(This is a painting by Caspar David Friedrich. It’s what I pictured during the final scene of this book when The Monster jumped from the cabin, floating away into the icy sea never to be seen again.This painting was created during the romantic era.)
As revealed by the title, this will be the last blog post I create. This book has been an adventure and a half, travelling back through the heart of romanticism, seeing the fear of enlightenment this era held, and doing so while tumbling through Victor Frankenstein’s story. The story of a curious, egocentric, dramatic,and privileged boy who learned how to create life and then did so without much thought to why or what consequences may arise. Tragedy is brought to everyone close to him because he didn’t know how to handle his creation, his own fear and shallowness sent him running from The Monster who just needed some guidance and love. The Monster was not brought to life evil, he was innocent and then turned into something evil “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend.” (Shelly 105). As you can see, i don’t think highly of Victor for the misery this creature felt was entirely his doing. Obvious parallel’s can be drawn between Prometheus and Victor, but I think the differences are more important. Prometheus stole from gods, went against them, to give knowledge and happiness to his creation. He suffered from his love of his creation. Victor suffered due to the hatred he felt for his. Prometheus is a god figure and hero, Victor is nothing more than a naive scientist.
This book portrays women in a way that no longer exists, in quite the same way. In the myth of Prometheus, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora, the first women. Not to add to Prometheus’s creation, but to bring misery to it, a woman was created to bring men misfortune. In the book The Sorrows of young Werther, the main character kills himself because of a woman, Lotte. Paradise Lost makes an obvious scapegoat of women, blaming them for literally everything wrong in the world. In the book, Elizabeth was a gift to Victor, a gift brought to him,”I have a pretty present for my Victor-tomorrow he shall have it.”(Shelley 32) the same way Eve was made from Adam’s rib to serve him, the same way the monster requests a female to be created for his own purposes. This ideology still is evident in our culture in media and even the way our language is shaped however the roles and rights of women have grown immensely. Still, in a lot of literature, myths and religions, it seems a woman does not exist if not for a man. Why would a female author who had one of the first feminists for a mother include this role of women in her novel? I question if the death of her mother due to her own birth influenced her opinion of women in general, or her own hardship and grief from miscarriages and child deaths. Did she feel that her creator abandoned her? Her life included: a dead mother, a step mother she hated, falling in love with a married man while a teenager, having her father not speak to her for a period of time because of it, her half sister committing suicide, her first born dying after a few days, and her lover’s wife committing suicide. This all happened before she published the book in 1818, it’s no wonder Victor’s own life is filled with tragedy and death, as it seems to be reflection of hers. Perhaps she blamed herself for many of the horrible things that happened in her life, without a monster to blame, she was both creator and creature.
Another thing I want to bring up is Victor’s reaction to the monster and his immediate abandonment was because of his appearance. The monster was his creation, his baby, his scientific break through, but one look on the face he deemed disgusting and Victor was out the door. When being asked to create a female monster his mind made a human of The Monster’s words, but his eyes a demon, “I compassionated him and sometimes felt a wish to console him, but when I looked upon him, when I saw the filthy mass that moved and talked, my heart sickened and my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred.” (Shelley 159). This quote also shows how materialistic and privileged Victor is, if he considered how The Monster has been forced to live, or that not everyone is as rich as he, maybe he wouldn’t have been so stuck on how he appears. One is not a monster for how they look, if someone were to call their boss a monster, it would be assumed they’re a horrible person, not just ugly. The Monster didn’t come to life evil, he came to life curious and shy, innocent. He educated himself, learned to speak and how the world works, then asked Victor for one favour, one simple favour to make up for his abandonment. Victor, as well as the cottagers and villagers only paid attention to his appearance, it did not matter that he could speak their language showing his intelligence as relatively high and showed emotion. This Monster was made from human parts, possessed a human mind, displayed conscious thoughts, morals, emotion, and pain, this monster was human. Throughout history appearances are crushingly important, even in today’s society you have an advantage if you’re attractive. Linked below is a TEDtalk I like by a man who was nearly abandoned by his own mother because of his face deformities, he emphasizes the significance and lack of significance in appearance and owning it.
I believe if The Monster had more resembled an average man, possibly an attractive one at that, this book wouldn’t have been bursting at the seams with murders and depressed characters.
Thank you for reading.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Penguin, 1992.