Victor Frankenstein’s emotional turmoil is clearly evident in chapters 9 and 10. Explore the basis for this turmoil and Mary Shelley’s portrayal of Victor’s state of mind. In this Essay I shall explore the reasons for Victor Frankenstein’s emotional turmoil in chapters 9 and 10 and look at how some events in Mary Shelley’s life mirrors some events in the book. I will also look at a few of the themes running through Frankenstein. Such as religion, parenting, hate, revenge, guilt and compassion.
At the time that Frankenstein was published most people still believed the genesis story of how humans were created and that we were made in the image of God, Frankenstein was highly controversial because someone was taking pieces of death and bringing it to life. Shelley was playing with the nature versus nurture theory when she showed her creature to be the victim, because the creature was not born naturally people would’ve believed that this made him evil by default. By showing the creature’s point of view she shows how the world and the cruelty of mankind changes into what he is, not that he was born to evil.
When Victor created the creature he took on the role of God. The creature picks up on this theme, he says “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. ” This idea of the creature being Frankenstein’s Adam is taken from Milton’s Paradise Lost, an epic poem that was one of Mary Shelley’s favourites. In the creation scene, Frankenstein constantly dehumanises his creation by calling him “the creature”, “it” and “this catastrophe”. The creature was never named throughout the book; this mirrors the first child of Mary Shelley who died shortly after its birth and was never named.
Because Victor created the creature he should have been a parent to it but instead he rejects his creation by running away as the creature comes to life and he runs away again when the creature tries to establish contact by reaching out to him. He has rejected his child. After the murder of his little brother William, Victor knows that the creature is responsible, and he realises that the monster is his making, so he sets out to kill it. He is replacing the guilt, of being a failure as a parent and causing his brother’s death, by creating his murderer, with anger against himself.
He is also feeling self pity, his father has to remind him that he too is grieving in chapter 10 when he says “No-one could love a child more than I loved your brother” What his father does not realise is Victor is not only grieving but is also feeling guilty. This is shown in chapter 10 when Victor is overshadowed by his thoughts and the mountains overshadowed him, he says, “They congregated round meThey all gathered round me and bade me peace. ” In chapters 9 and 10 Mary Shelley portrays Victor’s mood as dark he feels guilt that he is alive and Justine has been held responsible for his crime and has been executed.
Although he is still alive feels dead, like his creation “The blood flowed freely in my veins, but a weight of despair and remorse pressed on my heart” Victor is saddened that his life as a scientist started with good intentions he was keen to help people but this ambition went astray. He recognises that his health is deteriorating and is not sleeping this is a reflection of the creation scene where he deprived himself of sleep and his health suffered, the scenes differ because then he was giving life in the first scene and now wants to take it away.
Victor is in a deep depression, this is indicated when he says, “Thus not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of earth, nor of heaven, could redeem my soul from woe” The environment around him reflects Victor’s emotions, when he enters the mountains his mood lightens at the magnificence of the mountains and the knowledge that God could have only created these “-and I ceased to fear, or to bend before any being less then almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements, here displayed in their most terrific guise.
This comforts Victor because he realises that there is a being greater than him or his monster. As Victor journeys he sees familiar things, this cheers him “A tingling long-lost sense of pleasure often came across me during this journeyreminded me of days gone by, and were associated with the light-hearted gaiety of boyhood. ” Here Victor is remembering his happy childhood and he feels guilty because he deserted the creature at the beginning of its life. Victor still feels that the creature must be destroyed when he comes across it again, but the creature speaks to him and asks Frankenstein to hear his story.
The guilt that Frankenstein feels for bringing the creature to life presses strongly upon him. He agrees to listen to the creature. The theme of parenting features strongly in this conversation. The creature is like a child that has gone astray. Victor the parent abandoned him and made him the outsider he now is. The benevolence and kindness that was originally part of the creature’s character is gone because there was no one to nurture it. Mary Shelley makes us feel sympathy for the creature as he asks his creator for compassion.
In conclusion I think Victor feels guilt for failing as a parent, his lack of kindness toward the creature has resulted in turning it into a monster and he recognises this. By playing God and creating life in the first place caused Victor Frankenstein’s character to change, he ignored his fiance and was able to use human parts in a way, which most normal people couldn’t bear to. Later the deaths of William and Justine, which were a direct result of Victor’s actions, caused further guilt despair sorrow and self-loathing. He feels isolated, as he knows the whole tragedy is of his making.
Mary Shelley never managed to fit into her natural place in society and she didn’t succeed in being a famous radical like her parents were. Like the monster she had no feeling of belonging and her upbringing was sad due to her mothers’ death as a result of Mary Shelley’s birth, her father blamed her for this. She had an unhappy childhood under her stepmother and was not shown any kindness or love, just like the creature. Victor’s failure to use his medical skills to help mankind is a reflection of Mary Shelley’s unfulfilled ambition to become a mother at the time she wrote the book.