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Frankenstein: The Significance of the Creatures Speech. “Hideous monster! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces! You are an ogre. ” Victor Frankenstein has created life. Out of nothing he has constructed a being that can think for itself, make decisions for itself and sustain itself as if it were any of god’s creations. When the creature confronts its maker it clearly presents an autobiographical narration of its life, it is this speech that raises several significant issues.
These many issues can best be categorised into three broad areas, the development of the creatures basic capabilities and desires, the acquisition of morals and their further development and finally the duties that a creator has to those upon which it bestows life. “A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt heard and smelt, at the same time… ” Children rely on the first few years of life to develop their senses and their ability to survive on their own; they are cared for and raised by adults and those that are completely abandoned die.
Frankenstein’s creation, in many ways similar to a new born child, in its age, lack of education and inexperience in the world, is totally abandoned and survives. It is during his speech that this significant issue of self-sustainment, even from birth, is raised. Frankenstein gives life to an inanimate object, this object however, from the first instant of life is capable of thought and well within its first week is able to sustain itself.
When the creature gets hungry it finds food and seeks shelter, a most basic instinct, but how far do these instincts go? Does one from birth desire language, and companionship? The creature’s speech answers many of these. Frankenstein’s creations rate of self-education far outstrips a human child who in the same situation would almost certainly perish. (Many Greek, Roman and Jewish stories involve children surviving on their own for certain periods and it is quite possible that Shelley has been influenced by the stories of, Oedipus, Romulus and Moses.
Upon awaking in the woods on his second day of existence natural instinct takes over and the creature sets about procuring food and shelter. These are the most basic impulses for a creature and given an infant mind in a very apt, physically capable frame, his story gives a detailed insight to the extent of what knowledge and desires a new being has from birth. “Several changes of day and night passed… when I began to distinguish my sensations from each other”
Given no education other then what he can teach himself the creature sets about the task of mental development and survival. On its first night of existence the monster feels cold and damp from night, not understanding what these are it weeps in despair. Without any concept of what pain is other then first hand experience the creature knows nothing of how to end it, only upon the discovery of fire is the pain of cold abated.
This important discovery however, as with the discoveries of Victor and the mythological Prometheus, have negative effects, all three tampered with the unknown, and all three suffered. “Sweeter then the voice of the thrush or the nightingale” Another issue focusing around basic instincts that is raised is the question of what a being is born with and what it acquires during life. The above quote indicates the creature, from the early stages of its life was able to compare and make decisions based upon, two entirely different things.
It also soon develops the desire for the mastery of language and writing, which is very symbolic of how mankind for many thousands of years has relied upon writing and speaking to convey thoughts and desires form person to person, generation to generation. The creature also, from the first time it views its reflection refers to itself as hideous, having never been educated in beauty and deformity the creature’s statement implies that all self-aware beings are born with a concept of beauty. “I learned from the social life which it developed, to admire their virtues and depreciate the vices of mankind”.