“What is a monster?” You may ask yourself. Many would say that the definition of a monster is something inhuman, someone or something that has no consideration, nor regard for life, nature or anything deemed good, something that is the visible embodiment of evil. But, more often than not the word monster can be used to describe a human. This brings us to the topic of this blog post. Who is the real monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein? Victor Frankenstein or his creature?
Most wouldn’t hesitate to label Victor’s creation as the monster in Frankenstein. After all it is this creature that murdered an innocent child and countless other souls. However, if you begin to look beyond what’s on the surface you will come to realize that what Victor’s creation began as was not a monster. Victor creation is referred to as a creature throughout the novel, However, the reader is constantly made aware of the compassion and caring qualities that the monster possesses. The only reason that the creature is even associated with this term is due to his monster like demeanor:
“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 luxuriance’s 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 60).
The health and survival of human babies is dependent on social interactions and ultimately this sort of eight-foot-tall, child-like, humanoid is deprived of the love and intimacy it needs to strive. The monster has no “relation or friend upon earth” (Shelley 147). Society rejects the monster before it even has time to show its true nature. This creature that Victor has created is forced to live a miserable life, constantly hankering for the companionship that it deserves. It’s Victor’s abandonment of essentially what is his child that sparks the horrendous events that take place in the novel. The monster’s actions are nothing but a reflection of his creator.
Victor is the one that should be labeled as the monster of Frankenstein. The only reason that Victor even created his monster was for his own personal gain and because of his unnatural obsession with being like God: “a new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. I might in process of time… renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption” (Shelley 52). Victor doesn’t take into account the consequences of his actions. He doesn’t value the life he will create, only what he will gain from his creations existence. Therefore, he abandons the monster as soon as he lays eyes on it in fear that people will find out what he has done. This cruel rejection is what will eventually lead to the great suffering of Victor and those close to him. Victor continues to withhold the truth about his monster even after the murder of William, costing Justine her life:
“Justine also was a girl of merit possessed qualities which promised to render her life happy: now all was to be obliterated in ignominious grave, and I was the cause!” (Shelley 66).
He believes he’s at fault because he created the creature not because he also withheld vital information. Unlike the monster, Victor was very fortunate and raised by kind and loving parents: “No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed. When I mingled with other families I distinctly discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted the development of filial love.” (Shelley 37). He had every opportunity to do good and instead he chose to do bad.
Victor Frankenstein choice to pick his own selfishness and ignorance for those who unconditionally loved him as well as his own creation make him Frankenstein’s true monster. In contrast, the monster just wanted to be loved and it was Victor’s abandonment that shaped who the creature became.
Written By: Eve Cornell