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This gives us the impression that Walton is far less judgemental of the creature and therefore offers a certain glimmer of hope for rejuvenation. It is clear to me also from the text that Mary Shelley has provided her readers with an implicit example of social inequality and therefore through events, offered a condemnation for such injustices. Arguably, Mary Shelley is in fact offering a criticism of humanity’s eagerness to judge and condemn on appearances, therefore the theme of good and evil is sub-categorised into that of appearance and reality.
Mary Shelley suggests that society is blinded by a sense of prejudice and desire to judge first and foremost on appearances above all else. The monster is undoubtedly hideous in appearance. His own creator upon first looking upon his being feels that ‘No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. ‘ However, upon first encountering the Monster in chapter 10, the conflict between appearance and reality comes into play. We to,o judging upon his monstrous form, expect little more than attempts of communication, perhaps a series of inarticulate grunts.
Instead, we are shocked with the creature’s ability to express himself and of his calm, dignified and biblically alluded eloquence. ‘Remember, that I am thy creature. I ought to be thy Adam, but rather I am rather the fallen angel. ‘ This eloquence is heightened by the contrasting way in which Viktor is seen to expresses himself. He, surprisingly, is unable to do more than splutter broken insults, in comparison to the harmonious, flowing and balanced way in which the creature has the ability to articulate.
While the creature has the ability to articulate his desires and maintain self control, Victor merely insults the creature, which stands out as cowardice. Even more of a surprise is that we soon come to the realisation that the creature is, despite his hideous appearance, the most eloquent character within the novel. Therefore we are asked to question or own pre-judgements when presented with such eloquence. The Delacey family are portrayed to be compassionate and good human beings, they themselves being victims of prejudice.
The creature admires them and grows to love them, describing them as ‘compassionate and good human beings’ It is ironic, that even the Delacey’s prove capable instigating the same type of prejudice towards the monster that they have faced themselves. Both have suffered at the hands of prejudice yet they cannot find a common ground because of the all too human failing to deal with what is alien in a society which is so focused on appearance. They reject the monster utterly, not by his actions, but judging upon his physical appearance. He is spurned upon his appearance in spite of his politeness, eloquence and good intentions.
Indeed the monster recognises ‘a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster’ It is ironic that the only member of the family who has the ability to see clearly is the old man Delacey, who is physically blind. He reassures the monster’I and my family have been condemned, although innocent; judge therefore, if I do not feel your misfortunes. ‘ Shelley therefore offers us the consideration that whilst eyes allow us sight they also alarmingly blind us to reality.
Therefore the idea of sight and blindness becomes blurred and it is questionable what use sight is to us when we are so utterly blinded by our prejudices that we cannot see clearly. We, as readers cannot help but feel a sense of pathos towards the monster at this point. We know his intentions were pure yet he was denied a sense of acceptance based solely upon his physical appearance. This is obviously a critique of prejudice within society and we are forced to recognise alarmingly that it is a crime that we ourselves are guilty of.
Therefore, through the monsters spurn and rejection there is definitely a sense of morality to be obtained. This point is supported extensively by the further degradation of the monster through the progression of events. The novel relates the entire progression of how a pure creature can become corrupted by society. We gradually witness the monster falling further and further into a sense of resentment and bitterness as a direct result of the prejudices he has faced and the frustrations of his inability to fit in. He claims that ‘Evil thenceforth became my good.
‘ Whilst we detest and deplore his actions we witness we can recognise the reasoning behind the monsters evil. Through the monsters plight we are witnesses to the utter degeneration of what was once a ‘benevolent and compassionate being’ into what is essentially the ‘abhorred monster’ which Victor so often describes. We find ourselves identifying with his own universal and very human desire for acceptance which does not in fact render him ‘monstrous’ at all. There is a striking contradiction here between the verbal and the visual, a conflict between expectations and experiences.
We are forced therefore to question our pre-set prejudices, our expectations and qualities assigned to the creature against the stereotypical monster figure we imagine. We come to realise that what we have defined as ‘Monstrous’ is our stereotypical analysis of anything which is essentially different from ourselves. We are shocked that we ourselves judge first and foremost on appearances. Mary Shelley has effectively provided us and therefore offered to us a critique of how society is blinded by prejudice. The story of Safie is yet another critique and portrayal of prejudices which exist within society, to women in particular.
Safie, in contrast to Elizabeth has been set up as a paragon of female virtue. She breaks away from the patriarchal society to what she belongs and rebels against the ‘tyrannical mandate’ of her father. Against all odds she succeeds upon her sheer determination and will not to fall under the imposing darkness that men can be seen to impose upon women of all societies through their oppression. Safie is a definite portrayal of what a woman could be, and a demonstration of what a woman singularly can achieve if she uses her initiative and independence.
Safie, like Elizabeth is subject to prejudice from her culture, this prejudice being emblemised by her father. Yet she is set up in opposition to Elizabeth, who ironically lives in a westernised society, where perhaps more equality is available to women. Elizabeth however is passive in contrast to Safie who has a ‘fiery spirit’ Safie, unlike Elizabeth is not set up as a possession, she is independent, and not reliant upon men, and therefore it is arguable that Safie.