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Victor Frankenstein The Victim Or Monster English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2603 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Individuals in today’s society have the best of intentions at heart when setting extravagant goals to try and improve future generations to come, however, the outcome is often proven disastrous, and even at times fatal. “My dreams were therefore undisturbed by reality; and I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life. But the latter obtained my most undivided attention: wealth was an inferior object; but what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!” (Shelley 22) Frankenstein, a gothic novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley during the 18th century, illustrates how a single man’s idealistic desires and motives of experimenting with nature to rid the world of death, results in the creation of a horrific creature. Frankenstein’s fatal cataclysm began with his inspiration on outdated ideas, fed by his weakness and cowardice and ended up by failure to pursue the monster’s resolution sooner. While Frankenstein’s yearning for new knowledge is inspiring, it proved to be an important key factor in driving him to the place of his ruin.

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A number of popular misconceptions regarding Shelley’s Frankenstein obscure the story for the majority of readers. “Frankenstein is of course not the monster, but his creator; nor is he a mad scientist of genius-he in fact a highly idealistic and naïve youth” (Oates 72). Victor is perceived as a mad scientist but on the contrary he is far from that, his quest to rid the world of death is an altruistic and noble motive. Victor Frankenstein desired to overstep the natural bounds of human knowledge. He hungered to learn the secrets of the heavens and earth. “Whether it was the outward substance of things, or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world” ( Shelley). This particular yearning of the young scientist was not what led him to his failure; it was his lack of affection and responsibility toward his progeny that directed his creation’s craving for the vindication of his unjust life. “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow” (Shelley 31).

While studying in Ingolstadt Victor becomes fascinated with the structure of the human frame as well as any animal that was endued with life. Frankenstein felt that to accurately grasp the causes of life he would have to recourse to death. “I became acquainted with the science of anatomy: but this was not sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body” said Frankenstein as he begins to tell his story to Walton. (Shelley 30). Victor began to spend an inordinate amount of time with his studies given over to total solitude. Frankenstein forced himself to spend days and nights in vaults and charnel houses observing, examining and analyzing all the “minutiae of causation,” as exemplified in the change from life to death and death to life. This obsession continued until “from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me” Victor recounts. “A light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised that among so many men of genius, who had directed their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret” (Shelley 30). The young scientists countless hours of dedication had allowed him to discover the cause of generation and life and further more he himself became “capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter” (Shelley 30). Frankenstein worked feverishly day and night gathering what he considered to be the perfect parts to assemble his being. He collected some bones from the charnel houses, he disturbed graves as well. The slaughter house and dissecting rooms were also locations that Victor would obtain his materials. As Frankenstein recalls his studies he describes himself as “one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines, or any other unwholesome trade” (Shelley 33). After depriving himself of rest of health for nearly two years Victor found his creation nearing completion. “I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley 34).

Frankenstein’s original intentions were to create a being unlike any other known to mankind. Victor anticipated something magnificent, a creation superior to all human life. “No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onward like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should break through, and pour torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as his creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing these reflections, I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption (Shelley 32). On that cold, dreary November night, after being given life and then rejected by his creator the creature attempts to speak to his maker, but quickly comes to realize that he is incapable of speech. As Frankenstein recounts the situation he states, “I beheld the wretch- the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaw opened and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs” (Shelley 35). As Frankenstein so vividly explains, he declares that he intentionally refused to communicate with “the demonic corpse to which I had so miserable given life,” based on its shockingly hideous appearance (Shelley 35). “Victor Frankenstein’s failure to embrace his smiling creature with parental love, his horrified rejection of his own creation, spells out the narrative consequences of solitary paternal propagation” (Mellor 73).

Victor became blinded by his ideas to recreate and reincarnate life by his own hand and does not incorporate how society may react to such a creation. In turn, his creation places sole blame on him for delivering him into a world inhabited with people who would never entirely accept him due to his grotesque physical characteristics. Frankenstein delivers his tragic fate to himself being he birthed into this world a full grown “man” and instantly abandons him, leaving no guidance from a guardian to show him the rights and wrongs of our human world. It does not take his creature long to realize that he is completely and utterly alone while he wanders the sod of the Earth. “Though Frankenstein lacks the moral imagination to understand him, the daemon’s appeal is to what is most compassionate in us: Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other, and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous (Bloom 7). One can’t help but to ask themselves what the outcome may have been if Frankenstein had only taken the time to communicate and care for his “being” that consumed nearly two years of his life creating. Victor being the intellectual individual he was would have most definitely possessed the knowledge to be a responsible parent, therefore, his creation would have never developed his sense of exculpation that lead to the murders of those in which Victor loved dearly.

