Frankenstein Essay, Research Paper
The Monster, The True Victim
Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein, symbolized a person’s necessity for acceptance by society. Society labels everything as good or bad, right or wrong, rich or poor. Although some of these labels may be correct, many are misconceptions. The monster, needed to be accepted by society, but instead was scorned, attacked, and shunned because of his outward appearance. The treatment of the monster was on the assumption that he was actually a monster. The only justification of this treatment was his outward appearance.
The death of Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s father stirred his interest in prolonging life. He had noble intentions of helping humanity. As death is a part of life, he became obsessed with death. He felt he had to experience death to a certain point. “To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death.” (Shelley 36) Dr. Frankenstein started studying the effects of death on the human body. This study became an obsession with him. He wanted to be able to create life. If he could create a living, breathing being, then he would be God like. Unlike God, Frankenstein abandoned his creation.
Dr. Frankenstein’s creature was somewhat like Adam in that they were unique and individual. Adam was created and given a companion, Eve. He received loving care and had the presence of a father. Even though Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden, his father never deserted him. Adam was created with unselfish intentions, and was not punished by God until he had violated the law. The monster cannot be held accountable for his abandonment, for he was forsaken and unloved from the moment he was created. Frankenstein never processed any loving feelings for his creation. However, God took full responsibility for his creation, nurtured him and never fully abandoned him. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, Adam was created in the image of love or something greater than selfishness. God desired to create Adam and was prepared to act as an accountable parent. In contrast, Victor never even demystified the actual existence of his creation, much resembling an unplanned pregnancy that was never emotionally or rationally dealt with even after the actual birth of the child. One’s example of this complete disregard, is demonstrated by Victor’s absolute lack of concentration on the creatures physical demeanor. He gave the creature a disproportional framework along with a grotesque appearance. Frankenstein never considered that such a creature would never be able to coexist with human beings or live a normal life.
The creature does not receive affection. Despite these unfortunate beginnings, the creature asserts that he was good, despite the absence of guidance and parenting until he encountered society. The monster first encounters physical sensations such as hot, cold, dark, and hunger. This period is the creature’s infancy state. He later learns through experience to distinguish, understand and handle these physical sensations. His sensitive experiences enable him to learn to care and sustain his being.
The creature learns how to speak and the belief of morality and virtue through observation of the De Lacey family. This gain of language enlarges his intellectual capacities. He also reads their library, which includes both classical and modern works. However, this education only brings woe to the creature as he states, “. . . sorrow only increased with knowledge. Oh, that I had forever remained in my native wood (Shelley 105). One might presume that Shelley is commenting upon parenting, as she makes numerous references to the pressures and realities of being a parent. To return to a biblical reference, Frankenstein also resembles Eve through the creation of his monster. Discovering knowledge, as Eve does by eating the forbidden fruit or Frankenstein’s knowledge and desire to increase human life continuance, they both enter their journey without any previous knowledge of what their actions will bring. It is ironic to note that it took Frankenstein nine months to create his monster. For nine months he gave his all to the creation, and his only desire was to see it live. Frankenstein did not know that in giving life to this lifeless matter would in return bring him agony until his death. Through his great desire to give life to the lifeless matter, he was lead to want, “like a monarch or a god, absolute power” (Bennett 34). At first his intentions were noble, yet as he proceeded and came closer to completion, his goal was no longer only to prolong life, but to be the master of a complete race of beings.
The topics of parenting, previously avoided by male authors, was regarded as a taboo subject. Mary explored parenting questions through Victor. His actions and consequently his creation’s actions answered many parental queries: What if I do not love my child? What if my child is deformed? Could I wish my own child to die? They surfaced from her and any parent’s natural fears, concerning possible physical handicaps or perhaps a bad-tempered child. These questions and fears that Mary felt, are expressed through Frankenstein’s complete failure as a parent and namely, as a mother. Upon birth of his creation, Frankenstein does not rejoice or reach out to his child, but instead rushes out of the room, incredibly repulsed by the disgusting and abnormal physical appearance of his creation. Although he had complete control of appearance, he did not realize until the monster lived how repulsive it actually was. The birth itself is unlovingly described, “I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open: it breathed hard and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs” (Shelley 42). When the creature attempts to follow him, Victor continues his escape thus abandoning his child. The amount of Frankenstein’s lack of attention to his creature’s outward appearance is disturbing. He knew of the creature’s gigantic proportions. He never considered the result of his actions, consequently how the monster could coexist with other beings.
Frankenstein admits that his creation was both an accident and wrong. (Shelley 42). Unlike a parent who would care equally for a deformed child, Frankenstein abandons his creation and all of his parental obligations. Victor commits the ultimate act of hatred towards his creation, by his outright disavowal and renunciation of all parental ties. He is an abuser, who mistreats the abused, namely the monster, who then himself becomes an abuser also. Indeed, many parents follow this same pattern of neglect and abuse, sadly as Frankenstein does. Here, we can assume as the reader that Mary is commenting upon appropriate parenting techniques and their subsequent importance. Ironically, the creature’s first murder victim is a small girl, which he wished to adopt. Indeed, Victor wished death upon his creation: “I gnashed my teeth, my eyes became inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that life which I so thoughtlessly bestowed” (Shelley 76). Towards the end of the novel, the creature has feelings of vengeance and resentment towards his creator, because of Frankenstein’s lack of parental care. Here one can observe that Shelley explores the predicament of that forsaken child, the direct result of faulty parenting.
The creature is fully aware of the absence of a parental figure in his life. His encounter with the De Laceys, displaces him from his natural state, and displays to him the family unit, education, and the laws and customs of society. The monster understands his alienation from society. This embitters him and causes his subsequent vindictiveness towards society and Victor. The creature, himself, describes his dilemma:
. . .I was absolutely ignorant, but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they and could subsist upon coarser diet; I could bore the extremes of heat and could with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs. (Shelley 105)
The absence of love and understanding in the creature’s life implies that he would have profited from the additional absence of his consciousness. Frankenstein’s son would have benefited by remaining in an animal-like state in the wilderness. The creature’s greatest and most painful rite of passage was his realization that he was alone, again referring back to Adam. His father, Frankenstein, mimics the behavior of a typical abuser by his lack of attention realizing what he has done to his child. I feel that if Victor had felt remorse for the wrongs he had committed against his son and had loved him, the creature would not have become a killer. If given affection, the creature would have found a way to overcome his other shortcomings.
Frankenstein could see only the excitement and challenge in his ultimate goals. He should have paid more attention to his decisions. However, one could assert that Frankenstein, himself, was trying to create a substitute for own deceased mother. Indeed, Victor was deeply affected by the premature and untimely death of his lively and nurturing mother. Perhaps Victor was not in an emotionally healthy state when he made the decision to create his child. Here, Shelley is discussing the pros and cons of contemplation before conceiving a child. It is entertaining to think that Shelley, herself, probably never had the luxury of choice, whether it was due to the lack of family planning technology or her own emotional obstacles.
Frankenstein’s journey of Faustian beginning with his neglectful parent actions, is a deeply interconnected and richly developed expedition within the novel. I feel that the greater part of this work is the speaking of one woman’s fears, and the fears of most parents. Mary Shelley asked if an un-mothered child who undergoes much pain, can ever mature into a moral, considerate member of society? Levine says, “ . . . the Frankenstein metaphor implies great ambiguity about where the burden of good and evil rests” (31). This signifies the importance of acceptance by society and that without love and affection we all could be acceptable to a violent nature.