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After reading the first eight chapters of the creative gothic novel Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley, I was overwhelmed with mixed emotions. I greatly despised the main character Victor Frankenstein, but at times I felt sympathetic for his loneliness. Throughout the chapters the themes of neglect and ethics appeared. I questioned these themes and tried to put myself into the shoes of the main characters and here is why….
Victor Frankenstein was raised in a loving family, with an outstanding education, and the ability to create life from a motionless being. So, my first question was “why did Frankenstein create this being?” Later I discovered the answer to this question, Frankenstein had expressed “feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me to also forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I had not seen for so longtime”, I believe his creation was persuaded by the loneliness he felt after moving away from home (Shelley 55). Now ask yourself, “would you create a living being if you were isolated, neglected and lonely?” In my opinion, I would never create a life form from an artificial being, even if I had the ability to do so. Such a creation of your own is a huge responsibility, which Frankenstein greatly lacked. Later he faced the consequences of this matter. Every living human being created abnormally or not, is equipped with thoughts, feelings and emotions, learned from parenting. Frankenstein feared his creation and neglected the being; therefore, the monster was unable to be aware of morals and natural human activity. Frankenstein was not prepared to take care of his “child”, which leads me to my next question…
Is the creation of the monster ethical?
The easy answer to this question is no, the creation of the monster is not ethical. Look at it this way, in a modern-day world, if a human being gave birth to a child and immediately neglected the child, how would you feel? I know that each and every person reading this is thinking that those parents were irresponsible, unloving and unwilling to accept the responsibility to care for the child. They were also most likely scared of the new challenge they were faced with. The same applies in Frankenstein. If Frankenstein was not ready to take on the responsibility of a living being, why had he created one? A living being needs to be taken care of, therefore this was unfairly ethical towards the monster.
Then, I asked myself, how would the monster feel?
I felt very sympathetic for the monster and the way he was seen by others. In fact, I believe referring to this creature as a monster is unfair. The creature Frankenstein created was never born a monster, he became monster. The actions and physical features of the creature can only be fearsome and hair-raising because of the work of Frankenstein himself. The monster was not asked to be created this way nor can he change the way he looks, just like you and me. We all look different and act different because of the way we were born, and the way we were raised. You and I aren’t referred to as monsters, so why should the living creature? This thought reminded me of the very common debate of whether the actions of a human being are determined by “nature or nurture”. In my opinion, the creature is an example of nurture, or the lack of it. His actions were not instructed by nature or the genes he had but rather, his actions were a result of not having a nurturing parenting figure. He did not learn the rights and wrongs of the world. In society it is easy to learn from evil and bad influences if there is no one to tell you or teach you that it is wrong to act so violently. The monster was treated poorly and from the perspective of the author I was able to gain sympathy for the creature.
My final question is, after the crime the creature committed, is it fair to punish him or not?
Although the creature has not been revealed as the murderer, Frankenstein knows that the creature is the one at fault. In all fairness the creature cannot be blamed. The monster did not ask to be neglected nor did he learn how to act properly. Personally, I think Frankenstein is the person at fault; and therefore, proves why he is afraid to tell others that he created this being. He understands that his actions have caused him to take responsibility for the violent murder. I believe that Frankenstein should not have created this being if he was going to neglect the monster and run from his responsibility. In my opinion, a person as selfish as Frankenstein should be punished, not the innocent monster. A living being is more than just a science experiment.
So, answer this for me, if Victor Frankenstein had stayed and taken care of the monster, and acted as a “motherly figure”, would the themes of ethics and neglect be relevant in this story? And how would this change the end of the novel?
Citation: Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, the modern Prometheus. New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2013. 29 April 2019.