The reader discovers that Victor’s denial to claim responsibility for the creation, that he so passionately gave life that November night, bestows an indescribable mental anguish upon the creature. Some of the first words spoken by Victor are his claims of having affectionate parents. “No youth could have passed more happily than mine” Frankenstein explains to Walton (Shelley 20). “I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood” (Shelley 21). Frankenstein graphically depicts the magnificent environment in which he, Elizabeth and his siblings had been raised. “Such was our domestic circle, from which care and pain seemed forever banished. My father directed our studies and my mother partook of our enjoyments. Neither of us possessed the slightest pre-eminence over the other; the voice of command was never heard amongst us; but mutual affection engaged us all to comply with and obey the slightest desire of each other” (Shelley 24). Instead of providing a home with compassion and guidance as he was given, Frankenstein abandons his hideous child leaving the creation with the feeling of rejection and hastens the feelings that progress to vengeance towards Victor and his loved ones. “All men hate the wretched; how then must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life” (Shelley 65)?

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Victor learns from his creature that what knowledge he obtained regarding human lifestyles was learned while living like an animal in the forest. After being rejected by his creator the creature wandered aimlessly in the woods until he stumbled upon a small home. Here he lived once again in solitude and observed the family through crevices in the walls. He taught himself how to speak as well as how to read. It was at this point he discovered the journal belonging to his maker. Longing for the acceptance of Victor, the creature’s maker, the being of gigantic stature and hideous characteristics decides to seek out his ‘father’ and ask him to make him a female companion. The doctor agrees to his request after being persuaded by the monster, after which he changes his mind and destroys the new creature. “You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery; I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes” (Shelley 115)? The creature is furious at his makers actions; “Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master;-obey” (Shelley 116). The two continue to argue with one another and alas the daemon does as Victor says…..he leaves but as he does his last words were “I shall be with you on your wedding night” (Shelley 116). Frankenstein is unable to clear those words from his mind, for the creature had already taken the life of his youngest brother, William, framed a dear friend of the family for the murder of William, which in turned resulted in her death by conviction, and taken the life of Frankenstein’s one and only friend Henry. How dare he threaten the life of the one whom Victor had loved since childhood?

As promised on the night of the wedding Victor left the room momentarily and it was then that the creature ultimately destroyed Frankenstein’s life. The young scientist now feels that he has nothing else to live for and decides to seek revenge and destroy what he had created. He consciously initiates a conflict that he understands will result in either the death of himself or his creature, but what so ever the outcome it would obliterate and relieve all the sufferings that had been forced to endure. “I must pursue and destroy the being to whom I gave existence; then my lot on earth will be fulfilled, and I may die” (Shelley 148). Frankenstein’s story is told from his dear friend who found him near death while in pursuit of his creation. It was aboard Robert Walton’s ship that Frankenstein took in his last breath and the creature was seen for the last time. Frankenstein’s final decree to Walton was in a feeble voice as he said “I feel that I shall soon die, and he my enemy and persecutor, may still be in being.” During these last days I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find it blameable. In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature, and was bound towards him, to assure, his happiness and well being. This was my duty; but there was another still paramount to that. He destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor do I know where this thirst for vengeance may end. The task for his destruction was mine, but I have failed” (Shelley 151). It was at this time that he asked the young lad to undertake his unfinished work. Later that night as Walton went to his cabin to check in on Victor he walked in and discovered the creature gazing at his creator, he began to run but as Walton spoke he stopped. With and uncontrollable amount of passion the creature begins to speak, “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” (Shelley 153). The creature confesses all to Walton before he declares that he intends to depart the vessel, collect his funeral pile and consume himself to ashes. With this he sprung to the cabin window and was lost in the darkness and distance.

Frankenstein is the tale of a man who is doomed to failure and death merely for his desires to play with nature. His creation of a destructive being in human form, along with his lack of responsibility, compassion and acceptance for this creature is what brings about his own ruin. He immediately abandons his year’s worth of hard work and this results in the murders of his loved ones as the creation seeks out his revenge. Blinded by his idealism, Victor fails to see how giving life to a being that would never be accepted by society could have some drastic, if not fatal results. Lastly, Frankenstein chooses to pursue his creation in vengeance, which leads to his sufferings being completely obliterated as well as his own death. The creation’s search for love and acceptance and Victor’s lacking of, was more responsible for his death than the creation himself.


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