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Who or what, in your opinion, is the real monster in Frankenstein?

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Introduction

Martin Jubb 10S "I always saw my monster as something inarticulate, helpless and tragic. To him, Frankenstein was God." Boris Karloff (on his portrayal of Mary Shelley's monster). Who or what, in your opinion, is the real monster in Frankenstein? Ever since Mary Godwin wrote the first edition of Frankenstein, as a then unmarried 19yr old girl, people have been voicing different opinions over who is the real monster in the novel. Since the first writing of the novel, it has been rewritten and reworked into many different films and plays. Many of these do not follow the storyline of the book exactly and often portray the monster as a savage beast who has no self-control, knowledge, understanding and, most of all, feelings. Mary Shelley rewrote her first edition in 1831. This volume is more conservative and does not shock the reader as much as the first edition did. It portrays Victor more sympathetically and the monster more intellectually gifted than the first version. Mary Shelley illustrates many opposites in this novel: good and evil; creator and creature; monstrous and human. But the theme I will be looking at in detail is villain and victim, which relates to the original question of who is the real monster or villain. The dictionary defines a monster as an 'Inhumanly wicked or cruel person; A misshapen animal; A large, hideous animal or thing.' This definition seems to imply that the exterior reflects the interior, or that a frightening external appearance conceals a wicked character. The creature in this novel has the notorious reputation for being the monster, but is this really justified? The first key passage describes the creation of the monster. Shelley builds up atmosphere at the start of the chapter by her description of the weather and surroundings, "It was on a dreary night of November". This contrasts with Victor's anticipation. He has been waiting his entire life for a chance to create life and now his workings reach a climax. ...read more.

Middle

They have changed roles and this shows the reader another glimpse of the idea that the creature is another side to Frankenstein. The creature reinforces this impression by eloquently saying, "Thou hast made me more powerful than thyself." Victor is enraged by this comment and flings himself at his creation who, with superhuman reflexes, sidesteps out of reach. This emphasises the gulf between creator and created. Victor's savage actions indicate to the reader that he is the true monster in the passage. This underlines the feeling that the creature is the other side of Victor. Whilst Victor wants conflict, the creature declines, only talking eloquently to put forward his view. Another side to the theory that the creature is Victor's double is that Victor rejects what the creature craves: love and companionship. Victor has avoided marrying Elizabeth who would provide him with love and companionship. As the story progresses, the reader learns about the creature's experiences when he relates his life story to Victor. The creature has learnt how to speak and write, things that are usually learnt by children from their parents. Victor rejected the creature 'at birth', so he never learnt anything from Victor. All his knowledge has been learnt from books or, incidentally from the de Lacey family as he secretly watches and listens when Safie is being taught her lessons by Felix. Once the creature discovers Victor's journal in his pocket, he learns how he was made and from this moment he is changed emotionally. He calls Victor "Accursed creator" and damns the "Hateful day when I received life." He is filled with bitter thoughts and is filled with sorrow about his repulsive appearance. He also thinks of Victor bitterly, "He had abandoned me, and in the bitterness of my heart I cursed him." His spirits are momentarily lifted when he 'introduces' himself to old man De Lacey. The creature approaches the old man because he is blind and can't judge him by his appearance as everyone else does. ...read more.

Conclusion

The creature has come to hate himself for what he has put his creator through. "That is also my victim! In his murder my crimes are consummated: the miserable series of my being is wound to its close! Oh, Frankenstein! Generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thou lovedst. Alas! He is cold, he cannot answer me." This shows the creature regretted his actions. The creature himself has realised how monstrous he has been to Frankenstein but it is not as much as the creature has had to endure in his short 'life'. Overall, I believe that Victor is the real monster in this novel. He creates nearly all the suffering and misery in the story. He creates the creature which suffers because of disfigurement; he makes his family suffer misery by hardly ever acknowledging their constant support and love for him, and, probably most of all, he makes himself suffer huge amounts of misery through his unplanned actions. Also by usurping the powers of God, he is performing the biggest sin: trying to play God. Victor's overwhelming ambition was to give life to something which was lifeless. By creating life by himself without the need of the involvement of a woman was against the laws of nature and could be seen as monstrous. This could only bring destruction and misery to everyone involved. Frankenstein pays dearly for this and, in some ways, gets his just reward by having all he ever loved taken away from him. The creature was not born evil. His actions were merely reactions to the way he was treated. Even his murder of Elizabeth was only a copy of Victor's actions when destroying the mate he was making for the creature. Frankenstein had an overwhelming desire to be reknowned for a major achievement in medical science. This desire to satisfy his own ego grew into something which turned him into a monster. ...read more.

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