Problem of Responsibility in Frankenstein

Categories: HumanHuman Nature
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We are what we see. We all are raised and taught with morals that we tend to forget or lose as our lifes go on and sometimes don’t realize it. At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. Ethics is centered with what is good for individuals and society. The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a great example where the author associates ethics and morality in her work.

The novel is about a man named Victor Frankenstein who develops the whole plot off his fascination of reincarnation that leads to ethical issues throughout the novel. Some of the ethical issues that occur in Frankenstein consist of the idea with “not playing god” by reincarnation, constant lying like Justine lying about her responsibility of William’s death, and societies judgmental view of the outward appearance which how the monster was viewed by people. The novel has a thickness of questionable ethics seen in the main character Victor Frankenstein actions, but the three most ethically unsound actions and decisions that he committed are; his constant refusal to take responsibility, allows others to assume his responsibilities for his choices, and Victor’s lack of knowledge of his uncheck passion.

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To begin, the first unethical choice is his constant refusal to take responsibility for his actions. Not taking responsibility is something that can shrink a person each time it’s done. This shrink would pause the development of self respect and having respect towards others.

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The main responsibility that he neglected was his creation and admits, “Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep.” (Shelly 41) This first poor decisioned exposed how instead of being a responsible “parent” he demonstrates selfishness and unwillingness to accept the consequences of his actions. His mind was to caught up on what others would think of him and his pride. If he would of took responsibility loved ones that passed would of still been alive, but it all came back at him. In addition, his isolation and secret project of the rebirth of humans to society was irresponsible. During his project he block out society and focused on his goal which he expresses as,“Two years passed in this manner, during which I paid no visit to Geneva, but was engaged, heart and soul, in the pursuit of some discoveries, which I hoped to make.”(Shelly 35) Therefore this is another selfish irresponsible action because he did not inform the public or anybody about his creation. This lead to destruction of people being killed when it could of been prevented and people might have even helped him. Due to the fact he made this decision so independently it was selfish and unfair because people were unaware. His choice to not take responsibility for these actions and others throughout the story shows his shirk personality and parades how us humans are flawed.

Moreover, the second unethical decision is he allows others to assume the responsibilities for his choices. When not accepting the consequences or responsibility there’s a high percentage that it may affect those around us or will come back one way or another. Victor’s brother William was the first to be affected by Victor’s problems and it costed him his life in which Victor’s father describes what happened as, “About five in the morning I discovered my lovely boy, whom the night before I had seen blooming and active in health, stretched on the grass livid and motionless; the print of the murderer’s finger was on his neck.”(Shelly 78) The monster was angry at Victor and thirsty for revenge that was quench. If Victor would have took care of his creation his brothers life would have never ended so shortly. This indicates that he’s weak and selfish because he never took responsibility for his brothers death. The creatures revenge was not over yet. The monster had set up Justine with the murder of William and was found guilty. Victors expresses his feelings as “I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine” (Shelly 100) Victor watch Justine be killed and yet was still so prideful and scared. This all just comes down to the fact that he failed to act when he know he should of and still didn’t even try to prevent further blood on his hands after his brothers .Victor let innocent people sufferer due to these choices and his cowardness.

In addition, the third unethical decision he made was having a lack of knowledge towards his uncheck passion with ethics and science. With science things unordinary or impossible can be made possible. Which could be scary and risky because the outcome can be unbreakable and unexpected. Once Victor finished playing with science for years to bring a deceased person to life he explains the success as, “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 jaws 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.”(Shelly 62)

When Victor had finally pursuited his goal he began to realize that he made the wrong decision. Victor did not rightfully prepare for this project and was motivated more by success. Apart of not being educated about his passion he did not think about what this reincarnated creature would be capable of. Not to mention he did not think about how society would see this creature. The creature had experienced unfortunate misjudgment throughout the novel but he describes a specific one as “On seeing me, he darted towards me, and tearing the girl from my arms, hastened towards the deeper parts of the wood. I followed speedily, I hardly knew why; but when the man saw me draw near, he aimed a gun, which he carried, at my body and fired.”(Shelly 169) After the monster had saved a little girl from drowning the boy who the girl fled from playing attack the creature and shot him all because of the way he looks. It was not right how that boy automatically judge him and hurt him. Therefore, Victor was not thinking how society will accept him and also was a selfish move to make because the monster would suffer. Victor had chosen to pursue a passion that was risky to him, but unthinkingly did it.

To conclude, restating the three most ethically unsound actions made by Victor are; his constant refusal to take responsibility, he allows others to assume the responsibility for his actions, and his choice of an uncheck passion. At the end of it all Victor made a serious mistake not taking responsibility of his actions because that lead to the monster destroying his whole life. He had made a very tedious scientific discovery that he could of turn it into something good. This fictional story associated with playing with science relates on today’s scientific world where cloning, genetic engineering, lab test on animals, atomic bombs, and etc take place. It’s all very risky and unpredictable which is why scientist should be weary of their experiments.

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Problem of Responsibility in Frankenstein. (2021, Sep 20). Retrieved from

Problem of Responsibility in Frankenstein
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