1Wendy Jo AllmonEnglish Literature IIDr. Linda SchmidtLiterary Research Paper20 April 1999The Opposite of AdamMary Shelleys Frankenstein is a timeless tale that even today teaches the value ofgood parenting. Though it is not directly a manual for child care, it is better than some ofour more modern depictions on how and why children malform (Patterson np). It is abelief that little separation or away time between a child and a parent during the firstyears are imperative for security (Henderson np) and that parents are responsible forpreparing their child for a world that requires responsibility and maturity for survival(Foster and Cline np).
Children need emotional nourishment, which includes attention,understanding, praise, inclusion, validation, structure, and modeling (Reuther np). Theobligations and responsibilities of parents or parental figures weigh very heavily,especially when we consider the fate of the monster and the monster-like man whocreated him (Patterson np). Although not naturally, Victor Frankenstein gives birth to aliving being, which makes him the parent and therefore responsible for its welfare. Hedoesnt take any responsibility or provide any of the things a parent should to their child.
The newly created creature (as I prefer to call him) is like a newborn infant. Heexperiences the initial shock of being and has to adjust to the bright light and harshsounds as if just emerging from the womb. After his creator rejects him, he looks forcompanionship with the moon, but when that proves unsatisfactory, he looks for love incivilization. Because of his lack of parental love and guidance, because of his rejection Allmon 2from society, this creature becomes a monster (Patterson np). According to the RandomHouse Websters College Dictionary, a monster is a person who excites horror bywickedness, cruelty, etc. (850). This being was not wicked or cruel when it was firstcreated, but only became so after being rejected by first Victor Frankenstein and then bythe rest of society.
In doing studies of serial killers, experts have found that many wereemotionally abused by parents or other care givers. When a child doesnt bond with itscaretaker, there are no foundations for trust, which can lead to isolation and violentfantasies. Since they havent developed human compassion, humans become symbols thatthey use to act out these fantasies. One of the first places our society looks to for anexplanation is the serial killers upbringing (Scott np). Part of a childs upbringing begins even before the child is born. Parents havechildren for various reasons, but none for the reason Victor Frankenstein created hischild.
Frankenstein, to whom the project of discovering the secrets of life and of makinguse of them to manufacture a man had seemed the consummation of science and aninestimable benefit for humanity (Johnson 259), decides to create a living being. Ibelieve, however, the true reason he decides to do this is only because it was thought thatit couldnt be done, and to do so would feed his overactive ego. The world was to me asecret which I desired to divine.
Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws ofnature, gladness akin to rapture, as they are unfolded to me, are among the earliestsensations I can remember (Shelley 30). He wants a godlike stature, The raising ofghosts or devils…the fulfillment of which I most eagerly sought (Shelley 33).
So, hestudies and experiments until he has everything planned out to where he is sure it willwork. Unfortunately, there is one detail which the creator had not foreseen: his ownreaction to the creature (Johnson 259).When he sees the yellowish eye of the one he had constructed and animated withso much effort open, Frankenstein is seized with horror and flees the laboratory, Allmon 3abandoning the giant newborn to his fate (Johnson 259). If a woman gave birth to acreature as hideous as this, she too would be horrified, but would ultimately overcome herfear out of love for her child. Frankenstein, however, should have been prepared for thehideousness, as it was he who built his child.
Initial shock of his experiment actuallyworking would have been understandable, but not shock over the beings appearance asthe appearance was his own doing. He could have taken more care in the design.Frankenstein apparently didnt care from the beginning or he would not have given hiscreation an unrealistically large frame or so sloppily sutured the various parts together.
The being is merely a construction of random corpses bodily parts sewn together andbrought to life (Knorr 1/3). Of course he was hideous, but it isnt until after his birththat Victor said, A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as thatwretch (Shelley 49). Another thing that Frankenstein didnt think about was the fact that this creature,as any child, would learn by example.
