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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Less human than Monster

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“…I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limb.” (Shelley, 51) These are the words that came out of Victor Frankenstein, a man who is fascinated with science and philosophy. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein takes place in Geneva, where Victor Frankenstein plays the role of God by creating life. Instead of being accepted by society, the monster is shunned because of monstrosity and deformity. The monster feels loneliness, hatred, and bitterness and seeks revenge on Frankenstein. Although there is a difference between the characters, Frankenstein and the monster, the similarities are more significant because both are human-like and isolated.


Frankenstein and the monster differ in a way. Victor Frankenstein is self-centered and greedy while the monster turns evil because of rejection. Frankenstein is greedy and cares only about himself. When he had the chance to prevent harm from his family and friends, he became more and more concerned with only himself. When he created the monster, he could have warned the family and stopped the death of innocent William. When Justine was accused of being the murderer of William, Frankenstein could have spoken up and proven her innocence. But instead, he let her die and swam in his own guilt. The monster threatens Victor. “It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night.” (17) Victor is so worried about himself that he fails to see that the threat was for Elizabeth.


Greed is something that separates Victor Frankenstein and the monster apart. Victor’s intention of creating the monster was out of greed. He wanted to fulfill his need of seeking knowledge by creating life. By creating life, he was playing God and he became obsessed with it. “I ceased to fear or to bend before any being less almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements” (78). He was so consumed in his form that it did not matter that the monster was his first creation, just like Adam and Eve. When the monster came to life, he saw his monstrosity and hideousness that he abandoned his own creation.


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At first, the monster’s intentions were to only be accepted by society, but seeing that his own creator abandons him, he turns evil. When the monster left Geneva, he learned to survive on his own. He met a family that seemed kind and might accept him for who he is. Once again, he was shunned for his appearance. He was angered and infuriated with rage that he lashed out his frustration towards Victor’s younger brother, William. He wanted revenge on the inventor who left him and made him into a repulsive thing.


Even though they have a difference between them, they also share some similarities. Victor and his monster are both human-like. Usually, monsters have no emotions or remorse, but the monster shows compassion for the cottagers. He shows compassion, fear and a desire to be accepted by society. His display of care and compassion are more humane than most humans. He is like a child, innocent and na├»ve. The monsters only intention is to be accepted by society but in this case, he is not. He is judged solely on his appearance rather than his intelligence. A human characteristic the monster shows is his conscience. Towards the end of the novel, after Frankenstein dies, he tells Walton, “It is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept...You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself”(155). He admits to Walton that he murdered the innocent but no one can feel the guilt he does.


Another similarity they both share is isolation and abandonment. The monster and Victor were abandoned at an early age. His mother died while attending Elizabeth when she caught the scarlet fever and Frankenstein is left without his mother. Frankenstein isolates himself from society. He is so consumed in his work that he pushed away anyone who tried to help him. He worked days and nights working on the monster. “Summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit” () Elizabeth would write letters to Victor telling him to return to Geneva because of his health and mental state. Henry would try to persuade Victor to allow him go wherever he did. Then, he becomes isolated when the monster kills his loved ones. He is left with nobody in the end.


The monster, on the other hand, is rejected by Frankenstein’s abandonment. Obviously, he is ostracized as a hideous outcast of society. “Believe me, Frankenstein I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity but am I not alone, miserably alone?” (66). He is nothing but benevolent until society shuns him because of his deformities. We see the monster attempting to be accepted by society. Each time he tries, he fails. He receives nothing but angry villagers throwing rocks or sticks and stones. He receives the friendship of De Lacey, but once Felix, Safie and Agatha enter the house, they see the hideous ogre. He is struck violently with a stick. After that, he is once again isolated.


It is obvious that Victor Frankenstein and his creation are similar and different. Their similarities are more important than the difference. Victor’s ego in his search for god-like capabilities overpowers his humanity and he becomes so consumed in it that he isolates himself. The monster is more humane than his own creator because his wicked deeds are committed in response to society’s corruption while Frankenstein’s evil work comes from his own greed. His behavior affects everyone in the novel. He hurts everyone’s feelings, let the ones he love die, and he abandons his own creation. Not even the monster could commit such horrible crimes before the effects of society.





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