Victor Frankenstein is the true monster in the novel titled Frankenstein by Mary Shelley because his effort to assume supernatural status results in a creature that inspires horror and disgust in society. This postulation may be opposed by many readers who believe that the creature victor made is the real monster. The true definition of a monster is a creature that inspires horror and disgust. From the semantic viewpoint, the creature is the monster in the novel. However, from a thematic point of view, it is wrong to conclude that the creature is the monster. This paper is going to prove why Victor is the real monster in the novel.
To start with, the creature that inspired horror and disgust in society was created by Victor. Had he not created that creature, the people would not have experienced the atrocities committed by the monster. His irresponsible behavior after he fails to get satisfaction from his creature makes society suffer. He is therefore responsible for all the atrocities committed by the monster. Why did victor create the monster in the first place? Victor wants to prove to the whole society that he has some supernatural powers and that is why he engages in a scientific process that gives rise to this creature.
One may say that factors beyond his control pushed Victor to engage in the scientific process that gave rise to this creature. The demise of his mother and self-alienation from his society inspired this creative process. Creating is not the big problem in this case. The problem is the way he reacted to the results of his creative process. The results of his creative process are a grotesque monster whose sight horrifies its creator. He then resolves to destroy what he had created. Unfortunately, his creation escapes from the science lab, swearing to avenge by going on the offensive against victor and the rest of the human folk. Is the creature to blame for its actions? The perspective from which this book is written is very subjective because it makes the reader see the evils that the monster committed without giving them a chance to reflect on the origin of these evils. Keen analysts will discover that this point of view is subjective because portrays the monster as the evil character. Victor manages to bring out all the negative characteristics of the monster in a convincing way. This subjectivity draws the readers away from the flaws of the narrator (Tropp, p. 4).
However, a keen reader will notice that Victor was solely interested in creating a life without thinking about the responsibilities that were to be undertaken once the life has been created. He did not think about the aftermath of his creation. When the monster is created, its behavior is akin to that of an infant. An infant needs the care of the mother and the guidance of everyone concerned and this is what the creature needed. In the initial stage of its life, the creature does not have the mannerisms of a monster. Instead of caring for his creature and giving it the necessary guidance, Victor is devastated by its grotesque sight and his selfishness leads him to attempt to destroy the creature, which subsequently escapes from its confines to save its life.
According to Martin Tropp in his book titled The Mary Shelley Monster, Most readers believe that Frankenstein is the monster but in the real sense, it is the name of the scientist who made the monster (Tropp, p. 67). However, the name can fit both the creator and the creature. To prove his point, Tropp starts by examining the domestic situation that Victor had that inspired him to create the monster. Victor had a good family background, with loving parents, good friends, and material security. However, Victor is vulnerable to obsessions and this is seen when he rejects the alchemist’s thoughts from his professors. To him, the thoughts are useless and he, therefore, misses the grandeur of their thoughts and concentrates on harnessing the science of those days and matching it to the great visions of those who had come before him. Despite having a stable family, Victor turns his back on his family and friends as he becomes increasingly obsessed with his project. He also turns his back against nature itself and immediately after succeeding in creating, he turns his back on his creation also.
Victor can be compared to the mythical man in olden literature called Faust who sold his soul in return for the forbidden knowledge but the problem with him is that he refused to take responsibility for his actions. Tropp argues that the central figure in this book is not victor himself. The central figure is the creature he succeeded in making then turned his back on it. This creature is a technological creation created not through magic but a scientific process in a laboratory. According to Tropp, Victor is not responsible enough. When he discovers that his creature is horrible and would not give him the gratification he wanted, he wants to destroy it. However, the creature manages to understand its nature and the situation it is facing. “He is an adult, who has been rejected by his maker because he is horrible and therefore, he has no meaning and direction in life” (Shelley, p. 234). The creature discovers what truly makes a man by itself and struggles to identify with man and communicate with him. The creature wants to become a part of the normal society but does not manage. It is a story of someone who seeks a family or someone to identify with but does not get that chance. This passion is later turned into violence thus proving Godwin’s teachings that innate good can be transformed into evil by the narrowness and perversion by an immoral society. The creature, therefore, embarks on a terrible wave of vengeance because of the rejection it has suffered from society and its maker. The creature proves his point when it says “I am shunned and hated by all mankind and that is why I live a miserable life. This is why I am malicious. My creator wanted to tear me into pieces and I don’t see why I should pity man if he cannot pity me” (Shelley, p. 144). The creature asserts that it wanted to inspire love in society but is not given that chance because society rejects it even before discovering its internal qualities. Having denied the chance to inspire love, the creature decides to cause fear and revenge its injuries and miseries. The revenge is mostly directed to its creator. “And to you my creator, you are my biggest enemy and I swear that I hate you with an inextinguishable hatred. I will destroy you. I will desolate your inhuman heart until you curse the hour you were born (Shelley, p. 147).
