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Explore How and Why Mary Shelley Creates Sympathy for The Monster

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Introduction

How and Why Does Mary Shelley Create Sympathy for the Monster? Mary Shelley's gothic horror novel 'Frankenstein', tells the story of an ambitious university student named Victor Frankenstein, who discovers the secret of giving life to inanimate objects, and subsequently creates a monster by using parts of various dead bodies. Throughout the course of the novel, Frankenstein's monster commits a number of criminal acts, supposedly making it difficult for readers to sympathise with him. However, some of the monster's actions, the language that he uses, and the way in which the novel is structured, actually encourage the reader to sympathise with him. My intention is to explore how and why Mary Shelley creates sympathy for Frankenstein's monster. The first obvious instance of Shelley attempting to create sympathy for the monster comes at the moment of his "animation" or "birth". Appalled and unnerved by the living appearance of the monster, Frankenstein instantly rejects him: 'Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room'. This instant repudiation by Victor of his own 'being', could evoke pity from the readers as they know that the fact the monster has a repulsive appearance is no fault of his own. Following the initial shock of seeing the monster in an animated state, Victor retires to bed, but is woken by the monster holding up the curtain of his bed and supposedly reaching out to 'detain' him. However, due to the fact that this event is recounted during Victor's narrative, one gets the impression that Shelley has purposefully ...read more.

Middle

By the fact that the monster, even after man has treated him so barbarically, still finds compassion for these 'lovely creatures', simply by watching them go about their day to day routine, Shelley is trying to convey to the reader the sense that the monster is in fact a kind and forgiving being, thus gaining their sympathy even more. It is even suggested that the monster falls in love with the young woman - 'the gentle manners of the girl enticed my love'. The fact that the monster shows such compassion must also have been a way in which Shelley would hope to gain reader sympathy for him, especially because of the fact the woman would, in reality, be terrified by him. During his period of observation, the monster learns many things about the cottagers, including their language, routine, and the fact that they are actually incredibly impoverished. It is also during this period that he first see's himself, as he catches sight of his reflection in a 'transparent pool'. Among the words the monster uses to describe his feelings when he first sees himself are: 'terrified', 'despondence' and 'mortification'. This event, and the language in which he describes it, conveys his feelings of despair at the fact that he now realises why people hate and fear him. This gains much sympathy from the reader as they empathise with him, and pity the fact that he cannot change these things about himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

I feel that Shelley thought it important for the reader to realise, that all the hate that the monster has gained for mankind throughout the novel, was all taught to him by man, and man's treatment of him. Every innocent venture in which he set about was always made into a negative experience by man's unfair and judgemental views of him. Shelley is perhaps conveying through the novel, the message that the monster was not born an evil being, but it was mankind that made him a devil, causing him much physical and mental pain, thus turning him into the monster that he became. Another of Shelley's motives for writing the novel, may have been for it to serve as a warning to those scientists who were unconcerned by the potentially dangerous consequences of their work, thus explaining her reasons for wanting the reader to feel sympathy for the monster, rather than the natural philosopher, Victor Frankenstein. This would certainly explain the use of Robert Walton, as he turns around his ship at the end of the novel, after he realises that the voyage he is embarking on, is dangerous for himself and his men. One more possible motive may have been to teach people the very old, yet nevertheless important lesson, of not "judging a book by its cover" as throughout the novel, the monster is judged solely by his appearance. In conclusion, 'Frankenstein' is a novel that holds incredibly relevant lessons for modern and 19th century readers alike. Mary Shelley obviously wanted to create sympathy for the monster and I believe she does so well. ?? ?? ?? ?? Alexandra Bowe ...read more.

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