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The True Monster in Frankenstein - a Creature Misunderstood

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The True Monster in Frankenstein: A Creature Misunderstood

As Abraham Heschel once said, “Being human is difficult. Becoming human is a life-long process. To be truly human is a gift.” This quote represents the Creature’s journey of hardship and pain to gain acceptance from the human society in Frankenstein. Throughout her lifetime, Mary Shelley was surrounded by the tragic deaths of her family, children, and friends, some of which were indirectly caused by Shelley herself. These casualties greatly affected her emotional state and took part in Shelley’s ideas and overall message of Frankenstein. By comparing and contrasting Victor’s human appearance and isolated personality with the Creature’s monstrous looks and curious heart, Mary Shelley spreads a message of human nature and furthermore, shines light on the true protagonist of the novel.

Throughout the book, Mary Shelley contrasts Victor and the Creature’s personalities to highlight the qualities of being human. For example, the Creature wakes up in the world “frightened…, finding [him]selfdesolate [and] tormented by hunger and thirst (85).”  He “knew, and could distinguish nothing,” needing to wander in the world alone and learn through observations (92). The Creature begins metaphorically as a baby as he is only able to perceive light and shapes in the beginning, but he gradually learns how to walk, eat, drink, and eventually, how to speak and communicate. Although he is not created naturally, the Creature travels through the human ontogenetic metaphor in the story. Victor spends two years working on his creation, where he “neglects the scenes around [him],… forgets [his] friends,”  and “appear[s] rather like one doomed by slavery to toil (40).”  When he finally finishes his project, he “escap[es] [and takes] refuge” in the courtyard (43). Victor traps himself in his room for nearly two years, and doesn’t contact any of his friends or family, even when they write to him. He isolates himself by choice, away from any communication, just to finish his project. But even though he spent all this hard work on the Creature, when he finally succeeds in bringing him to life, he abandons his creation and leaves. Victor has little compassion towards any other human being or creature, as he does not communicate to any of his worried friends and family, and acts hostile towards his own creation. Also, his relationships and actions appear very unnatural. Victor only has one friend, he falls in love with his own adopted sister, and loathes his own creation in which he spent two years working upon. Humans are social and emotional creatures, but Victor hardly shows any emotions towards anything at all. In similarity, the Creature “[has] no relation or friend upon earth” and while trying to contact the DeLaceys, he is “full of fears, for if [he] fails, [he] is an outcast in the world forever (123).”  However, unlike Victor, who isolates himself on purpose, the Creature fervently desires a friend and a companion. But, the Creature has no choice as everyone runs away from him due to his ugly countenance.  The Creature desires the same things as normal humans do: love, compassion, and friends. But while he has the same longings and emotions as human beings, he is shunned by the society for his looks.

While the Creature appears physically monstrous, Shelley contrasts the Creature’s actions with Victor’s deeds to determine who the true monster is. Although by the end of the story, the Creature hates and slaughters humans, he is not monstrous by nature. For example, the Creature murders Elizabeth and “a grin was on [his] face” as he points his “fiendish finger towards the corpse of [Victor’s] wife” to mock and exact revenge on Victor (174). The Creature might seem evil through the murder of Victor’s family members, but he has a reason for doing so. Victor pushes the Creature into isolation repeatedly as he abandons him in the beginning and destroys the Creature’s one chance at happiness by dismembering his mate. The Creature murders Victor’s family members to exact revenge from his creator, but showing revenge is a very human trait as people chase after revenge from their enemies all the time. Also, killing another human does not make someone less human, as people murder their own kind all the time in wars and battles. Furthermore, the Creature initially admires the village and the people inside, but when he meets them, “the children shrieked,…the women fainted…[and] the whole village attacked [him]” with stones, and he doesn’t understand why until he “view[s] [him]self in a transparent pool…[and becomes] convinced that [he’s] in reality [a] monster” with his disfigured form (87)(94). Although the Creature later defines himself as a monster, he is not one by nature. He initially identifies himself as a human as he wanted to find his companions from the village. He didn’t realize there was something different about him until he was chased away. In fact, the Creature does not truly realize that he appears like a monster until he looks at himself in the puddle. Furthermore, the Creature initially admires the humans and thinks that they are perfect. In fact, the Creature saves a little girl from drowning in the river. He acted benevolently towards the humans, but in return, he gets attacked and rejected from the society. Isolated consistently by humans, the human society turned the Creature into a monster. As for Victor, he initially begins to build the Creature for the “glory [that] would attend the discovery,” and because “a new species would bless [him] as their creator” and “no father could claim the gratitude of his child… as [he] should deserve theirs (26)(38).” Victor makes the Creature solely because of the fame, power, and adoration that he would get from the Creation. He is selfish because he did not think of the consequences of his actions, he only thought of the possible benefits. The Creation could have caused mass destruction to the human race, as it is essentially an eight-foot tall giant.  Leaving his creation behind, Victor fails to become a good father or creator to the Creature. He acts irresponsibly, and does not consider the Creature’s feelings, growth, and future. Victor acts more monstrously than the Creature for abandoning his child and failing to think of the destructive consequences that his creation could have caused to the population. While the Creature may be physically a monster, Victor is more monstrous by his selfish and destructive actions.

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