The monster still has some human features, especially in behavior. This is evident when it was weeping after ranting about the poverty and the miserable conditions in which it was living in. The other features of humanity evident in this creature are exuding joy as it basks near the fireplace, expression of pain, and the appreciation of the aesthetics of nature. The monster is not nurtured by its creator, it is nurtured by nature which acquaints it with diverse skills to survive and the creature is very thankful to nature for the role it has played in its life. However, there are some acts of monstrosity in this creature but any keen reader will discover that the monster is innocent in its behavior because it had not been taught. It does not know how to make a distinction between right and wrong because it had been abandoned by its creator immediately after creation. This means that the monster is not responsible for its inhuman behavior and also its external horrific features that scare human beings.
Maurice Hindle in his book titled “The modern Prometheus illustrates the various acts of monstrosity in the novel that highlight the determination of the monster to hit back at the society that had rejected it. The biggest act of monstrosity comes in the middle chapters especially after the creature sees its ugly face in a mirror. The monster gets extremely angry after seeing all the scars on its face and decides to seek revenge upon its maker and had to leave the De Lacy family to pursue its revenge (Hindle, p. 49).
According to Hindle, the monster starts a journey that would help it locate Victor Frankenstein in determination to seek justice from the person responsible for everything that it had been going through. It is important to note that the author used shades of humanity to counter the monstrosity that is building up in the creature to indicate this creature was not an absolute monster and would have lived like a normal human being had it been given that chance by its creator. One of the best aspects of humanity comes immediately after the creature realizes that it had a hideous face that was not in any way human; when it saves a girl who had fallen in a stream (Tropp, p. 49). This showed that the monster had an interest in human life, had a human heart, and did not like to see people suffering. However, a man who saw the incident thought that the monster was harming the girl and aimed a gun at it. The monster was very angry with the man because it did not deserve to be rewarded this way after saving a life. This served to increase the monstrosity building within the creature but it is important to note that the creature is not responsible for its monstrous actions; the actions are motivated by people’s behavior towards it. Immediately after the incident with the gunman, the monster kills the child (Tropp, p. 51). Society heaps blame on the monster but the blame should have gone to Frankenstein because he is the one that created the monster without thinking about the implications of the life that he had created. The monster may have committed several heinous acts in the novel but the person responsible for these monstrous acts is Victor Frankenstein because he created a being, driven by selfish ambition. He wanted to receive glory from human folk for assuming a supernatural status. He did not put into consideration the impact of his creation.
Harold Bloom, in his book titled “The Works of Mary Shelley focuses on the biggest Irony in this book. The biggest irony is that people identify with the creature that is presented as horrible and inhuman and not the creator. The readers understand that the situation of the creature is brought about by the inhumanity and the irresponsibility of the creator. The novel, therefore, creates a strained relationship between a disgruntled creature and a disillusioned creator. The creature does not in any way deserve to be blamed for the violence and the hostility it extends towards society. Victor stands to blame because the creature is an extension of himself. Victor Frankenstein is thus the monster in this Mary Shelley novel. To start with, creating a monster was itself an act of monstrosity. Attempting to destroy it because he was horrified by the hideous nature of the creature was also monstrous. Failing to nurture his creature so that it can assume humane traits led the creature to behave like a monster and the person responsible for the monstrosity of this creature is the creator himself (Bloom, p. 78). The whole mayhem that is presented in this work of art stems from the decision of Victor Frankenstein to assume a Godly position being a creator meaning that he is the cause of all this conflict. Throughout the novel, the monitor is shown to be even more humane than its creator and this is an indication that the true monster was not the creature but Victor Frankenstein, who is later punished for his selfish actions. Had Victor Frankenstein the monster, the devastating acts of the monster would have been avoided. Still, had victor taken responsibility after creating the being, it would have developed into a normal human being.
In conclusion, Frankenstein animates the monster because it’s an extension of himself and as long as he tries to escape from his creature, he remains weak and impotent. The whole conflict in this novel is a result of a disgruntled creature that tries to confront its troubles, troubles caused by the person who created it. That is why the fury of the readers of this novel is directed towards Victor and not the creation he brought into existence.
- Bloom, Harold. The Works of Mary Shelley. New York: Chelsea House, 1988
- Hindle, Maurice. The modern Prometheus.NY: Penguin, 2003
- Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. London: Aerie Books, 1985.
- Tropp, Martin. Mary Shelley’s Monster. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.