“But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing.”- Frankenstein’s creature, pg. 243
“Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay?” Victor Frankenstein, pg. 82
During our study of Frankenstein, we have examined Victor Frankenstein and his creature. As readers, we have been submitted to Victor’s point of view throughout the entire story. We know exactly how he feels about his creation; on my occasions, he Victor has referred to him as a “demon”, “wretch”, “beast”, etc. However, just because we are told these things about the creature, doesn’t make these titles true. Which leads me to wonder…
Who is the real “monster” of Mary Shelley’s famous novel?
The first way to start answering this complicated question is to give the term “monster” a definition. Dictionary.com gives a few definitions, the most useful being 3-“Monster”; any animal or human grotesquely deviating from the normal shape, behavior, or character; and 4- “Monster”; a person who excites horror by wickedness, cruelty, etc.
Based on these definitions alone, we could say that both Frankenstein and his creation are monsters. The creature is a “monster” based on his grotesque and terrifying physical appearance. Victor is a “monster” based on his rejection and cruelty directed toward his creation.
We are told continuously by Victor that the creature is a monster….but is he really? Yes, he has wretched looks and commits gruesome murders. However, this creature is a product of his environment. He was not “born” from love; he came to life as a result of Victor’s consuming dark obssession with “playing God”. As soon as the creature was alive and breathing, Victor was horrified and disgusted with him and rejected him immediately. This is quite the opposite of what happens when babies are born to happy and excited parents. Instead of receiving love and acceptance, the creature is regarded as the devil and shut out from Victor’s life; “But when I discovered that he, the author at once of my exsistence and of its unspeakable torments…that while he accumulated wretchedness and despair upon me…” (Frankenstein’s creature, pg. 241). The creature is sensitive and emotional; his main goal in life to share it with someone who is similiar to himself. I felt compassion for him because he was pushed away and negatively labeled, even before he did anything wrong (like murdering William). It’s not the creature’s fault that he was created, and not his fault that he was abandoned by his creator.
Victor Frankenstein may not be hideous or look other-wordly, but he possesses devilish characteristics. What kind of twisted person devotes several years of their life robbing graveyards and constructing a human body out of decomposing human body parts? Frankenstein admits, “I seemed to have lost all soul and sensation but for this one pursuit” (pg 82). Once his creation is alive. he immediately rejects him and treats him like a demon, when the creature had done nothing wrong. What can you say about a person who makes “monsters” and then punishes them? In my opinion, Victor Frankenstein is the true “monster” of the story.