This is an essay on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The end is a little rushed, but it's due soon and I wanted to give others time to comment on it. Also, I am unsure how to use MLA citation in the paper. Here is the prompt: Explore Mary Shelley's character of Victor Frankenstein physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Do any of these traits parallel his creation? What is Victor's motive?
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clayTo mould me Man, did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me?"
Laced with betrayal and murder, Frankenstein is the story of an errant scientist and the warping of an blameless creature by devastating social circumstances. Both started on a different trajectory but ended up in identical situations. The irony of Mary Shelley's novel is that the Frankenstein creation craved acceptance but appeared a monster, while Victor was cruel and thoughtless but looked human.
Victor Frankenstein is a young aristocrat with endless opportunities and a burgeoning obsession with physical science. Coming from a high-class family, Victor has never been exposed to legitimate need; indeed, Victor's sheltered life extends to believing a young playmate was a possession. Seemingly an average man for the time period, the reader is given few clues as to Victor Frankenstein's exact appearance, except that he is a very studious boy, pale and thin.
Victor's human-like fabrication, on the other hand, elicits a vivid description from his creator, "His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips" (Shelley 56). The creation is perceived to be a monster merely based upon appearance, even while in the midst of a good act.
These two individuals portrayed by Mary Shelley are near polar opposites on the physical spectrum; however, as one reads further into the novel it begins to appear that while Victor is not necessarily a monster on the inside, the man is far from compassionate and selfless. While Victor is accepted merely for conforming to a standard human appearance, on the inside he is disturbing and insensitive. The Frankenstein creature, conversely, is more empathetic than many human beings, before being transformed into a monster by abandonment and human misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the Frankenstein monster's exterior repulses other sentient beings at just a glance. Victor delineates the form he himself fashioned as; "A flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom I had given life" (Shelley 73).
Victor Frankenstein seemed emotionally detached from the world and rather self centered; true emotion emerged only after violent prodding by his creation. Victor Frankenstein was not the insane man portrayed by modern film, but a dangerously sane chemist who sought through rose-hue lens to father a new race. "Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me" (Shelley 52). Obviously, such lofty ambitions were not objectives pursed solely for the good of the human race. Indeed, Victor's speech rings of arrogance, "I was surprised that among so many men of genius who had directed their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret" (Shelley 51). Victor Frankenstein's single-minded determination to create life from death blinded him to another facet of creation, responsibility. "I had desired it [the monster's creation] with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart" (Shelley 56). Victor flees, revealing not only his desperate lack of maturity but a vast insensitivity towards his own creation. By abandoning the construct to the whims of others, Victor attempts to reject responsibility but ultimately the ramifications of such a betrayal land squarely upon his shoulders. As the monster takes revenge upon Victor's family Victor is "seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures, such as no language can describe" (Shelley 86). As Victor pursued the monster across the earth, all human connections and emotions save those of rage and revenge were lost.
Victor's creation, on the other hand, seems seized by profound emotion practically after coming to 'life.' The creature was abandoned by his architect and knew nothing of his origins; facts that continued to haunt him. Whereas a baby left to fend for itself at birth would surely perish, the Frankenstein monster possessed the physical capabilities to survive. However, he desperately lacked the mental maturity and experience to delve into society, even if one discounts the monster's appalling appearance. The superficial temperament of humankind barred the Frankenstein creation from any relationships with people, forcing him into a solitary lifestyle. This is a terrible cruelty to any sentient being; human creatures desperately need positive social interactions and being a construct made of human parts the Frankenstein creation seems to feel these same desires. The creature is crushed by harsh treatment at the hands of humans. "My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine" (Shelley 208).
Victor's tale invokes pity, but a closer look shows a more disturbing account. As Victor formed his creature, "Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay...and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation" (Shelley 53). During Victor's fervent search for life after death, he allowed his ego to take over and ignored human emotions and revulsions in his attempt to play god. The man was under the firm belief that his creation would come to worship him as the grand architect and a form of human deity. However, after forming a gigantic body with limbs stolen from graves and a triumphant reanimation, Victor finds himself disgusted by his construction and abandons it (Cliffnotes). Also, as Victor labored to create a mate for his monster upon a practically deserted island, where he obtains body parts for the new construct is puzzling.
Victor's creation became a monster in his actions after experiencing endless brutality at the hands of humans. This is exemplified by the creature conversing with a blind peasant man and when saving a young girl from drowning. At both occasions the creature is beaten and driven off. After experiencing violent treatment at the hands of humans the creature felt that "There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery" (Shelley 130). Frankenstein's creation learns of the world through experience and is beset by human violence at every turn when all it wishes for is acceptance. Finally deprived of companionship by even his creator, the Frankenstein monster embarks on a path of carnage. "Not simply a stock symbol for a part of Frankenstein's psyche, the creature also portrays a natural and innocent man who becomes the victim of his social conditions because he reacts to the adversity he faces with negative emotions" (123HelpMe).
At the end of the novel, both Victor and his creation are self-loathing, rage filled creatures with the same objective; to make the other feel their own pain. Victor set off on that path while thoughtlessly creating his 'monster and the Frankenstein creation was set upon his path by his creator's injustice. Even with different trajectories, both men commit monstrous acts and have the same emotional and behavioral traits at death, though different appearances.
Mahatma Gandhi considered Science without Humanity to be one of the seven most threatening behaviors to civilization; this rule is precisely what Victor Frankenstein broke. Victor himself says that, "in a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature, and was bound towards him, to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being" (Shelley 200). However, without a second thought, Frankenstein forsakes his creation on the superficial premise of appearance; a visage Victor himself created. This sets the Frankenstein creature on a path to ruin, which in turn inspires the Frankenstein creature to reap havoc on Victor Frankenstein. Victor's anguish appears in this passage, where Victor refers to himself as a creature, not a human. "A fiend has snatched from me every hope of future happiness; no creature had ever been so miserable as I was; so frightful an event is single in the history of man" (Shelley 188). However, it is easily apparent that Victor's creation is in continual torment, deprived of all relationships by Victor Frankenstein's thoughtless hand. Victor formed his 'monster' claiming that "no father could claim the gratitude of his child as completely as I should deserve [the monster's thanks]" (Shelley, 52). The Frankenstein monster gave Victor the gratitude he deserved.
"The Creature as a Foil to Frankenstein." 123HelpMe.
CliffsNotes. Why did Dr. Frankenstein create his monster?
And I haven't done the bib stuff for the first three lines from Paradise lost or all the quotes for Frankenstein.