in no longer having to seek revenge. There would be no revenge to seek because he would be happy and satisfied with his life. Perhaps Victor had not realized that “the power to create may produce consequences that cannot be foreseen or controlled” (Smolensky 1756).

Before Frankenstein created his creature, he had not intended it to be a threat to his friends and family. He had also not realized that evil creates evil (Mellor Mary Shelley 363). In this novel, Victor did not only act in monstrous way toward his creature, but toward his loved ones as well. When he learned that his youngest brother William had been murdered, he knew right away that the murder was committed by his very own creation, but refused to speak up and say anything about his knowledge.

He knew that he would be held responsible for the murder because of the fact that he created the monster, and also because the monster killed his brother out of revenge that he was seeking on him for the abandonment. A young girl, who was an innocent and kind adopted member of the Frankenstein family, named Justine, was accused of the murder, and executed for an act that Victor Frankenstein was responsible for. Victor can be held accountable for the death of his good friend Henry Clerval as well. He too was killed by the creature in an act of revenge.

The murder occurred soon after Frankenstein destroyed the remains of the new creature that he was planning on making for his original creation. The death of Victor’s wife, Elizabeth, is Victor’s fault also. The creature told Frankenstein that he would be with him on his wedding night and even with this knowledge, Frankenstein still did not make it a point to tell his finance that the two of them were in danger. Conceivably, if Elizabeth had known about the threat before the night of the wedding, she could have prepared herself to deal with the situation, if it arose, ahead of time.

This could have possibly saved her life. “Victor neither confesses his duplicity in the murder nor warns Elizabeth of her imminent danger” (Lowe-Evans 69). When Frankenstein returned home, his father had died of grief shortly after because of all of the deaths of his other loved ones. Because of the fact that all of the other deaths in his family were his Frankenstein’s fault, and his father died of grief, Frankenstein’s father’s death is his fault as well. The fact that the creation killed many people during the story is justified.

If he had been properly raised by a parental figure, rather than observations of another family, then perhaps he would understand what morals, the difference between right and wrong, and proper behavior are. The creature lacks a conscience because of his neglect and abandonment. Throughout the novel, the creature did all that he could to try and get what he wanted and had to use extreme means to achieve his goals because he was never taught how to properly act. This all, once again, results back to Victor’s fault for not taking responsibilities for his actions in building the creature in the first place.

The novel Frankenstein has a sub-title that is included as well, called The Modern Prometheus. The Greek god Prometheus gave the knowledge of fire to humanity and was then severely punished for it. In this myth, Prometheus committed a monstrous act because he was not supposed to give humans the knowledge of fire. The fact that the sub-title of the novel relates directly to Victor Frankenstein himself, proves that he was in fact the character with the monstrous characteristics and personality, and the creature himself was not (Joseph 44).

It is obvious that the creature can think clearly and efficiently. There is proof that he makes logical sense throughout the novel, especially when he vows to make Frankenstein’s life miserable. The creature is one of the most rational characters in the entire novel. Even after he was abandoned by his creator, he did not give up hope. He knew that in order to survive in the world he would have to teach himself because there was no one else to teach him. If he came in contact with other human beings, they would run away in fear.

When the monster went into town [the monster] had hardly placed [his] foot within the door children shrieked and women fainted (Shelley 101). The creature finally sought refuge in an abandoned shack. His shelter adjoined the cottage of an exiled French family, named the De Lacey’s. By observing them, the monster acquired language, as well as a wide-ranging knowledge of the ways of humanity. The monster speaks with great articulacy as a result of his limited education. He stayed close to this family for a long time and grew attached to them, even though they never came in contact.

While he was observing the family, all he could see in them was “benevolence, affection, industry, thrift, and natural justice in their actions. Those traits that he was observing made him desire to be good (Mellor Abandonment 74). The monster feels as if the DeLacey family is unlike his creator and possesses the qualities that he strives to have. It is not until he meets the family in person that he realizes that they are just like the others because of their reaction towards him. The creature was only a cruel person when others forced him to be. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend” (Shelley 95).

Although most people assume that in Frankenstein, the creature was the murderer, the truth is the exact opposite. Victor was the real murderer. He is the murderer when the novel is viewed on three different symbolic levels, as a Romantic novel, Archetype novel, or a Gothic novel. On the romantic level, Victor is the monster because he abandoned the creature and left him to fend for himself. The creature was miserable and simply wanted a companion, but because of the poor behavior and attitude of Frankenstein, it was impossible.

On the Archetype level, Victor is the monster because he tried to play the role of God. He wanted to be worshipped like a god, by creating his own species, and creating life from plain matter. Although in doing so, Victor disturbed the natural order of things. Finally, Victor is the monster on the Gothic level. He and the creature are part of a greater being, and Victor’s subconscious wants William and Elizabeth dead, which is why the monster actually killed them. Despite the fact that Victor did not physically murder anyone, he was the “monster” of the novel (Ellis 155).

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