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From your reading of the novel, say whether or not Victor Frankenstein is more monstrous than the monster whom he creates. In the novel of “Frankenstein”, the monster is an alter ego of Victor Frankenstein. This makes it hard to depict which of the two characters are of a greater monstrosity. However, to come to a conclusion I will now examine both the characters in turn and look at events in the story which might help us determine which of the two characters are more monstrous.
Victor derives from an educated background, with his family being “one of the most distinguished” in the republic that they live in. Many of his “ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics” and his father had “filled several public situations with honour and reputation”. “No human could have passed a happier childhood” than Victor. He grew up in luxurious settings with his mother, Caroline, giving him her full attention. The first sign of kindness that Victor shows in the novel, is when his mother adopts a baby girl who is an “orphan beggar” named Elizabeth.
Victor warmly welcomes her into the family and treats her as if she is “more than (a) sister” to him.
As Victor gets older, he grows to be a bright young man with the world as his oyster. He has noble ambition and is eager to learn with a “thirst for knowledge”. We also know that Victor is capable of “closest friendship” and deep love, as he obtains a good childhood friend named Henry Clerval.
He also presents great affection towards Elizabeth and Caroline when they catch Scarlet fever, as he delays his departure to Ingolstadt. In addition, he describes the bond between him and his mother using the words “dearest ties”.
Up till now, we have seen Victor as noble and kind person, who is ambitious to make something of his life. We can see that he has respect for everyone, and a strong love for family and people close to him. But there is a change in character when Victor goes to Ingolstadt. Here he discovers a way how to create life, and spends a lot of time trying to establish the exact method to which life will be created. At first, Victor concentrates on how to create life so that he could prevent any death caused “by disease” or need of healthy organs. However this thought of glory evolves into something more drastic and evil, whereby Victor thinks “a new species would bless (him) as its creator and source”.
Whilst Victor is working on how to create life, he neglects his family. This made them worry and Elizabeth wonder if Victor had found another woman. In a way, Victor also neglects nature during this period as well. He remains in his laboratory most of the days and when he goes out, it is to aid his project and often evolves monstrous activity like “collecting materials”; as in body parts. In my opinion, another crime that Victor commits is the fact he didn’t care or want to know what happened to the monster that he creates, once he knew it is deformed and ugly: His yellow skin scarcely covered the covered the work of the arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and following; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a horrid contrast with his watery eyes. (Volume 1, Chapter 5, p59)
As the monster has to grow up on his own and live his dependent years by himself, he often endures vicious reactions from the people he encounters due to his appearance. Victor should have given further thought before making the monster about how he was going to be accepted into society, and what assistance he would give the monster. The monster suffers a lot of hardship as a result of Victor’s lack of forward planning and responsibility. Once Victor finds out that the monster has killed William in the story, he seeks revenge instead of realising why the monster had taken such actions. This really is the starting point to which Victor starts to really hate the monster and risk his life chasing it. This presents Victor as cowardly, as if getting revenge is going to endanger his life, is it really worth it?
When Victor meets the monster on the peak of Montanvert, he is at first very rude to his creation calling it a “devil” and a “vile insect”. This is also where the monster demands Victor to make him a female: You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. (Volume 2, Chapter 9, p147) At first Victor refuses, however when the monster says that “neither (he) nor any other human being shall see (me or my companion) again”, Victor agrees and we can see selfishness in what he does. All that Victor wants is for the monster to leave his family alone, and he will do anything, even if it means possibly endangering others, to get the tranquillity that he desires.
When Victor has nearly created the monster a female companion, he realises the danger of him doing so. If the monsters did reproduce, then “a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth”. He again thinks about what would happen to him, and whether he will be glorious or detested: I shuddered to think that future ages might curse me as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price, perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race. (Volume 3, Chapter 3, p171)
Again we can see selfishness in Victor’s thoughts as he thinks about the way he will be thought of, and not of the danger it would present to the world. As a result he tears “to pieces the thing on which (he) was engaged”, while the monster was watching him and breaks his promise. This is especially hurtful to the monster, as Victor effectively kills his only love right in front of his eyes. We know that Victor does not learn anything from his pursuit for glory, as towards the closing stages of his life when he is talking to Walton, he advises him and his crew to go on with their expedition even though they might be at risk of their lives: Nor because the way smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror; because at every new incident, your fortitude was to be called forth and your courage exhibited.
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