This is an essay on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The end is alittle 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 clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?"
Intro: Not yet completed. Any ideas?
Thesis: The monster and the moral of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein are both inexorably entwined within the story's protagonist, Victor Frankenstein.
Crummy thesis. Any improvements or ideas?
Victor Frankenstein is a young aristocrat with endless opportunities served to him on a golden platter 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 humanistic fabrication, on the other hand, draws forth 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 Over the course of the creation's life, he is perceived to be a monster merely based upon appearance, even while in the midst of a good act. Such occurrences are shown when he is conversing with a blind peasant man and saving a young girl from drowning. At both occasions the creature is beaten and driven off.
The two individuals Mary Shelly portrays 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. The Frankenstein creature, conversely, is more empathetic than many human beings, before being transformed into a monster by abandonment and human misunderstanding. While Victor is accepted merely for conforming to a standard human appearance, the Frankenstein monster repulses other sentient beings merely at a glance. Victor delineates the form he himself fashioned as such; "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
As the idealistic chemist delved into the ancient wonders of chemistry, the mysteries of life and death seemed to unfold before him, dancing tantalizingly just out of reach. In a fallible quest to catch the indescribable, Victor embarked on a journey to display tangible proof; 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 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 the other facets 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 his insensitivity towards his own creation. By abandoning his construct to the whims of others, Victor abandons his responsibilities and brings the ramifications such a betrayal squarely upon his shoulders. As the monster reaps his 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
Immediately after coming to 'life' the creature was abandoned by his architect and knew nothing of the world. Whereas a baby left to fend for itself at birth would surely perish, the Frankenstein monster possessed the physical capabilities to fend for himself. However, he desperately lacked the mental maturity and experience to delve into society, even if one discounts the monster's appalling appearance. Left with no other option, the creature fled to the wilderness where he encountered physical hardship, but also beauty and happiness before encountering other sentient beings. This is an interesting phenomenon as later in the text the monster swears upon nature in sealing his pact with Victor Frankenstein. This is an unusual twist of human tradition but can be easily explained; the creature has no family to swear upon and has felt the inkling of happiness only when alone in the accommodating wild. Oddly enough, after Victor's family and friends have been destroyed, Victor also swears upon aspects of nature
The superficial nature of humankind has 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 his 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
During Victor's fervent search for life after death, he had allowed his ego to take over. Thus, the man was under the firm belief that his creation would come to worship him as the grand architect and a form of human god. 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.com
Victor's tale invokes pity, but a closer look shows a more disturbing account. In the methods of forming 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 As Victor toils to create a mate for his monster upon a practically deserted island, where he obtains body parts for his new construct is also puzzling. Pursuing the monster across the earth, Victor Frankenstein has lost all human connections and emotions save those of rage and revenge. In essence has become akin to the beast he formed through hand and action.
Victor's creation also became a rage-filled monster after experiencing endless cruelty and the hands of humans. "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
Mahatma Gandhi considered Science without Humanity to be one of the seven most threatening behaviors to civilization. This is precisely what Victor Frankenstein does, not in creating humanity from death, but in deserting his creation. 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 Without a second thought, Frankenstein forsakes his creation on the superficial premise of appearance; a visage Victor himself created. Frankenstein's creation learns of the world through experience and is beset by human violence and cruelty at every turn when all it wishes for is acceptance. Deprived of companionship by even his creator, the Frankenstein creature successfully makes Victor feel his pain; Victor shows his anguish in this passage and even refers to himself a creature instead of human being. "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."
Conclusion: Not yet completed. Here are some bits I will most likely include.
"And I call on you, spirits of the dead; and on you, wandering ministers of vengeance, to aid and conduct me in my work. Let the cursed and hellish monster drink deep of agony; let him feel the despair that now torments me." It is easily apparent, throughout the novel that Victor's creation is in continual torment; the creature deprived of all relationships by Victor Frankenstein's thoughtless hand. Victor himself, with his family, lover, and friend destroyed, is now feeling the desolation his creation has experienced its entire existence.
No father could clame the graditude of his child as completely as I should deserve [my creation's]. -Victor Frankenstein. Shelley, 52