Explore the ways in which Mary Shelley manipulates the reader’s response to the monster in Chapter 5 and at least one other chapter in “Frankenstein”. Prior to Chapter 5, the monsters creation, our sympathies lie with Victor Frankenstein. His dedication to science, to creating human life, had almost made him a recluse from society. We can see Frankenstein’s slow descent when he describes the toll that his ‘undertaking’ has taken on him, “My cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement. “.
It is perhaps because of his ardour that our sympathy stays with Frankenstein in to Chapter 5 when the monster is created and he realises that his creation is not what he wanted it to be. Frankenstein describes his monster as having “Yellow skin scarcely covering the work of muscles and arteries beneath” and “Watery eyes, a shrivelled complexion and straight black lips”. He even goes so far as to call him “the miserable monster”. Although we feel disappointed for Frankenstein, Shelley also definitely writes Chapter 5 in a way which makes it difficult for you to condone his actions.
His creations monstrous appearance is contrasted with his first actions as a living creature who acts how a newborn would act. He “Muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks…. One hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed down the stairs. “. The monsters inarticulate grunting and eagerness for affection should have driven home the fact that Frankenstein is responsible for him, but instead he flees.
The reader is sympathetic towards the monster because of his childlike manner and his rejection from the first human being he has ever seen, who is essentially his Father, mirroring the treatment he will have to endure from humans for the remainder of the novel. Frankenstein does not have any more direct interactions with the monster until Chapter 10, and then his character has changed vastly from the inarticulate child he was in the first moments of his life.
Although by this point in the story both William and Justine have died and readers believe both deaths to be directly and indirectly caused by the monster ,respectively , his words and actions provide a sense of rationality and control. His sophisticated use of language and calm demeanour contrasts greatly with Victor Frankenstein’s aggressive body language, who inundates the monster with harsh words and insults, “Begone, vile insect! or rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust! “.
Not only is the monster easier to sympathise with because of his eloquent usage of words but he also repeatedly states how unhappy his existence is “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. ” and speaks in a manner of self loathing, “All men hate the wretched;how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! “. It is in this chapter that we find out how greatly Frankenstein’s and the rest of humanities’ rejection of the monster has affected him.
He says, “I was benevolent;my soul glowed with love and humanity:but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me;what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? ” The monster was born like any other infant, naive and mentally vulnerable. He had done no wrong, but he was then corrupted by societies views and abhorrence of him just because of the way he looks in a world where good looks, wealth and status are valued above all else.
This aspect of the novel coincides with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s philosophy about humanity, that all men are born equal with only animalistic instincts and thoughts, born with neither bad nor particularly good qualities, but are swayed and corrupted by society and the values that it instils in to its’ children. We can see Shelley’s inclusion of this philosophy in the journey that Frankenstein’s Monster is forced to endure and the way in which he becomes jaded by his experiences.
Societies superficial need to fit in requires them to become overly prideful, which in turn makes them prone to comparison and deriving pleasure from others’ pain and weakness. Firstly the monster is affected by this due to the rejections he receives from the ‘corrupt’ humans, from the old man in chapter 11 who flees from him because of his appearance to the man who shoots him after witnessing him trying to save a small girl in chapter 16.
The monster starts to show signs of corruption himself, perhaps lead by the examples of the humans he has already come in to contact with, when he shows superficial thoughts by self pitying his predicament and his inability to fit in, acknowledging his appearance as being his downfall in Chapter 12, “Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity. ” The monster spends the next few chapters explaining his story to Frankenstein and by Chapter 15 we are aware of his attachment to the De Lacey family.
His characters naturally kind and intelligent disposition is shown in the chapters covering the monsters time watching the De Lacey’s. The monster recognises the concept of companionship, in Chapter 12 calling them his “friends”. He feels compassion towards them, wanting to discover the cause of Agatha and Felix’ sadness and thinking it “Might be in his power to restore happiness to these deserving people.
Because of Safie’s integration in to the family, the monster very quickly learns not only how to communicate but he also gains a vast knowledge of the worlds history and the different cultural aspects that make up a country such as religion and politics through the book “Ruins of Empires” which Felix dictates to Safie. He is able to fully explore through the narration the full extent of human nature, rather than the idealised version he has created through the existence of the virtuous De Lacey family.
He wonders “Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle, and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. “. Sympathy is created for the monster because of the very human compassion and love he feels for the De Lacey’s, as well as his childlike nai?? veti?? towards the true nature of man. The monster continues to live his solitary life, with his only happiness being the times in which he watches the De Lacey’s, until the end of the chapter.
Upon conveniently discovering a set of books, he becomes infatuated with the hero and after relating his situation to the hero’s, begins to wallow in self pity. He can not fully understand the characters in the books as he “was dependent on none, and related to none. “. These thoughts urge the monster to reflect on his existence, his hideous looks and gigantic stature. “What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? “. Eventually the monster discovers how and who he was created by when he reads Frankenstein’s journal of the months preceding his creation.
He now knows who to blame for his pitiful life. The monster realises that his only chance to be integrated in to society is with the De Lacey’s and so he puts all of his hopes with them. The reader’s reaction to the scene where he talks to the elderly, blind De Lacey is mixed because while the reader is pleased that the man is speaking kindly and the monster’s plans appear to be working they also feel sympathy because the only time that he has been treated as a human being was by a man who couldn’t see what he looked like.
However, when the younger De Lacey’s and Safie return and see the monster’s form and his position at the elderly man’s feet, Felix runs forward and starts to beat him without waiting for any explanation. The use of language in this chapter implies the monster’s restraint and capacity for good, as he says “I could have torn him limb from limb, as the lion rends the antelope. “. With the monster being shunned by the De Lacey family in this chapter, he no longer has any hope to grasp on to.
Throughout the story, the reader is sympathetic towards Frankenstein or the monster, sometimes at the same time and sometimes only one of them garners our sympathy, but Shelley has written her story in a way that not only one character is at fault. Rousseau, a French philosopher, argued that we are inherently good, but we become corrupted by the evils of society. Shelley has used a very similar theme in Frankenstein which creates a way for the reader to sympathise with and understand the monster better.