Dr. Victor Frankenstein – The True Monster
Dr. Victor Frankenstein – The True Monster
The worst kind of monster there is in this world is the kind that totally dismisses the power of love and does everything to destroy believe in this great and wonderful virtue. In Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ where Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates a creature from the parts of various corpses and gives it live, the matter of love becomes a central element and this love is what clearly distinguishes the human from the true monster.
Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” explores the two levels of love and these two levels are what set apart Dr.Victor Frankenstein as the true monster from the creature that he created because albeit the monstrous external appearance of Frankenstein’s creation, the creature proves more capable of love than its creator. The novel begins with a letter written by Robert Walton to his sister where he describes witnessing a huge creature in the arctic pursued by Dr. Victor Frankenstein. “Walton records Frankenstein’s narrative, while Frankenstein in turn relays the monster’s narrative, so that there are layers of reality expressed through different characters’ points of view.
” (Johnson) From this initial glimpse of the ‘so-called’ monster, the novel unfolds to eventually show that the true monster in the novel is in fact the doctor and not his creation. Apart from the expectations of readers, the creature of Dr. Victor Frankenstein eventually evolves into an individual who can think logically, prove to be more articulate, and more importantly, more capable of love compared to its creator.
This alone is evidence that between the two characters who drive the novel, the creature is in fact the one that is presented as the symbol of intrinsic emotions apart from the superficiality that Dr. Frankenstein portrays. In exploring the personality of Dr. Frankenstein in the novel, his monstrosity inevitably emerges. For instance, in the lines, “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. ” (Shelley, Ch.
4) the doctor proves to possess a distorted perception of the world at large. Here, he looks at the world as a place of darkness which needs his scientific prowess as it moves into the light. Aside from the fact that this puts too much weight on his shoulders, this quote also shows his conceit and bloated ego. These lines validate the doctor’s obsession with life and death and how he has the power to control it; only a few levels short of wanting to rule the world as is common with all villains.
These lines also express the intentions of the doctor when he creates his ‘so-called’ monster. In this context, the doctor seeks to penetrate natural laws not in the interest of the evolution of science or the welfare of the public but because he would simply want to exercise his assumed power over natural laws. This, in effect, presents the doctor as a mad scientist who is guided by values that are way beyond the values of someone sincerely concerned with the plight of humanity.
This initial presentation of Victor sets the tone for the audience and gives them a glimpse of what is to come. With the intentions and personality of this doctor exposed in the way he is characterized, one can easily see that the novel will definitely take a twist that would have the monster gaining the upper hand in terms of sanity and morality. This is validated by another quote from the doctor that states, “A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. ” (Shelley, Ch.
4) where the doctor very clearly expresses his dark intentions which is to want to have other natures ‘owe their being’ to his work. Here, one sees that the doctor seems to be suffering from a God-complex which to most is the delusion of being someone who can create life and hence, derive power from this ability. Victor, therefore, becomes an individual of thwarted beliefs and one who does not respect the established laws of the universe; of course, the consequences of this are later expressed in the way his monster turns out to be.
In comparison to the doctor, the monster as it has already been created presents or manifests critical thought and a deeper and more logical perception of things as opposed to how its master perceives it. This initially sets the stage for a diametrical opposition between the personalities of these two characters. The monster first begins to question his existence, hence, the line, ““God in pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours…. ” (Shelley, p.
154) Here, the monster demonstrates an understanding of natural laws in recognition of God as the creator of man and the circumstance by which man was created as being ‘after his own image’. In looking at his image, the monster concludes that his is a ‘filthy type’ of the image of his creator, Victor Frankenstein. In effect, the monster is now question how a creation can be a substandard version of its creator’s when natural law dictates that the creature has to be ‘beautiful and alluring’ like its creator. There is a deep philosophical insight in this statement by the monster which challenges the humanity of the doctor himself.