Children mimic their parents; this is how they learnto walk, talk, and eat. When Victor destroys the bride intended for the monster, hereplies with mimetic violence: Frankensteins bride must be destroyed on their weddingnight (Cantor 99). Frankenstein did agree to make the creature a mate of his ownspecies, but when he destroyed it, with the creature witnessing it, what could he expectexcept retribution? Frankenstein hadnt thought about the fact that this child of hiswould one day grow up and desire a mate. There was no one that could even stand thesight of the monster, let alone fall in love with him. The only hope he had of love andunderstanding would come from a being of his own kind. The creature even toldFrankenstein that if he would only create a mate for him, he would leave civilization andwreak no more havoc on mankind.
Frankenstein, however, continues to be the selfishparent that he is, and refuses this request. Eventually he does agree, but backs out on Allmon 4his promise. If Frankenstein wanted to play God, he should have been prepared to followthrough the whole process and created an Eve for his Adam.In comparing Frankensteins creation to Gods creation of Adam, we do seesimilarities. Both are a first of their kind. Both are alone. Unfortunately, that is where thesimilarities end.
Adam was not created as a result of an experiment. He was created out oflove. Adam was not merely a combination of others body parts sloppily put together in ahorrific manner, but was created in Gods own image. Victor rejects his creation from thestart, but Adam is loved and bestowed with a beautiful garden in which to live.
It is truethat Adam is ejected from this garden, but it is only after he committed sin. Even afterthis he is still not deserted, God still loves, protects, and parents him. God even providesAdam with a mate, the same thing the creature yearns for, but is never given (Natale 2/5).The creature recognizes his plight, Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thyAdam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed(Shelley 85). He has read the book Paradise Lost, which tells the story of creation verysimilar to what is written in the Holy Bible. Like Adam I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect.He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy andprosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed toconverse with and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature, butI was wretched, helpless, and alone.
Many times I considered Satan as thefitter emblem of my condition, for often, like him, when I viewed the blissof my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me (Shelley 112).He knows he has been cheated and once again compares himself to Adam. Accursedcreator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? Allmon 5God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image, but my form is afilthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance (Shelley 112).We cannot blame only the creatures creator. There is a saying that it takes avillage to raise a child, in this case it has taken a village to destroy a child and turn thatchild into a monster.
The first person he encounters after leaving the laboratory is a manin a hut. He approaches this hut in search of food with no malice intended. He turned onhearing a noise and, perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and, quitting the hut, ran… (Shelley90). He then enters a village.
…I had hardly placed my foot within the door, before thechildren shrieked and one of the women fainted.
The whole village was roused. Somefled, some attacked me (Shelley 91). He, of course, flees.
Just as society fears thecreature, the creature fears society. The only difference is that the being has a reason tofear society; it attacked him (Knorr 1/3). Even now, however, he is still a gentle andloving being.
When he happens upon the De Lacey family his faith in mankind issomewhat renewed. When they the cottagers should become acquainted with myadmiration of their virtues, they would compassionate me, and overlook my personaldeformity (qtd. in Knorr 2/3). He sees them as superior beings , who would be thearbiters of my future destiny and that he would win their favor, and afterwards theirlove (Shelley 99). While he waits for the opportune time to display himself, he uses theDe Lacys to educate himself, learning to read and speak.
He even helps the family bysupplying them with firewood so that Felix can spend more time with his family. Whenhe does finally reveal himself to the old blind man, and begins to get the acceptance hedeserves, he is attacked as Felix dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with astick. I could have torn him limb from limb, as the lion rends the antelope.
But my heartsunk within me as with bitter sickness and I refrained (Shelley 116). The being couldhave killed Felix, with good reason, yet he did not. Even after all of this he is still goodand tries to rescue a child that is drowning. For the effort, he is shot. He was indeed a Allmon 6good and noble creature before his experiences with man. At this point, the being cannotavoid a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When the being is punished for committing noble acts,why should he continue to repeat them? (Knorr 2/3). He realizes that doing good iscausing him more pain and suffering than if he were to do evil. He questions the idea ofdoing good when man is still going to reject and fear him.
