Frankenstein is set in the 18th Century. A scientist called Victor Frankenstein was always interested in natural philosophy and the way in which the human body worked from a young age. Eventually, he started toying with the idea that using electricity and various scientific knowledge of his, he could bring a body (cut up via himself using various corpses’ body parts) to life. Eventually, he does this but it goes horribly wrong as Victor realizes what he has done. He pushes The Creature out of his life, and out of his mind – until The Creature demands that his creator should love him as a father should his son. Victor refuses, and The Creature ends up killing Victor’s brother and a good friend of Victor’s – Justine. In the end, Victor dies due to old age and tiredness. As soon as The Creature sees him he disappears. All he wanted was for Victor to be a father to him.
The author of the novel, ‘Frankenstein’, Mary Shelley, was influenced by Romantic ideas and idealistic views of her parents, and because of these ideas, she felt that no matter what was on the outside, love, came from the inside. However, she was also aware of the social injustice of life at the time in society, and felt that she should address this issue in the book, ‘Frankenstein’. Even though she doesn’t blatantly state that The Creature was only a monster in society’s eyes, she does tend to let our minds wander to that opinion every once in a while in the novel. She also makes it plain to see that originally Frankenstein had adored his creation – until, of course, it came to life. Then, just like society, Victor ran away and was determined to have nothing more to do with The Creature. However, in another point of view, maybe Victor never really loved The Creature and was too busy trying to create human life without thinking about the consequences of his actions, that he didn’t really care what The Creature looked like, or the fact that The Creature would have felt in all of this mayhem.
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Maybe Victor just wanted fame for his creation, and not a son, as A Creature thought. Shelly thus poses the question, “Who is the real monster, Frankenstein, or his creation?” We may feel that The Creature should be the monster, as in the novel many people were terrified and ran away from him – and not so many people would do that without a good reason and just because of someone’s physical appearance! However, many people did run away from him due to his looks, either directly or indirectly, as he did have an inhumane appearance. In chapter 5, Victor himself clearly describes what he sees in The Creature by saying, ‘His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath…unable to endure the aspect of the being…I rushed out of the room.’ As this description indicates – this creature did not have society’s view of a ‘normal’ appearance. In the 21st Century, we may not be as frightened of the prospect of this creature, but you need to remember that this book was set in the 18th Century, and society’s standards and views were a lot different then, compared to now.
The way we think and feel is completely different, as our society is more used to seeing things that may have shocked an 18th Century community, as we have more freedom to express ourselves these days whether it be piercings, clothes or make-up. To prove this, a passage spoken by The Creature himself said, ‘He turned on hearing a noise, and perceiving me, shrieked loudly.’ This shows us that even though he (The Creature) hadn’t behaved monstrously up until that point; he had still not been given a chance in society’s eyes. The Creatures’ behaviour, however, was far from “humane” later on in the novel. Describing himself, The Creature stated, ‘I was like a wild beast,’ and, ‘I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me.’ This tells us that even The Creature himself knew that he couldn’t be compared to us humans. Note how he uses the simile, ‘…like a wild beast,’ instead of ‘…angered human,’ or ‘…like a wild man,’ thinking that perhaps he was closer to the monstrous side.
Also, later on in the book when The Creature murdered William he said he had only, ‘…grasped his throat to silence him,’ suggesting that the taking of human life didn’t mean much to The Creature. Moreover, the creature framed Justine for the murder (a crime which she obviously did not commit), which tells us that The Creature is definitely calculating and monstrous. However, The Creature may not be to blame for this at all. Victor Frankenstein was the one who had created The Creature without much thought to what he was doing in the first place. Frankenstein was the one who hadn’t anticipated what he would do with The Creature after he had created it. He didn’t stop to think even when he was stealing body parts from graves to create The Creature. We know this as he said, ‘I collected bones from the Charnel houses,’ as if it was an everyday activity!
After Victor had seen The Creature, he decides to run away instead of facing what he spent all those months trying to create. Later on he said, ‘He (the creature) might have spoken…but I escaped and rushed downstairs.’ This tells us that Frankenstein is obviously irresponsible and that The Creature never deserved to suffer the hate and abandonment portrayed by his, “father” just because Victor couldn’t handle the enormity of what he had done. Victor also said, ‘I felt the bitterness of disappointment,’ which suggests that Victor is acting spoilt and idiotic by thinking of only himself, and not of how his creation must feel.
Whatever intelligence Frankenstein had before the creation; he certainly did not have after. He had no sympathy at all for The Creature – even though it was Victor’s (and only Victor’s) fault that The Creature was brought to life in the first place. Victor said, ‘Come on then, that I might extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed,’ which tells us that Victor doesn’t want to listen, or help The Creature in any way. All he wants to do is kill him. His creation, his work, his, ‘child.’ It might have not, in fact, been The Creature’s fault for his occasional monstrosity. Seeing as he had to learn everything from scratch as he had no mother or father to teach him anything – he most certainly never learnt right from wrong. The Creature shows his humane side many times throughout the book – especially when he starts to learn the concepts of this world. He stated, ‘I was delighted when I first discovered that pleasant sound, which often saluted my ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals…’ this suggests that even the sound of a bird singing made The Creature happy as most humans would feel.
