The Identity Crisis of Frankenstein’s Monster

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Dr. Philippe Rochat who is an infant and child development psychology specialist, describes that most fundamental issue in psychology from both evolutionary and developmental perspective is the self-awareness (Rochat 717). From Dr. Rochat’s description, we develop our perception very gradually from very early stages in childhood starting from birth to about four or five years of age. A child perceives through all organs of senses. Self-perception through other’s eyes is an important milestone that a child attains by visual and tactile methods.

This gets refined as the child gets older. Dr. Rochat explains further that proper support and guidance is necessary for this process. Without proper support and guidance, this can be an enormous task for a child to master and the process can take a lengthy amount of time which be tormenting to a developing child. This tormenting phase to achieve self-perception is portrayed very well by Mary Shelly, in her novel Frankenstein through the character of the Monster developed by the young scientist obsessed with creating life, Victor Frankenstein.

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has a good scenario of this issue dealing with self-perception conflicts, through the character monster showing how tormenting it can be to master self-perception when the creator is not engaged in supporting and guiding; and how easily the once-innocent creature turns into evil monster because of the abuses and rejections from the creator.

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, is a gothic fiction novel by an English author named Mary Shelley. It is a story of a protagonist, Victor Frankenstein and his creation of life referred as Monster due to horrifying mistakes in creating him.

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Victor Frankenstein is portrayed as a brilliant young scientist and university student. He has inclined interest in science discoveries and inventions, and hopes to find solution for mankind by giving life, curing deadly diseases. Victor Frankenstein’s obsession soon makes him cross all the boundaries of scientific researches by the desire of giving life to an inanimate object; so he pursues the path of bringing the dead back to life (Shelley, 46). He starts with the idea of making a beautiful creature. He becomes successful is creating a creature with life that he called his child, the Monster. However, he abandons his creation, the Monster, the moment he realizes its ugliness. With passage of time, both take a path of self-destruction due to the consequences of their actions. Shelley’s life can be compared with the novel; she lived a life deprived of parental support, guide, and benevolence. She, and the Monster’s struggle to perceive himself, after the comparable situation of abandonment by his creator, has successfully portrayed Shelley’s and Monster’s struggles to attain and master self-perception.

Dr. Rochat describes that a child expects to have benevolent support particularly from parents. This is an essential support system for a developing child to master self-perception. The child must perceive through other’s eyes before he/she begins to perceive himself/herself. It is very important for a child to know how they view him/her. Because based on that, and physical presence of people in a child’s life, the child will develop what he/she is, and start to realize its existence (Rochat, 722). Victor Frankenstein’s abandonment of the Monster could be a very root cause of pathway to self-destruction. The Monster was deprived of his creator’s fundamental support since the very beginning of his creation when his creator finds him ugly and abandons him. This makes series of conflicts go through the Monster; he is unable to process various kinds of feelings and sensations, he says “…and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time…” (Shelley 118). The Monster quickly learned how other people abhorred him at his very first sight. Based on people’s perception, he developed his own perception of his face being ugly. He reacts with shrieks to his own face when he sees his own reflection in water. He starts to develop his self-perception and believes that he is indeed ugly worthy of being abhorred by the people.

Professor Anne K Mellor has presented another aspect related to self-perception in her essay, which is verbal and visual languages, Problems of Perception. According to her book, there is an indelible influence on the mind of the listener from both visual and verbal languages as both provides cues to your mind for perception. Professor Mellor justifies Shelley’s linguistic portrayal to demonstrate the turning of the Creature into the Monster, “By consistently seeing the creature’s countenance as evil, the characters in the novel force him to become evil” (134). When the Creatures is continuously abhorred and rejected from his creator as well as everyone around him or anyone he meets him, it makes him to become and act like the Monster as everyone thinks that’s what he is and now he believes that what he is when he sees people’s reaction and when he sees his own reflection.

Shelley novel Frankenstein, displays fight of self-perception, and it also presents a simple solution to be accountable to ones’ actions. It emphasizes that no action is without a consequence. The Monster’s pleading for salvation to its master, Victor Frankenstein, is a plea to the parents and guardians to show benevolence, guide and support their development, and take responsibility of their children. Be a friend to your children; abuse, rejection and abandonment can take an evil turn and can be monstrous. Love and appreciation works best in the world.

Works Cited

  1. Mellor, Anne K. “Problems of Perception.” Chapter 7 of Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters. New York: Methuen 1988, 127-40.
  2. Rochat, Philippe. “Five levels of self-awareness as they unfold early in life.” Consciousness and Cognition 12 (2003) 717–731. ELSEVIER 27 February 2003. Web. 06 February 2015. .
  3. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818. New York: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2008. Print

Cite this page

The Identity Crisis of Frankenstein’s Monster. (2021, Aug 18). Retrieved from

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