The mere fact that the monster perceives itself as a ‘filthy’ version of the creator implies that the creator may in fact be human on the outside but a monster on the inside because if the matter of the likeness of God is applied to this supposition, man is created not in the physical likeness of God but in His spiritual likeness. The monster therefore, is an external reflection of the internal nature of the doctor. However, despite this superficial image, the monster develops its own volition and evolves into a thinking-feeling individual who is not restrained or enslaved by the distorted values of its creator.
So, the monster begins to recognize this fact and is initially bound to its creator, hence, the lines, ““I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator, and to whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life? ” (Shelley, p. 165) The monster, in these lines expresses two values – the first, being his recognition of the importance of the acquisition of life as a basis for respect, and second, the recognition of the worth of the person who had given it life.
For a monster, these realizations are quite distant, but in the case of Frankenstein’s monster, such realizations seemed to come naturally which all the more validates the clear and discriminating thought process of the creature. Another insight that could be derived from these lines is the presence of a deeper emotion than respect – love. The monster, upon referring to the doctor as its ‘father’ gives a deeper dimension to this statement because the word ‘father’ is different from creator; the word ‘father’ is not just a recognition of creation or pro-creation for that matter, but also a recognition of the nurturing nature of the individual.
The monster, therefore, by referring to the doctor as ‘father’, is aware of the fact that whoever created it also had the task of nurturing it whether physically or emotionally. In another instance, one sees how the monster acquires its savage nature only as a reflection of the savage nature of the creator. This is seen in the lines, ““I am malicious because I am miserable…. You, my creator, would tear me to pieces, and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?
” (Shelley, p. 173) Here one sees that the reason why the monster had developed a hatred for man was because the creator had exercised a certain degree of hostility toward the monster. While in natural circumstances this may simply be construed as cruelty, in this particular instance, the monster is able to perceive the reasons for the hostility and manifest it in its own existence. Therefore, the monster is not savage; instead, it had become savage in response to the hostility of its creator.
It will also be recalled from the novel that in the desperation of the monster for social acceptance it implored the doctor to create for it a wife, hence, the lines ““I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me, but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. ” (Shelley, p. 171) Now, in connection to this particular incident, the doctor did create another monster out of scrap female body parts and introduced it to the first monster as its wife, however, the more horrible thing in this particular instance is the fact that the doctor destroys the female monster and angers the male.
In the earlier lines, one can easily glean that the male monster had perceived its appearance to be the reason for its isolation and hence, demonstrated it’s human nature which is in fact beyond the human nature of the doctor who is consumed by his own power and takes away from the male monster the only opportunity at acceptance and love.
The incident where the monster kills the wife of Victor on the night of their wedding therefore becomes immaterial to whether the monster has human qualities or not, in fact, it validates its humanness as it demonstrates a significant response to the feeling of remorse and hatred for the inhumanity that was committed upon it by the doctor; and so, this particular incident changes the monsters point of view completely, but it should not be denied that this change of perception is not because of the volition of the monster but as a result of the savage and insensitive actions of Victor, its creator.
So, the monster then states, ““[T]he human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union…. [I]f I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear…. ” (Shelley, p. 173) Now, if one was to peruse this line as it is without considering the underlying circumstances, it would seem that the monster had become irrational and wild, but with the perusal of underlying circumstance, the monster becomes very logical in its responses. “It is therefore, plausibly suggested, that the Monster can be seen as a metaphor for the destructive power of unleashed passion.
“ (Pearce) This basically shows that the creature is not really the monster in the novel as demonstrated by its insights and responses, and the real monster is the doctor, who, apart from being obsessed with the power of being able to create life, relegates his creation as a monstrosity and totally dismisses the possibility that this creation also has the same degree of emotions and logical thought that he has as its creator. “Dr. Frankenstein continually underestimates the being’s malice and power. ” (Thripp) This is the deadening mistake of Victor and this is what makes the distinction clear between him and his creation.
Both seek love, as is shown in Victor’s desire for his wife and the monster’s need for a partner, but it is the way these two men act on the love that had been acquire that sets each other apart. Victor takes this love as if it is natural and ordinary, while the monster perceives it as something that is of great value because of his physical inadequacies; Victor, therefore, becomes more savage than the monster in this aspect, hence, “the secret is not that he created a monster; the secret is that he is the monster.
