Monsters of Our Own Making


“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
-Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Frankenstein’s monster is arguably the most iconic emblem of horror, as he has been depicted in various books, movies, tales, TV shows, and more. His appearance seems to have changed from film to film, but there are some key features that are always present: a square head, an oblong forehead, stitches on the face, bolts in the neck, and green skin. It just so happens that most of these characteristics do not appear in Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein. According to Mary Shelley, the Creature has “yellow skin scarcely covering the work of muscles and arteries beneath; lustrous and flowing black hair, pearly white teeth, and watery eyes ” (Shelley 58). Our version of Frankenstein has changed a-lot over the years and although Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein was brought to life over 200 years ago, it still continues to haunt us. The monster in her story emulates the monsters that we face today.

When I say monsters, I do not mean the ones we feared that were under our bed as children, but the daunting issues that humanity has conceived. A global issue is a word that we use to describe a social, political, economic, or environmental problem with catastrophic effects on the world. When I submersed myself into Frankenstein, I connected the dots between this classic tale and the problems that are shaping the world as we know it. If you look at the big picture, Victor can be seen as society and the Creature as global issues.  I specifically connected this idea with climate change. Victor created the Creature, just as society has created global warming. Victor neglects his creation, just as society is also neglecting global warming. When Victor finally realizes what he has done and he finds enough courage to face his consequences, it is too late. The Creature is “fearless, and therefore powerful”; he is superior in all aspects (Shelley 62). The Creature is extremely intelligent, he dose not get tired, and he survives on little food, making it strenuous for Victor to chase him. The Creature kills Victor’s friends and family and eventually derails him. The Creature ruins his life. Society has allowed global warming to go on for too long- just as Victor did- and now we are seeing the catastrophic effects on our own lives.  Greenhouse gas emissions are rising, causing the global temperature to rise, causing irreversible consequences to our climate. No intelligent species would destroy their own habitat. So why has it gone this far?

Victor Frankenstein had an unfortunate fate. Does that mean Mary Shelley predicts that humanity will have the same destiny? Are we a carbon-copy of her work?

Our image of “the monster” may have changed over the years, but the story he represents is still pertinent to our lives. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a cautionary tale and it is giving us the chance to fix our mistakes before it is too late. Thanks to many programs such as The Sustainable Development Goals for brining awareness to our global issues; we are already seeing a brighter future. We do not have to end as Victor did. That is why Mary Shelley’s story is so much bigger then the pages which it is written upon. We must fess up to our mistakes and work together to fix them. One person can make a difference; together we can change the world.

 

Works Cited

“Monster | Definition of Monster in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/monster.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Penguin Publishing Group, 2013.

“Sustainable Development Goals .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” United Nations, United Nations, sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300.

Images

“Free Image on Pixabay – Arctic, Sea, Water, Ice, Floating.” Family Love Rainbow · Free Vector Graphic on Pixabay, pixabay.com/en/arctic-sea-water-ice-floating-983917/.

Frankenstein’s Good Samaritan


“The most important human endeavour is the striving for morality in our actions.”

-Albert Einstein

Henry Clerval:

He just may be the only thing keeping Victor Frankenstein from becoming a monster himself.  Although there doesn’t seem to be an obvious antagonist in this story, it seems to me that Victor “antagonizes” his own story. Henry salvages Victor’s life by bringing him back to reality and “calling forth the better feelings of his heart”(Shelley 72). Victor is not a mean person, but he is selfish. He is the sole reason that the Monster is alive, and he takes no extreme measures to try and stop it, even though it is killing his friends and family members. Can you imagine creating something that defies all laws of nature and allow it to kill your family? As a sane person, this seems insane!This is where Henry comes in and adds some benevolence to the story. I don’t think it’s far fetched to say that Mr. Frankenstein is a little bit deranged, and Henry comes in and helps him gain back his sanity. Reflecting back, after Victor creates the Monster, he is relieved to see Henry. Upon seeing him, Victor states, “I grasped his hand, and in a moment forgot my horror and misfortune; I felt suddenly, and for the first time during many months, calm and serene joy” (Shelley 37). One could say that Henry serves as a breath of fresh air for Victor. I would say that Henry is his “knight in shining armour”. Imagine if the tables were turned though… imagine if Henry had fallen ill. Do you think Victor would have dedicated a year of his life to Henry?

Since Henry was first introduced, I have grown quite fond of him. He has passion for his studies, his is compassionate, kind, and an all around nice person. Henry is someone who I can relate to, he is someone who helps me feel the emotion of the story.  Through all of the complex vocabulary used in the novel, Henry seems to pull me back into the reality of the story. He does the same for Victor, when he is distressed. Henry may not have a major role in the story, but he is a character that I wish I could have as a friend, someone who I aspire to be.

Furthermore, during the grim tale of Frankenstein and his ambition gone wrong, Henry seems to makes Victor’s qualities more apparent. In literary term this would be called a foil character. Victor describes Henry as being ” perfectly human, so thoughtful in his generosity, so full of kindness and tenderness amidst his passion”, which to me seems to be the exact opposite of Victor ( Shelley 23) . Henry’s contrast draws attention to Victor’s personality and highlights the differences between the two childhood friends. As Victor sinks deeper into depression, Henry seems to flourish with life. Clerval and Frankenstein both have ambition to be the best in their fields, but their differences accentuate Frankenstein’s wrongdoings. Henry has no interest in science, and merely wants to fulfill his life with the “moral relations of things”, which essentially means he wants to be a good person (Shelley 20). Victor, on the other hand is devoted to science and has a God complex. Because of such opposing personalities, it brought my attention to how important Henry is to Victor’s life. The etymology of the term foil comes from the practice of backing gems with foil to make them shine more brightly.  This idea effectively worked on me and allowed me to look deeper into Frankenstein . Then again, because of all of Victor’s selfish acts, it brought my attention to “the foil” behind the gem (Victor Frankenstein) and his importance.

https://literarydevices.net/foil/

The reward of taming ambition and working on one’s moral character is seen by the success of Clerval and his enjoyment of life while Frankenstein continues to stagger in his own misery. In light of all of Henry’s good deeds and his opposing characteristics to those of Victor, to me it seems that Henry Clerval is Victor’s “Good Samaritan”, which is “a person who gratuitously gives help or sympathy to those in distress” (Dictonary.com). Despite the fact that he shows up little in Frankenstein, he as an immense role in Victor’s life, Hence the title.

 

Works Cited

“A Quote from Albert Einstein.” Goodreads, Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/quotes/287852-the-most-important-human-endeavor-is-the-striving-for-morality.

Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/good-samaritan.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Penguin Publishing Group, 2013.

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