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Frankenstein: How and Why Does Mary Shelley Create Sympathy For The Monster?

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Introduction

How and Why Does Mary Shelley Create Sympathy for the Monster? Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is a gothic novel set at the turn of the nineteenth century. It tells the story of natural philosopher, Victor Frankenstein, who discovers the secret of giving life to inanimate bodies. Armed with this knowledge, he infuses life into his own creation of a man. But, horrified by the awful appearance of what he has created, Victor immediately comes to detest and fear the "monster", and cruelly rejects him from the moment of his "birth". In some sections of the novel it is hard to feel sympathetic towards the monster as he wreaks his bitter revenge on mankind. However, as we learn more about him, we discover that he is a being that we can easily feel compassionate towards. The way that Shelley portrays the monster, through her use of language and structure within this novel, greatly furthers our sympathetic feelings towards him; in this essay I will explore how and why Shelley creates such sympathy for the monster. The way she structures her novel helps the reader to feel sympathy towards the monster in various ways. For example, she includes a narrative from his perspective. Up until this point in the novel, our only impressions of the monster are based on Frankenstein's opinion, whose strong feelings of hate towards him mean that his narrative describes the monster in a very negative way. ...read more.

Middle

This discovery of the monsters intelligence helps us to relate to him as he suddenly seems much more human. While Frankenstein greets his creation with hate filled insults such as "abhorred monster" and "wretched devil", as well as threats to "extinguish the spark which [he] so negligently bestowed"; the monster responds calmly, articulately and intelligently, showing wisdom far beyond what we had anticipated: "I expected this reaction... All men hate the wretched." Although life has been cruel to the monster he is still capable of being "mild and docile" to the very man that rejected him from birth. This raises the question within the reader as to who the real monster is. When the monster recounts the early memories of his life, he explains: "it was a long time before I could distinguish between the operations of my various senses." This helps us to sympathise with him as we view him similarly to a helpless new born child. By Shelley providing this knowledge of his innocence, it acts as evidence that he is not an evil creature, and started his life with no malicious intentions, which helps us to identify his motives which occur later in his narrative and drive him to commit his crimes. In his narrative the monster also tells us of the "friendship" he formed with the cottagers during his observation of them from his "hovel." ...read more.

Conclusion

He is immediately filled with remorse for his crimes and begs for Frankenstein's forgiveness: "Oh Frankenstein! Generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me?" The fact that the monster mourns his creator's death, after Frankenstein had shown him nothing but rejection and hatred, shows that the monster is a very compassionate creature. This helps us to feel that we can still sympathise with monster, despite his crimes, as it reassures us that it was the cruelty that life had dealt him which drove him to commit these murders. I think Shelley wanted us to realise that Frankenstein was not born evil; it was the brutal treatment he received by mankind that turned him to be bitter and resentful. Perhaps Shelley's intended to convey that society could have this same effect on anyone, and urge readers to think of the consequences that their actions could have on the lives of others. Or perhaps Shelley is simply urging us not to "judge a book by its cover", as the monster is judged solely on his appearance throughout the novel. More specifically, this could be aimed at scientists, like Frankenstein, warning them to think of the potential consequences of their work. Although Shelley's motive for this novel is unclear, evidently she intended for her novel to teach readers a lesson, and I feel the sympathy she creates for the monster helps us to appreciate the value of these lessons. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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