This intensifies his guilt and seclusion, adds weight to his terrible illness and remorse,” (Thripp) It will be seen towards the end of the story that Victor grows insane and pursues the monster until they finally meet in the arctic. Here, the doctor dies and the creature mourns the loss of its master. This, again, is an expression of humanity, because the monster, despite being victim to the hostility and insensitivity of its creator still felt a certain degree of indebtedness and love for Victor, whom the monster fully recognized and respected to be its sole source of life.
The monster, in these final scenes in the novel, validates its humanity over the humanity of the doctor by ignoring all past evils of its master and transcending hostile emotions to recognize the supremacy of love and compassion. In validation of this compassion of the monster, he says, ‘”I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.
” (Shelley) Here one sees that when said by a physically horrible creature these words might seem to be a threat but if the humanity of the creature is superimposed against the reasons for the creature’s existence, then a perfect and complete humanity emerges. “All the references to monstrousness are metaphors for Victor’s black heart, and that Shelley has created a work of art that is truly Romantic; the entire novel miserable and revolutionary, a battle of light versus dark, good versus evil, all wrapped up in one self-contradictory character. ” (Thripp)
In conclusion, it is not really the ability of the doctor to create life that is the meat and the matter in this novel; instead it is the conflict of morality that arises from his creation of life. While some argue that this novel alludes to the duality of the personality of Dr. Frankenstein, analyzing the novel deeper would tell one that over and above the dramatic circumstances in the tale, the author offers deep and surprising insights into the nature of humanity. The monster as a symbol of unbounded humanity succeeds in the author’s intention of relegating the real human, Dr.
Frankenstein into a domain where readers might question his integrity as a human and as a sane individual. The saner element therefore becomes the monster and the doctor becomes a representation of the dark and savage nature of man which is only expressed in exaggeration in the monster only to highlight or reflect the evil and savageness that dwells in the heart of the true monster, Dr. Frankenstein. Finally, one has the line, “I may die; but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.
” (Shelley, Ch. 20) which seals the fate of the monster as one who is more human than its creator. This line expresses one other aspect of humanity that determines how one survives and that is the absence of fear. Victor Frankenstein, in the way he is portrayed in the novel did not fear dabbling with the laws of nature, but upon setting eyes on his creation began to fear what he saw. In effect, the doctor had developed not a fear for the unknown and what should be feared but a fear for his own reflection as portrayed in the monster.
He feared the horrors that he saw of himself in the monster. The monster was a mirror of the darkness that pervaded his soul and the misplaced feat that manifested itself in his desire to create life despite traditional values that tell him to do otherwise. So, based on the textual evidence presented in the novel it is quite clear that while numerous philosophical implications can be attached to the text, Victor Frankenstein actually emerges as the monster over and above the superficial monstrosity of his creation.
The monster therefore, proves to be more human than its creator in more aspects than one and proves its humanity in the end by showing a sincere and exceptionally deep sense of compassion and logical emotion. ? Works Cited Johnson, Diane. “Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein . ” Greenman Review. N. p. , 2008. Web. 15 Aug. 2010. <http://www. greenmanreview. com/book/book_shelley_frankenstein. html>. Pearce, Joseph. “The Misunderstood Monster.
” Ignatius Critical Editions. N. p. , 2008. Web. 15 Aug. 2010. <http://www. ignatiusinsight. net/features2008/jpearce_introfrank_oct08. asp>. Shelley, Mary W. “Frankenstein. ” N. p. , n. d. Web. 15 Aug. 2010. <http://www. quotesandpoem. com/literature/literaryworks/Shelley/Frankenstein>. Thripp, Richard. “Victor Frankenstein: Trodden Hero or Veiled Villain?. ” Scholarly Essays. N. p. , 2008. Web. 15 Aug. 2010. <http://richardxthripp. thripp. com/2008/02/frankenstein-hero
Subject: True Monster,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 21 September 2016
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