Because of his inability tobefriend man, at least by doing evil, the monster will be able to attain satisfaction bydestroying the one who has placed him in these unalterable circumstances. At least thenthe monster will deserve his mistreatment (Knorr 2/3). Even after this he tries one moretime to befriend someone, a boy, since he figures the boy too young to have developedprejudices. He tells the boy that he means no harm, yet the child yells Let mego..
.Monster! Ugly Wretch! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre(Shelley 122). Then he discovers the boy is a relation of his creator and he snaps.
Hestrangles the boy. Then he frames another for the murder and she too dies. He has becomewhat society has accused him of being all along. (Knorr 2/3). He does not want to be evil,but as he says if I cannot inspire love , I will cause fear (Shelley 125) and if I have noties and affections, hatred and vice must be my portion (Shelley 126). It is his rejectionthat has made him a monster, first by Frankenstein then by society. I am maliciousbecause I am miserable.
Am I not shunned by mankind? (Shelley 125).Some would disagree with my assessments that this creature was made a monsterby his creator and by society. Some would say that he was born evil.
True, that would beone theory. To those that believe that, however, I offer the tabula rasa or blank tablettheory, John Lockes epistemological concept. According to Locke, all of our ideas arederived from experience (qtd. in Solomon 153) and that man is neither innately good orevil, but rather a blank slate upon which sensations create impressions which createconscious experience (Natale 2/5). He learns, as an infant would, sensations such as Allmon 7heat, cold, hunger, light, and dark through experiencing them. He then learns to use themto care for himself. These things were not implanted in him, rather he learned them through experience (Natale 3/5).
Initially, when he first encounters society, he is open tothe new experiences. Then he is treated with hatred and cruelty. Therefore, the hate andcruelty that he bestows on mankind must have been learned. This same concept is obvious in the film version called Mary ShelleysFrankenstein. Other than that and a few other important similarities, the two are verydifferent. The film is directed by Kenneth Branaugh (who also plays VictorFrankenstein)and it seems that Branaugh missed the depth of Shelleys story in hisdepiction of the monster.
It seemed that the Branaugh creature wasnt as conscious of hisabandonment as in the book (Wiebe np). The creature in the movie was more concernedwith the fact that he was created than the fact that he was abandoned, the main premise inthe book. The abandonment isnt as obvious in the movie since Frankenstein believes thatthe creature dies in a cholera epidemic. Also in the movie, Frankenstein creates a mate forthe monster out of his murdered wife (who commits suicide), which is contradictory ofFrankensteins repulsion to creating another creature in the book (Wiebe np).
There aremany other contradictions, such as the differences in the Clerval characters. In the bookClerval is a friend he has known since childhood, but in the movie they meet at school,which somehow diminishes the extent of their friendship. The inspiration of creating lifecomes from a teacher in the movie, as well as the formulas to do so, but in the bookVictor is the only genius behind it. Elizabeths character is also quite different in themovie, she is a stronger woman and tries to bring him home from school when she knowshe is up to something. The book has her sitting idly by waiting for his return with her onlyfear being that he might want to marry someone else. I believe the main difference,however, to be that the book is to make the reader care about the characters and apply Allmon 8what we learn from it to real life and the movie is more about violence and terror only tofrighten the viewer, but not to make him think (Wiebe np).
Without even taking the movie into consideration, if one reads the novel, one cansee that this creature was indeed an innocent victim. He was not violent when he was firstcreated, but after being neglected and rejected by his parent, Victor Frankenstein, beingabhorred by society, and being denied the one thing he truly wanted–a mate, this is whenhe became a monster. He was but a blank tablet and the rest of the world is what turnedhim bad. Most of the blame does belong with his creator, however, since he was the onethat was ultimately responsible for him. Frankenstein was playing God and a parent, andhe failed on both accounts. The creature was feared and loathed and thought of as amonster, but I believe the true monster was his bad parent, Victor Frankenstein.