Also, he hears the young girl in the cottage play music and said, ‘It was a lovely sight, even to me, poor wretch! Who never before beheld aught beautiful before.’ A monster wouldn’t care about music in the way that The Creature did. The Creature tried to find the beauty in everything – even from a bird song and never behaved inhumanely at that point. The Creature felt moved by it all. He had finally learnt words and emotions from the cottagers and felt strongly about the first human kindness that he had ever experienced. Surely he was just a big teddy bear after all?
Instead of planning to kill the cottagers, The Creature had often helped them! He said, ‘I often took his (male cottager) tools, the use of which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days.’ He did this anonymously, not gaining anything from this kind gesture himself, suggesting he was caring and thoughtful after all. Later on, The Creature even saves a human life by rescuing a child that was drowning! He explained, ‘I endeavoured, by every means in my power, to restore animation,’ however, The Creature is then shot by another human being. Once again The Creature had been branded by his looks, instead of the kindness and love that he had to give which were trapped inside of his grotesque body (as seen in society’s eyes).
The Creatures desire for love was large. Surely a monster wouldn’t care about love so strongly in this way? The Creature frequently referred to the cottages as, ‘my cottagers,’ by seeing them as his own family and said that, ‘I required kindness and sympathy,’ which he wanted the cottagers to feel towards him. The Creature wanted what all of us had when we were younger – nurturing and someone to be there for us. However, in the end, he did not receive this as the cottagers abandoned him. Later on, when confronting Frankenstein, The Creature said, ‘I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself.’ In the end, The Creature felt and acted humanely after all – all he wanted was someone the same as him, to be there for him and to help and support him. The Creature needed a friend.
Just because The Creature may have acted humanely, it doesn’t mean that he actually was. Frankenstein himself had wanted to help mankind when deciding to create The Creature. He said, ‘I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time…renew life where death had apparently devoured the body.’ All Frankenstein wanted to do was save mankind from death and illness, and that was why he had begun his, “project.” He said he wanted to, ‘…pour a torrent of life into our dark world.’ All he wanted was to put smiles onto sad and lonely faces. Frankenstein was definitely a family man. He loved his family and Elizabeth dearly. ‘I looked upon Elizabeth as mine – mine to protect, love, and cherish.’ He felt like a sort of brother to her – he needed to protect her and at the same time have her comfort him also.
He also mentioned, ‘I loved my brothers, Elizabeth, and Clerval,’ suggesting that there is no monster in him – just a man protective of his family and close friends. No way did he want that creature near them or anything from that dark side of his world. Frankenstein also had a compassionate side. He said, ‘I was moved,’ (when The Creature told his story to his creator). He even felt enough pity to begin to make The Creatures companion. ‘…did I not as his maker, owe him all the portion of happiness that it was in my power to bestow?’ It was obvious that Victor felt compassion for his creature – and maybe even a little gilt. After all, he was created only to be abandoned. You could also tell that Victor regretted his actions as he said, ‘I compassionated him and sometimes felt a wish to console him,’ suggesting that Frankenstein wanted to help comfort his creation for all that he had been put through.
Frankenstein blamed himself for the death of Justine, William, Clerval, and Elizabeth. He also felt that it was his duty to destroy his creation because of it. He even went out of his way to travel around the world chasing The Creature – trying to kill it once and for all. However, I believe that if Frankenstein had done this then it would only have made him as bad as The Creature. After all, The Creature had no one to teach it right from wrong, but Victor did. Had Victor embraced The Creature as his “son,” and brought him up, educated him, loved him, and protected him, then the situation would have been completely different. The Creature would have learnt to ignore other people for hating him for his looks (as such a child would when being bullied).
The Creature would have grown up to love Victor, and under no circumstances would have he needed to try and murder Victor’s family members and close friends. I believe that The Creature should not have been made in the first place if it was to be treated in the way it was originally. Frankenstein spent months trying to create The Creature in order to kill him again! There was definitely no point in putting The Creature through that much trauma and pain, so therefore he should not have been created to endure so much for nothing.
In conclusion, I believe that both The Creature and Frankenstein had certain inhumane traits about them. However, I believe that Frankenstein is the real monster in all of this. It is true that The Creature murdered in cold blood. Yet it was justified. His creator had created him only in order to abandon him and put him through pain and misery throughout the whole of his life! The Creature had grown up only to face hate and discrimination – he knew only greed and monstrosity. He didn’t know right from wrong seeing as Frankenstein hadn’t even bothered to stick around. The Creature was never a complete monster, as he did show his capacity for love and kindness. Moreover, if he had been brought up properly with Frankenstein as his, “father,” then The Creature would have had a totally different life and lifestyle. He wouldn’t have felt neglected, and more importantly, he wouldn’t have needed to have his revenge on his creator. After all, it wasn’t the creature’s fault. He hadn’t asked to be made!