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Sympathy for the Devil? How does Mary Shelley persuade the reader to pity Frankensteins Creature?

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Introduction

"Sympathy for the Devil?" How does Mary Shelley persuade the reader to pity Frankenstein's Creature? Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818. At that time, the Gothic Horror genre was becoming increasingly popular. The Gothic Horror genre combined the genres of horror and romance and is often associated with dark castles, murder and monsters. The idea for the novel came about during a dream while Shelley and her husband Percy were staying with Lord Byron. She then used that dream as a basis for a story for a ghost story competition. At the time, the Industrial Revolution was occurring and science was being developed. Scientists carried out experiments with electricity, trying to bring frogs back to life. Shelley visited an alchemist's castle in the Rock of Franks where she was inspired by the alchemy. Two of Shelley's daughters had died which influenced her to make the novel about life and death. She would relate to Frankenstein in the novel as members of both their families die young when it is not their fault. She was brought up with writers as her parents wrote about politics and society and her husband Percy Shelley and friend Lord Byron were both romantic poets. The main themes explored in the novel are creation, rejection, jealousy, power and misuse of it, revenge and responsibility. Creation because of Frankenstein's desire to create a form of life, rejection as the creature is rejected by Frankenstein and all of society, jealousy as the creature is jealous of Frankenstein as he has a family, misuse of power because Frankenstein misused the power he had to create the creature by abandoning him, revenge as the creature wants to get revenge on Frankenstein for what has happened to him, and responsibility because it seems that Frankenstein is responsible for everything that the monster does. A film of the novel, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was released in 1994. ...read more.

Middle

The creature bullies Frankenstein into making him a female companion. "...if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear; I will work at your destruction." This makes the creature seem manipulative, controlling and evil. It also makes you feel sympathy for Frankenstein as he is being forced to do something he doesn't want and something that could have a lot of consequences if it goes wrong. The creature drives Frankenstein to his death after Elizabeth and Clerval are both killed. "...I devote myself, either in my life or death, to his destruction." This shows that Frankenstein has just about given up on life after the deaths of all his friends and family, and only cares about destroying the creature, not if he lives or dies. However, all of these parts of the novel are written from Frankenstein's perspective, so there is nothing in the text that will allow you to sympathise with the creature. This affects your opinion of the creature because his monstrous characteristics are highlighted to a great extent. Other parts of the novel make you sympathise with the creature. He is abandoned by Frankenstein after he is created. "It was dark when I awoke; I felt cold also, and half frightened, as it were instinctively, finding myself so desolate." The creature is frightened because he is lonely and doesn't know what to do because no one had spoken to him since he had been created. In Branagh's film interpretation, the creature is compared to a baby: He is created in amniotic fluid and can't walk properly. The creature also behaves like a baby in the novel when it "...stretched out..." to reach Frankenstein. That makes you have even more sympathy for the creature because it is like Frankenstein is abandoning a baby. The creature isn't accepted by anyone just because of his looks. "...I had hardly placed my foot within the door, before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though Frankenstein has inflicted a lot of pain on the creature, the creature still feels remorse for his death. This makes the creature seem more human and you can sympathise with him more. In Branagh's interpretation, Walton is like the audience - he feels negatively towards the creature in the beginning but accepts him at the end. Walton is won over when the creature says his first two lines to him. "He didn't give me a name. He was my father." Those two lines would make you feel sympathy for the creature because as Frankenstein never gave him a name and is just referred to 'The Creature', it dehumanises him even though he has many human characteristics. "He was my father" makes you feel further sympathy as the creature's 'father' has just died. In the novel, the creature likens himself to Satan from Milton's Paradise Lost. "Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me." He is similar to Satan because he is rejected by his creator (God/Frankenstein) and gets revenge on them. They both only act like monsters because their creators think they are monsters. Frankenstein could be compared to God as he creates the creature and thinks of him as a monster, but he could also be compared to Satan because they both want to play God and take over creation. In conclusion, I think that throughout the novel, our sympathy switches from Frankenstein to the creature numerous times, but by the end we feel sympathy for everyone but Frankenstein, especially the creature. The creature never considers that killing is wrong, because violence had been used against him so many times in the past when he had done nothing wrong, so he would have thought that there was nothing wrong with killing when someone had done something wrong. You could put the blame on Frankenstein for that as he never teaches the creature that violence is wrong. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ben Miller ...read more.

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