Frankenstein Essay, Research Paper
Victor Frankenstein had a wonderful life as a child. He was loving and cared deeply for his family. At the age of thirteen the works of Cornelius Agrippa fascinated him. His father called it ´sad trash´, which only fuelled his curiosity and enthusiasm ‘the fatal impulse that led to my ruin.´ His thirst for knowledge of science continued for two years until he witnessed the total destruction of a tree in a thunderstorm. The explanation of electricity shattered all of his ideas and concepts that he thought he knew and completely turned him against any more science. He decided to stick to maths studies ‘but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.´ The reader is given a sense of doom even at this stage in his life. When his mother died he was devastated, his initial grief and disbelief gave way to a determination and an aim in life, which was to find out a new life form that would be stronger and smarter and would not die from disease.
At university his interest in chemistry soon became apparent, almost to obsession. He tirelessly and relentlessly studied ‘ change from life to death, and death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me´ Frankenstein was staggered that he ‘alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.´ He genuinely believed that he had the ability and knowledge, fuelled from the fantasies that he had read as a young boy to become the creator of life. Feeling completely rational and justified in his work Frankenstein states “Remember, I am not recording the vision of a madman.” This statement gives the reader the impression that he is trying to justify himself. He worked night and day until ‘I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.´ His passion to succeed and feelings that ‘a new species would bless as its creator and source.´ There were moments when his conscience surfaced ‘often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, but his feelings ‘like a hurricane´ to create a ‘being of a gigantic stature.´ Frankenstein worked to the point of exhaustion for the next few years ‘for the sole point of infusing life into an inanimate body.´ He genuinely believed that he had the ability and knowledge from fantasies that he had read as a young boy to become a creator of life. Frankenstein was driven on by his experiments even though he was sometimes disgusted with himself and the contents of his workshop ‘often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation.´ The success that he achieved in his first experiments convinced him that it was correct for him to be working on the creation of life. Frankenstein was desperate to succeed at all costs; he wanted to create a beautiful creature that everyone would admire. His first creation was a creature that shattered his dreams ‘now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.´ Horrified and shocked at the apparition before his eyes, he runs away, the guilt and horror penetrate his mind that can not absorb the failure and disaster he has created. At this stage you feel pity for Frankenstein, the loss of his mother and fascination to experiment with life and death have driven him to believing that he can create perfection and that everyone will be grateful and worship him. He had it set in his mind that he was going to achieve his goal and that it would be praised. His state of mind was only changed when he finally achieved creating life his reaction was ‘what have I done´ he was horrified at the state of the creature. Revulsion and shock cause a complete nervous breakdown Frankenstein is unable to cope with reality and failure, he becomes ‘lifeless, and did not recover my senses for a long, long time.´ He does not think that he has allowed this creature to escape or worry about the consequences.
When the creature is first brought to life, he is confused, he is quick to develop an understanding of the sense of pain, heat, hunger and cold. He marvels and delights like a child at the sights and sounds of nature. He is puzzled by the beating that he receives from the villagers and resolves to keep his distance and observe them, hoping that he will discover why they drove him away. There is no anger or desire for revenge at this stage, the creature delights in their beauty and happiness and shares their sorrows ‘when they were unhappy, I felt depressed, when they rejoiced, I sympathised in their joys.´ He becomes very fond of them and when he realises that food is scarce and the young ones are going without to enable the old man to eat he feels very guilty that he has been stealing from them. He has no evil intentions towards anyone or anything at this stage, he is still very innocent. When relationships between families become clear to him, he becomes curious and bewildered at his own background ‘where were my friends and relations? What was I?´ The creature has shown himself to be intelligent, capable of deep emotions and sensitive to the suffering of others; he is also patient in his quest to discover his identity. Bitterness first emerges when he learns to read and studies the papers that he stole from his creator, which disgust and sicken him and start the feeling of hatred towards Frankenstein. He is bitter that even his creator could not stand the sight of him ‘God, in pity made man beautiful and alluring´ Sympathy for the creature deepens as he desperately tries to be accepted by acts of kindness to the villagers, in the hope that they will be so grateful that they will accept his looks. He receives another beating and then discovers that ´My protectors had departed, and had broken the only link that held me to the world.´ The rage that has been building inside him now turns to hatred, he wishes that he had destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and ´glutted myself with their shrieks of misery.´ ‘For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them.´ Although warning bells are now ringing to the reader that the hatred building up is becoming uncontrollable, there is still compassion he can not bring himself to harm any human and he turns his fury ‘towards inanimate objects.´ His compassion surfaces once more when he saves the life of a young girl, but again he is rewarded by violence, he is shot and at this point ´vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind.´ In his search for a companion his hatred festers and he desires revenge for his suffering, he comes across a small boy and naively thinks that someone small will have no bias towards his looks and willingly become a companion. When the child, William screams verbal abuse at him it emerges that he is related to Frankenstein, the simmering hatred emerges and with no remorse the creature murders him. ‘I gazed on my victim and my heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph´ I too, can create desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable, this death will carry despair to him and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him.