In our present-day, we judge people before we meet them. We believe what we hear, truth or not, to be the actual characteristics of the person. People should be more open-minded and not judge people by what they hear because it may not be accurate. There are always two or more sides to a story. After meeting the person and forming our perception, we can decide whether to believe what we are told or how we feel about the individual. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the monster’s narrative plays a vital role in the story. It provides the reader with “the other side of the story”.
Before the monster’s narrative, we think of the monster as a mean and cruel individual. After the monster’s narrative, the reader feels sympathetic for the monster. Victor and the monster have a different ways of treating people; the monster approaches them with a mature attitude, while Victor’s attitude is immature. The narrative also gives the reader insight into the personality of Victor Frankenstein. The monster’s narrative makes the reader sympathetic to the way the monster lives. The narrative is the center of the novel because our perception drastically changes upon reading it. Unlike the monster’s narrative, Victor’s narrative leads us to believe that the monster is a horrifying creature.
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Victor’s narrative never tells us that the only thing the monster wants is for people to be like and respect him for what is inside. When the monster was first created, he was amazed by the senses he had. He was able to see the light and touch the objects around him. “[He] was delighted when [he] first discovered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted [his] ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from [his] eyes” (130). The monster then made his way to the village in search for food. He was amazed by the all the cottages and huts, and the all vegetables in the gardens. When he made his way to the store, he “hardly placed [a] foot within the door, before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted” (132).
The monster had freighted the whole village. Some people fled, while others attacked him with stones and weapons until he fled to the open country. Everyone the monster encountered was too freighted to stop and try to understand him. Against the monster’s wishes, he was forced to confine himself to complete solitude. We start to feel more sympathetic for the monster because we start to see the monster’s hardship. We feel that he does not deserve the solitude that he has been confined to. The monster’s narrative illustrates that the monster is a kind and passionate person who only wants friendship.
Another advantage of the monster’s narrative is to give the reader insight into the personality of Victor Frankenstein. It shows the hidden character of Victor, as the monster is an extension of Victor’s personality. Victor is the object of perfection, a handsome man with the perfect family. In contrast, the monster is the opposite; his appearance is frightful, and he lives in solitude. Victor would not stay to observe his creation because he was scared of what he would see. He was terrified because parts of the monster’s personality would remind him of himself since he was the creator. To fulfill his desire for solitude, Victor would leave without telling anyone when or where he was going. The monster has the solitude that Victor craves, yet he longs for a companion.
This relationship is ironic because neither character is happy with the life they have. Victor wants the monster’s life, with complete solitude and not having to deal with anybody. The monster would like what Victor has; people to love him and be his friend. Victor prefers the solitude he has when he is at great distances from his family. He would write to them only when he felt it was utterly necessary. Victor feels afraid and does not want anyone to love him, unlike the monster. The monster wants people to love him and respect him for who he is.
The monster’s mature attitude towards people is demonstrated in his relationship with De Lacey’s. After the monster was forced out of the village, he “fearfully took refuge in a low hovel” (132). His new home had “a wretched appearance after the palaces [he] had beheld in the village” (132). This hovel was attached to the De Lacey’s cottage. While living outside of the De Lacey’s cabin in the hovel, the monster observed the family and learned their ways of living. The monster learned that the De Lacey’s would treat strangers with great respect. This helped the monster believe that the De Lacey’s would treat him with respect as the other strangers did. As a result, the monster wanted to help the family and become their friends.
He did this by finding ways to “assist their labours” (137). The monster would cut wood for them to allow them more time to gather food. The monster lived there for a very long time and helped the De Lacey’s any way he could. He would perform his practical tasks at night while sleeping so that the family would not see him and run away. The reader would not have expected this kind of act from the monster after reading Victor’s narrative. The monster does not want to live in solitude. He wants to interact with people and become their friends. His appearance makes this interaction difficult. With his “height so superior to thine; [his] joints more supple” (126), he is always going to be looked at as a creature.
As the monster explains his life, we begin to understand and feel sorry for the monster. He killed William, Victor’s brother, to punish Victor for creating and abandoning him to complete solitude. Angry with Victor, the monster “declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against [Victor] who had formed [him], and sent [him] forth to this insupportable misery”(161). The monster’s observations are a method for the monster to learn how he should act to become their friend. The way Victor treats people is very immature compared to the monster’s method of observation and adaptation. Victor treats people with disrespect. He does not write home for months at a time while he is on his travels. He expects his family to be there for him, but he has no obligation to them.
Anyone unfamiliar with Shelley’s novel Frankenstein has the idea that the monster kills people at random. The monster is a very kind and passionate person who only wants to be loved. It is human nature to judge people by their first impression. We believe what we hear, and it is sometimes difficult to change our initial perception. We need to keep an open mind when we hear another person’s perception of an individual. The most beautiful person you will ever meet may be the most disliked person by your peers. Frankenstein teaches us an important lesson; look with your own eyes, and think before you judge.
- Shelley, Mary. “Frankenstein.” The United States. Colburn and Bentley.
- Dover Publications, Inc. New York. 1994.
- Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus
- Mary Shelly