In the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the monster is born more or less with the mind of a baby. He craves attention, love and nurturing as all babies do. The monster was left with no one to teach him anything, and to understand the world solely on his own. After observing, and slowly figuring out how the world works, he was unable to imitate because no one accepted him, including his creator. Isolation and rejection can affect everyone differently, as in the case with the monster his character changed drastically because of it.
When someone is born they need some sort of direction. As soon as the monster came into being his creator abandoned him, leaving him to figure out the world on his own. How can a newborn learn if there is no one to teach? The monster had to find means of survival. After observing the outside world and people’s actions he realized the general means of living. After watching the cottagers’ day in and day out he learned their values and way of life.
After being completely rejected by them he felt more alone than ever because he realized that humans need companions and family, and that his appearance would rid him of those pleasures altogether. His physical grotesqueness is the aspect of his persona that blinds society to his initial gentle, kind nature. By observing, he longed. Only after seeing that people needed one another did the monster realize he needed someone too. It was his feelings of isolation that lead to his character change.
Everyone is born innocent. The monster was born not knowing anything about the world. Once he learned what people value, accept and care about he thought he needed that to. Willing to take in anything that came his way, the monster was rejected time and time again. He assisted a group of poor peasants, and even saved a girl from drowning, but because of his appearance he was rewarded with beatings and disgust. Frustration and rejection overpowered his good qualities. He could not understand how he was created to be hated.
Am I thought to be the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me? Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his door with contumely? Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the savior of his child? Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings! I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on. Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice. (243)
This eruption of angry self-pity is when the monster questions the injustice of how he has been treated so unfairly and captures his inner life giving the reader a glimpse into the suffering that motivated his crimes. He relates to abortion to convey that he was an unwanted life, a creation abandoned and shunned by his creator who was filled with “breathless horror and disgust” when he saw his creation (85). He resented his creator for this, and wanted to seek revenge on him for being born into a world that would not accept him.
The monster was simply confused about being created altogether. All of his actions were driven purely by sadness and hopelessness. The monster was left to live a life solely by himself, which would make any human being depressed and in this case angry. Just because the monster committed all those crimes does not mean that his good natured qualities disappeared. His actions were just a product of rejection and isolation. He still possessed certain qualities he was born with, yet his anger overpowered them.
We live in a world which has difficulty accepting variations from the norm. The monster was an example of what our world values most. Because of his awful appearance everyone rejected him right off the bat. We live in a world which values looks before interior or mental goodness. The monster would have never committed those awful crimes if he had been brought up experiencing some form of love or companionship.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. 1818 2nd ed: Broadview. Peerborough, Ont. 1999. Ed: D.L Macdonald & Kathleen Scerfa
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