“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?”(Shelley, 42)In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, who has spent two long years laboring in Ingolstadt to create this scientific marvel known only as “the monster,” wrongly assumes that his creation is pure evil.
Frankenstein reaches this conclusion without even allowing the monster to demonstrate his kind heart. Eventually, the monster goes on a mass killing spree because of Victor’s detrimental psychological neglect. Victor’s neglect is caused by his hatred of anyone who is unlike himself. Victor also disregards the monster’s right to a true name, only referring to him using despicable names, such as “wretch,” “thing,” and “catastrophe.
” Thus, the monster’s humane qualities, including compassion, loyalty, and intelligence contrast to the wretched traits of his creator, making the horrible references much more suitable for Victor.Unlike Victor, the monster shows great compassion despite his appalling appearance. For instance, he demonstrates his love for others during his time spent observing Felix and Agatha while in the village.
He wishes “to return to the cottagers, whose story excited in him such various feelings of indignation, delight, and wonder, but which all terminated in additional love and reverence for his protectors…” (106) Even though the monster had never actually met the De Lacey family, his ability to feel compassion is proven through his love of them only for their wonderful hearts and kind actions. In doing this, he shows more love for a family of strangers than Victor could ever have for his own family. He also demonstrates unconditional love for these “protectors” by not killing Felix during their fight.On the contrary, Victor shows a lack of compassion for his creation after the monster requested a female companion. In response to the monster’s patient, rational inquiry, Victor exclaims, “Shall I create another like yourself, whose joint wickedness might desolate the world. Begone!” (130) In this senseless refusal of a sincere request, Victor proves once and for all that his true feelings for the monster are those of unjustified hatred and scorn.
He has no basis for these feelings other than that of his undying prejudice against the monster. As a result of the opposing emotions illustrated by maker and creation, both are in constant conflict with each other and therefore can never live in harmony. Thus, the monster is very much unlike Frankenstein, the true “wretch.” Although he has committed a few heinous crimes, the monster feels extremely sincere feelings of regret towards his sins.
When looking back on his rash actions, he proclaims, “But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept and grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing.” (204) In making this bold realization, the monster confirms that he is truly regretful for what he has brought about.
Furthermore, he recognizes that not one of his victims has had the slightest inclination to harm him or any other being.While the monster demonstrates guilty emotions for his crimes, Victor instead feels anger toward his creation and does not take any responsibility nordemonstrate guilt for the deaths of his loved ones. Frankenstein instead lays all blame on the monster for the murders and seeks only revenge, not forgiveness. “My revenge is of no moment to you; yet, while I allow it to be a vice, I confess that it is the devouring and only passion…I have but one resource, and I devote myself, either in my life or death, to his destruction.
” (184) By dedicating the remainder of his existence to the annihilation of his own creation while in turn neglecting his responsibility to be with his family in this time of despair, Frankenstein dishonors the victims of his own negligence. Although Victor is right in believing that the monster was immoral in committing the murders, he fails to take his rightful share of the blame in the deaths of those close to him. The absence of remorse in Victor’s actions and the constant pleas for forgiveness given by the monster further verify Victor’s evil ways and the pure heart possessed by his creation.Yet another example of the monster’s humane qualities is his superior intellect and extraordinary level of self-awareness. In fact, he knows more about himself than Victor, who had studied the monster’s features for years in order to create him.
The monster teaches himself to hunt, read, and communicate without the proper maturation process, which Victor should have supplied in the first place. “This reading puzzled me extremely at first, but by degrees I discovered that he uttered many of the same sounds when he read as when he talked. I conjectured, therefore, that he found on the paper signs for speech which he understood…” (98) While observing De Lacey, the monster uses his powers of induction in order to teach himself to read and speak entirely from scratch.
It also becomes apparent that he has gained a superior understanding of written and spoken communication skills. Because he has shown his proficiency in mastering the French language, it becomes apparent that the monster is in possession of an intellect much more advanced than that of Victor.However, Victor refuses to accept that something that he has made with his own hands could be superior to him. Evidently attempting to threaten the monster, a being of superior physical strength, Victor cries out, “Devil, do you dare approach me? And do you not fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone vile insect! And, oh! That I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!” (83) The monster is obviously not fooled as Victor endeavors to establish some sort of advantage over a much more powerful entity. Victor simply will not allow himself to believe that he could be of a lesser stature than something so hideous. As a result of Victor’s feeble attempts to deny his inferiority to the monster, he becomes even more deserving of the abrasive titles which he thoughtlessly bestows upon his creation.In writing Frankenstein, Mary Shelly desired to show that it is possible for a man-made phenomenon to be more “human” than its creator.
In view of the abundant contrasts between Victor and the monster, this occurrence is undoubtedly present. Although Victor ignored his creation’s need for education, both morally and intellectually, the monster eventually surpassed him in both areas. Hence, the monster is simultaneously more human and superior to Victor, despite the fact that he was not created by nature.