Who Is the Real Monster in Mary Shelley’s Novel, Frankenstein?
Essay: “Who is the real monster in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein? ” Mary Shelley’s objective was to write a novel about how important, or not appearances are. The saying “You can never judge a book by its cover”, is what Mary Shelley is trying to explain to the reader. The tree main characters have different ways of seeing life, but loneliness bonds them together.
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They’ve had unique and painful life experiences, but nothing can stop them from pursuing their goal. This book it starts of with Walton’s journey, then Frankenstein’s story, then the monster’s view and finally back to Walton’s narrative.
The purpose of this essay is to show who the real monster is. The first character is Robert Walton he is presented as a fearless captain of a crew. He is obsessed with the idea of finding another way to reach the North Pole. The following line can give you an idea about how determined and selfish he is, “I ordered us to wait one night longer, and took the chance to get some sleep”. He can also be bossy and companionate in the same time, for example in the next line “I told the man to wrap him in blankets and warm him by the ship’s stove”.
Robert Walton wants to know more about Victor Frankenstein, he states: “When I asked if his studies had brought him to the frozen north, he looked at me with a deep sadness”. This shows that he can be compassionate too. Victor Frankenstein is the main character; he comes from Geneva, Switzerland. Since he was small he enjoyed discovering the unknown “I was more interested in nature than I was in people”. He was the biggest child in his family; he had 2 brothers and a half-sister.
His passion of knowing was increasing every day “From that moment I was determined to find the answers to these questions, to discover the secrets of life”. Right before Frankenstein went to university his mother died “I was keen to go, but, just before I was to set out, my mother fell ill with a fever and died”. By going to university, after his mother’s death, show’s how selfish he is “In the end, of course, I had to leave”. Frankenstein had always been interested in science, but his interests developed more, once his mother died.
Before going to university he promised Elizabeth, his half sister, that he will write to her “My dear Elizabeth clasped my hands and begged me to write, to write often, and I promised that I would”. But when he got to university he forgot his promise to Elizabeth. His arrogance leaded him to be such a good scientist “I smiled to hear this because I knew my understanding of science was not just the equal of theirs but far superior”. Now he wanted to learn more about dead bodies “I had to understand death and decay”. He regrets the fact that he continued with his research “Oh, Walton, if I had only stopped there”.
His desire was to create life “I wanted to create a living being, a creature like myself but perfect and original”, he considered himself a God. Frankenstein also shows us how irresponsible he is, because he didn’t think about what will happen, or what will he do once he will create the monster. So he started working on the idea of creating life. The memory from his childhood “When the light was gone, the tree was left a blasted stump, smoking in the rain” affected him, now he was thinking about using electricity to create life “A flash of electricity like the one I’d seen destroy the tree”.
When the creature gained life, Frankenstein gets scarred and ashamed of his creation “I felt a surge of triumph, but it lasted no more than an instant”. Frankenstein’s description of the monster makes us think that he is horrific. ‘Black lips’ and ‘watery eyes’ are horrific Frankenstein’s view. This description also portrays the monster in a bad way, although the monster has not done anything to be ‘evil’ or ‘monstrous’. The only way he is monstrous is through Frankenstein’s physical description. Frankenstein also uses rhetorical questions throughout the chapter.
This gets the reader involved, but also reminds us that he is still telling his story to Walton. “But was I free? Could I ever be free while that dreadful thing was waiting for me in my work room? ”. After his friend, Henry Clerval’s visit he realized that he was ill, when he went to check if the creature was still there he found out that “The monster had gone”. Frankenstein seems to have abandoned his creation, so this seems quite monstrous. On the other hand, the monster is certainly monstrous in appearance, though he has not done anything wrong at this point in the book.
While Henry and Victor were having breakfast the terrible news of William’s death occurred and they left immediately. When he arrives at his home, and he realizes that the monster must have killed his brother, although he has no evidence “I had given life to the dreadful being that had killed my own brother”. However, Frankenstein says nothing in court, and lets his good family friend Justine hang. This adds to his monstrous behavior due to his cowardice. Frankenstein goes away to the Alps, and seeks comfort in nature, and to get away from the trouble at home, “From he first time in weeks I felt something like happiness in my heart”. Frankenstein is perhaps showing selfishness by leaving his family alone in these troubled times. This again, can make us question who the real monster is. But Frankenstein’s joy didn’t least. ‘Rage’ and ‘horror’ is how Frankenstein describes his emotions, and this shows how unexpected and scared he is. During this scene, Frankenstein also describes the monster in an ugly way, ‘vile demon’ and ‘devil’. Next, Frankenstein exaggerates by saying “You dare come to me after what you have done? ”.
The creature is just trying to talk to Frankenstein “Stay still and listen to me”. They blame each other for what happened and they both have strong arguments against each other. This starts to show who the real monster is, and how it could possibly be Frankenstein. At this point, Shelley has made us reconsider who is more monstrous and the person acting more monstrously is Frankenstein, due to his attitude towards the monster, and rejecting the monster’s story, at first. At this point in the book, we are made to feel sorry for the monster, because he has been rejected.
Also, the only description of the monster has come from Frankenstein. Since this is the case the creature may not look as bad as suggested. The monster then tells his story to Frankenstein. It begins with both Frankenstein and society rejecting the monster and he ends up running away, and living in a forest. Here he learns to read, because he continues listening to the poor family next door. The feeling of sadness gets worse after finding and reading Frankenstein’s diary. After analyzing ‘the happy family’‘s life he was hoping that he could ‘speak with them one day’.
However, when he tries to talk the blind man, his family walk in, and ‘saves’ the old man from the ‘monster’. The monster was ‘born’ good, but the abandonment of his creator and of society has made him be who he is. This perhaps makes us feel sorrier for the monster, and also really makes us question who the real monster is. Because of his loneliness the creature begs Frankenstein to ‘make’ another creature, so he won’t be alone anymore. Firstly Frankenstein refused the creatures deal, but in the end he accepted. Frankenstein collected all the equipment he needed and retired on an island, where no one could find him.
The monster watched every step of Frankenstein’s work, but in the end Frankenstein ‘began to destroy his new creation’ because ‘he refused to bring more misery into the world’. The monster was devastated and threatened Frankenstein, “I shall be with you on your wedding night! ”. Frankenstein thought that the creature was going to ‘kill’ him, but sadly the ‘monster’ was referring to Elizabeth, the person Frankenstein cared the most. While he was going back to Geneva to ‘meet with Henry’, he found out that the creature killed someone again… This time it was Henry, his best friend.
On his wedding night Victor was shocked to find Elizabeth dead, “He was pointing at the lifeless form of Elizabeth, a grin twisted on his vile face”. But ‘the news of Elizabeth’s death was more than his poor father could bear. It broke his heart and he died’. Because of hatred towards his creator, and society, he gets ‘corrupted’ and kills many of Frankenstein’s family. The creature regretted that “he had destroyed his greatest enemy, and his greatest friend, and all the hater I have left is for myself’.
Frankenstein dies. Captain Walton learned a lesson. Within Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, all three characters show monstrous behavior. I believe that a monster is not recognized and defined only by its physical appearance. I believe that Frankenstein’s creation is not the true monster in this novel. But neither are Frankenstein or Walton. In my opinion society is the real monster, because they “Judge a book by its cover”, in other words society cares just about someone’s looks and not about how they really are.