Hey guys! I am now more than halfway through the novel Frankenstein and today I am going to be reflecting on chapters 8-16. In these chapters the reader becomes even more disgusted by Victor. Now I know what your thinking, how is it humanly possible to hate Victor more than you already do? Just trust me, any human decency or pity you may have felt for Victor before these chapters will be abolished after reading them. Victor just can’t seem to get anything right. The second interesting thing about these chapters is that for the first time the reader is able to see the story through the eyes of the monster. We are given the unique ability to experience the monsters feelings along with him and are able to see first-hand the outcome of Victor’s poor parenting skills on the monster. Today, I will be discussing Victor’s abandonment but more specifically I will be focusing on the topic of poor parenting in Frankenstein, as well the negative affects that come along with it.
Firstly, in the novel, chapters 8 and 9 discuss Victor’s retreat. After Justine is executed Victor’s overwhelming amount of guilt consumes him but rather than finally coming clean about his creation and claiming responsibility for Justine’s death he continues to pretend he had nothing to do with it. He weeps for Justine – the woman whom he caused to plummet to her untimely death. He presents himself to the reader as if he himself is the victim and retreats to the mountains to recover. This part of the novel is what really made the last bits of human decency I had for Victor vanish. Victor chose to leave his family at a time when they needed him the most. Elizabeth and Victor’s father were still mourning over the loss of William and the loss of Justine, whom they perceived to be innocent which made it even worse. But rather than helping his family weep over the losses he had caused Victor just fled. Abandoning his family and leaving the monster, who at this point had already been deemed dangerous, to continually roam the village on his own. Thus, proving to the reader that Victor has not whatsoever learned from his mistakes and that he just continually causes more havoc. If Victor had come clean about the monster, provided a fostering relationship, and taught the monster the necessary difference between right and wrong, he could’ve ensured the safety of everyone, he also could’ve restored his long absence to his family by helping them weep. In this ideal situation Victor could’ve introduced his family to the monster, given his creation a name and for the first time made the lonesome monster feel loved. But instead he abandoned him and his family, ran off into the mountains, and gave up his chance to right a wrong.
This brings me to the point of bad-parenting. In Frankenstein, several very important themes and main ideas have already been illustrated but the one the stands out the most to me, especially in these chapters is bad parenting and the effects that it can have on the child. In the novel, Victor abandons his creation, his “child” and just leaves the monster to discover the extremities of the world all on his own. It is in reality, just as I talked about in my last blog the same as abandoning a newborn baby in the streets and leaving them to navigate through society and survival all on their own. The result of this is a child who must create their own morals, a child who relies on only their own personal knowledge and the knowledge of what they see of strangers. It also leads to a child who really doesn’t know how to properly express themselves. In Frankenstein, the effect of Victors bad parenting – which you can’t even really call parenting, it was really more just total abandonment results in the monster having no concept of the effect of his actions, having no understanding of morals, unknowing how to communicate with others and completely relying on the De Lacey family to teach him the human ways and language. In the novel the monster is lucky enough to stumble across the De Lacey family – a kind, caring family that the monster is able to learn from. He studies the family for months and is able to increasingly become more and more knowledgeable as well as learn the human language. But could you imagine if the monster had chosen to study another family, a family that maybe wasn’t kind towards one another or had eccentric morals and beliefs? If the monster had chosen a family that wasn’t role model material the effects would have been disastrous. The monster would have most-likely still studied the family but would’ve learned all the wrong things. For example, if the monster had stumbled across a family of say serial killers, the monster would’ve just believed that murdering others was the right thing to do because he just wouldn’t have known any better. The mind of the monster was in reality a blank canvas waiting to be filled in by learning from those around him. The De Lacey family painted this picture for the monster and lucky enough for him it was a pretty picture. If the picture had not been so pretty (the family not so perfect) the beliefs of the monster would’ve been altered. The most vulnerable period of a child’s life is their younger years. The things they learn from those around them, the things they believe to be true and important shape the people that they become. Children learn by example and when there is no example they must willy nilly formulate their own opinions and hope that they are the right ones. One quote that exemplifies this, is the famous saying from Bob Keeshan – a famous american television producer and actor who specialized in the making of children’s TV shows. Bob Keeshan is also a published author and is best known for his novel, “Growing Up Happy”. Bob Keeshan unfortunately passed away in 2004 however, his words still live on today.
“Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.” (Bob Keeshan)
This quote really demonstrates the importance of parenting in a child’s life. Children do infact believe everything their parent says and in most cases look up to their parents, wanting to mimic every little aspect of their lives. However, in the monster’s case he was abandoned and hated upon by all those around him especially Victor, his creator and at the least the one person who should’ve loved him. Any child who is looked upon with only hatred, and treated as if they are nothing but a wretched being will become a wretched being.
Another quote that models this situation, the situation of the monster’s life and Victor’s poor parenting was said by Jean Liedloff. Liedloff was an American author best known for her novel “the Continuum Concept”, a non-fiction novel that was written to educate parents, parents-to-be, and anyone who cares about the well-being of their child. “The Continuum Concept” is the theory coined in this novel by Liedloff. The theory analyzes the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings (especially babies) require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution. One of Jean Liedloff’s most famous quotes said in her non-fiction novel is:
“Nobody’s born rotten. You just don’t have bad kids. It’s not true. There is no such thing. But we can make them bad.” (Jean Liedloff)
This quote represents the case of the monster perfectly. He was not created evil but due the the world and the atmosphere around him the world has made him evil.
Even though the monster was shunned by society and by his creator. He still at first managed to find good in the world. The De Lacey family to him was a fresh start. The thought of becoming accepted into their family is what gave the monster reason to live. He thought that for once in his life he could be apart of something special and focused all of his time and energy on gaining enough knowledge to win this family over. He studied from afar their every move, listened intently to their every word and each member of this family became his new role models. They were his last hope to integrating into society. Unfortunately, after months of preparing when he finally found the courage to confront and win over his “new friends” he was looked upon just as he had been by Victor and everybody else. He was seen as merely a beast, a vile creature that invaded the safety of the De Lacey family. The monster was crushed. For nearly a year he had longed to be apart of this family but they too rejected him just as everyone else had. I believe that this was the turning point for the monster it is what lead to his untimely rage, and the hatred of all human beings. He had only longed to be loved but after being rejected by everyone, even his creator and role models (the De Lacey family) he changed his views on the world and decided that rather than focusing on the love he couldn’t have he would bring hatred to all.
“From that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.” (Shelley 147)
This quote said by the monster demonstrates his rage and frustration with the human race.
The monster was not born evil, no one is born evil. However, badparenting, faulty role models and the rejection of society can cause any kind-hearted soul to become something evil. When they are merely living up to their expectations this shift is not so difficult. I desperately hope that the monster reconsiders his hateful mentality and proves to all those around him that he is knowledgeable and capable of living alongside everyone else. Unfortunately, if he does not quit his evil ways I fear for Victor’s demise and the safety of all of his loved ones. I cannot wait to read more and discover the ending of this spine-tingling novel. Stay tuned for more updates. 🙂
“Bob Keeshan Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2005-Fo-La/Keeshan-Bob.html.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. Penguin Publishing Group, 2013.
“TheLiedloffContinuumNetwork.” The Liedloff Continuum Network – Home Page, www.continuum-concept.org/.