´ He becomes evil and devious as he attempts to plant evidence on Justine. Not only did he learn manners and gentleness from the villagers, but also survival. A turning point for both characters is when they meet and the creature requests for a companion. He goes to Frankenstein and demands a companion. ‘You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being´, this is a very reasonable statement in many ways, and one main argument would be that he is alone in the world with no one like him. ‘This you alone can do; and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede.´ He states very clearly that Frankenstein has no choice and that he will meet his demands. Frankenstein´s first reaction is to refuse the proposal ‘I do refuse it,´ ‘Shall I create another like yourself, whose joint wickedness might desolate the world!´ This is a very strong statement it is full of Frankenstein´s feelings towards the creature, this is showing Frankenstein´s evil side by him not taking into consideration the feelings of the creature. The creature replied surprisingly very calmly and disagreed with Frankenstein ‘You are in the wrong, and instead of threatening I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable.´ The creature continues to justify his demands and gain Frankenstein´s sympathy with his eloquence ‘Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces, and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?´ Frankenstein feels a mixture of compassion and surprise at the sensitivity of the monster that he created. He consents to the demand of a female in the hope that the creature will keep his word and leave Europe thus freeing him from the guilt and fear that persecuted him day and night. Initially a mixture of fear an sense of duty to honour the promise that he had made drove Frankenstein back to the laboratory but as he came closer to creating another creature he began to realise how disastrous the outcome of another creature could be on the human race. Frankenstein realises how selfish he had been and began to consider the consequences ‘They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form?´ ‘She also might turn him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own species.´ These quotes all show Frankenstein´s horror of what might happen if he creates a second creature, his conscience causes him to destroy the female he had been working on, in front of his first creations eyes ‘trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged. The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, and with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew.´ The creature went to Frankenstein´s room and asked ‘You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare break your promise?´ Frankenstein replied with ‘Begone! I do break my promise;
A battle of will and determination follows bringing out the strengths of their characters. Frankenstein is no longer moved by the eloquence of the creature and the continual threats make him even more determined to refuse a companion. The creature is now thriving on the destruction that he knows he is capable of and on the desire for revenge which he describes as ‘dearer than light or food.´ Frankenstein however is left with the threat ‘I will be with you on your wedding night.´ The creature now is truly evil and will not stop until he has destroyed everyone dear to his creator.
Frankenstein is overwhelmed with guilt and as the misery grows his dearest friend Clerval is murdered, adding to his wretchedness. The final murder of Elizabeth and Frankenstein satisfies the creature who admits to Walton that he has turned evil and that he hates himself, he knows that the only way to find peace is to ‘collect my funeral pile and consume to ashes this miserable frame´ ‘I shall die.´
The character of Frankenstein is not portrayed as evil, he is selfish and single minded in his pursuit to create perfection. He does not consider the implications of his dangerous experiments or believe that anything could possibly go wrong, his intentions he believed were good. Horrified at his failure and unable to accept what has happened he runs away from the problem, he is too vain to admit that what he has done is wrong and will not confide in even his most loyal friend. He almost lives in a fantasy world, believing that he can become a creator of life and respected by all. Frankenstein´s weakness is inability to admit failure, he is repulsed by the
creature and physically unable to cope. His misery is increased as he realises that his creation is the murderer of his brother. However when he meets the creature he is moved by his story and agrees to a female companion. Not being driven on in the same way his conscience soon gets the better of him and he feels so strongly that he is doing wrong that he is able to destroy his work. At this point we see a change in the character he is stronger and able to rationalise, he realises that he has to accept responsibility and not risk a second disaster. The creature does not show his evil side until he has won the sympathy of the reader from his constant rejection and desperate need for love, he is shown to be highly intelligent and extremely sensitive to the feelings of the people that he has observed. The intensity of his emotions finally turns to revenge when he discovers his origins. When the female is destroyed he murders “the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing.” He finally admits that he has done wrong, that he is wretched and evil his actions have not satisfied him, he is still in turmoil. Both characters have a deep intensity of emotions and become obsessed with one objective, they become blind to any one else that it might affect and are unable to look at anything objectively. In this way they are thoughtless and could be considered evil, since they do not have any thought towards those who may be harmed for them to achieve their desires. The creature becomes evil from his observation of the human race, he desperately wants to experience companionship and to be loved instead of being driven away and treated as a monster. His naivety gradually changes to cunning and hatred through his encounters and once he has murdered, the overwhelming sense of power feeds and nourishes him. Frankenstein is not portrayed as evil in the same way, his experiments are sinister and he is cowardly when the final result is too hideous for him to acknowledge. Frankenstein did not intend to create an evil creature many of its qualities were very fine, from intelligence to sensitivity and .a capacity for intense love. When Frankenstein was a young boy he described his own character saying ‘My temper was sometimes violent, and my passions vehement´ which suggests to the reader that they were very similar. Unfortunately the hideous body never allowed any human to experience the other side of its character. All in all they both were just as evil in their own way and both ended up unhappy.
Andrew Prothero Words 2590