Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Essay
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
In Chapter 23, however we do feel for Frankenstein, as he discovers his newly-wedded wife, Elizabeth, strangled by the Creature, after refusing to make a female being. He describes her as being “thrown”, “hanging” and “distorted”. This emotive language, I believe, reflects his anger and hatred towards the Creature. These words are incredibly violent and destructive. The word “hanging”, one may argue, is a flashback to Justine’s execution. Both of Victor’s female companions’ lives have been dashed at the hands of the Creature.
The word “hanging” is also another way of killing a being by applying pressure to the neck/throat. Although Elizabeth has been strangled, that descriptive word could be interpreted as Victor’s ‘execution’ of her. If he had either made the female Creature, or stayed with her on their wedding night, Elizabeth might not have been killed. It is down to Frankenstein’s overwhelming arrogance that she died. In Chapter 11, the Creature has his first encounter with the De Lacey family. He is “unable to bear the emotions” when he sees the elderly man with the little girl.
The Creature demonstrates he has more respect for humanity than Frankenstein, whose goal is to replace it. “I longed to join them, but dared not… ” this is due to his maltreatment by society. Mary Shelley wrote this around 50 years after Jean Jacques Rousseau produced his theory that “Evil is entirely due to society – man is born innocent and corrupted by society. ” In her novel, I believe that she supports this theory. She has turned the Creature into a compassionate, articulate being. Frankenstein’s parental skills are irresponsible and reckless.
In Chapter 11, at the start of the Creature’s narrative, he describes how he was frightened and scared in the wood; “It was dark when I awoke, I felt cold also, and half-frightened, as it were instinctively finding myself so desolate. ” Darkness is a feature of the Gothic, and is also an example of pathetic fallacy, a predominantly Gothic technique, used for great effect many times in the novel. The Creature being frightened shows to us once again, his nai?? veti?? early on after his birth. This is another device used to make the reader feel huge sympathy towards the Creature.
After the creature is first born Victor realises the consequences of his actions. He flees Ingolstadt, and returns to Geneva. However, although he has been a terrible father figure to the Creature, you cannot excuse the actions of revenge that the Creature undertook. The murder of William Frankenstein is out of anger towards his creator. Personally, I disagree with David Hartley’s philosophy in 1749 that: “Morality is not something you were born with, but is the result of an individual’s experience. ” Perhaps you disagree. There is no scientific proof either way to say this philosophy is right or wrong.
It is a matter of belief. The Creature most definitely did not have a positive experience of mankind, but he does know the difference between right and wrong, and knows that it was wrong to kill. He expresses his guilt towards the end of the novel, before his suicide; “.. it is true I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless, I have strangled the innocent as they slept.. ” He calls himself a “wretch”, therefore he is not proud or pleased with his actions. This proves that the Creature does have a developed sense and understanding of right and wrong.
When answering the set question, there are a number of determining factors that have to be taken into close consideration. Both Frankenstein and the Creature shared personality traits, for example determination, and the right they thought they had to play God with innocent lives. There are, however, extenuating circumstances that you need to consider before laying blame at the feet of either character. Frankenstein’s narrative to Walton is in the past tense. His hatred for the Creature has manifested since the death of his wife, therefore he may have elaborated on his suffering somewhat.
Also, the Creature may be false when he said he regretted murdering Elizabeth, William, and being responsible for the execution of Justine. However, in my opinion, I believe that the Creature was honest, and he was truly remorseful for his actions. He was prepared to burn himself so that his body would not be discovered, and that others like him would not be made. I support Dr Siv Jansson’s conclusion that at the climax of the novel, the reader’s sympathy goes out to the Creature more than it does to Frankenstein, however, I believe that some sympathy lies with Frankenstein too.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 15 November 2017
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