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Who Is the Real Monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

Essay by   •  March 12, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,077 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,047 Views

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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) wrote the novel, Frankenstein, in her late teens to her early twenties. It was her most famous work and was published in early 1818 it was to become the most famous Gothic Horror story ever written. Shelley lived in a time where the field of science progressed immensely. Science, because of its links to the supernatural, then became part of the emergence of Gothic Horror as a genre. Since then it has been frequently used in Gothic Horror when using the connection to the unexplained and supernatural. In Gothic Horror the unexplained is built in with emotion. The emotion brings a bit of realism to the story; otherwise it would sound to far-fetched. Also the introduction of emotions makes the novel sound more personal.

Moving on to the story I will now start by telling you who Frankenstein is. Frankenstein is not in fact the creation he is the creations creator (note- for this essay I have decided to refer to the monster, as he is referred to in the book, as the creation). This is one of the most common mistakes people, who haven't read Frankenstein, make. Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who is human, is portrayed as a mad scientist kind of figure. I will now go on to describe the plot.

The story starts by Frankenstein being picked up by a ship, sailed by Walton, near the artic in the North Sea. He tells Walton his story, recalling what he had just experienced. Frankenstein had a happy childhood, with his adoptive sister, Elizabeth. He fell in love with her and one day, they were to get married. Frankenstein then reveals his ambitions and his interest in science. Frankenstein then creates the creation, but runs away from it. The creation, who has been left alone, gets angry and kills Frankenstein's brother. An innocent woman is executed for the crime, Justine. Frankenstein, who knows that the real killer is his creation, feels really guilty. Frankenstein is then ordered by the creation to create another, female, version of him. Frankenstein begins to do this but then destroys his second creation. The creation then threatens Frankenstein. Frankenstein is then arrested for the death of his best friend but then released. Frankenstein marries Elizabeth. The creation then kills Elizabeth. Frankenstein's father then also dies. Frankenstein, seeking revenge, chases after the creation. The chase concludes at the North Pole where Frankenstein is consequently found to tell his story.

I think there are litigable reasons why either Frankenstein or his creation can be considered the monster. Firstly the creation can easily considered the monster because of his monstrous looks and all of his deformities. He also is abnormal in several ways. He learns in an uncharacteristically, superhuman way, very fast; he learned to walk in his first few days, he learned to speak fluently in English in his first year and he has learnt most of the things that takes average human years to learn in his first two years. He has also murdered several times, which is a characteristic we usually associate with monsters. Frankenstein also frequently describes the creation in an obscene manner, although this opinion is probably biased. There are also many reasons why Frankenstein can be considered the 'monster'. Firstly his Psychopathic like personality. He can change his mentality on things really quickly, like creating his creation. He also uses superhuman capabilities to create the creation, as it was, and still is, seen as impossible to bring humans back to life. This act is like playing god or more relevantly the devil, as reincarnating people from dead bodies would be considered supernatural, or some would say evil.

I will now further investigate who should be considered the real monster in the novel Frankenstein. Firstly I will describe the appearance of Frankenstein and the creation. There is not much to say about Frankenstein when describing 'monstrous looks' as he is human, but when speaking to his friend Clerval the day after he had created his creation, Clerval says.

'I did not before remark how very ill you appear, so thin and pale...'

This suggests he has taken on an abnormal appearance during his illness. The creation is described as being abnormal in size and looks throughout the novel. Frankenstein says.

'I beheld the wretch - the miserable monster whom I had created'

He also says.

'...listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the daemoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life'

Frankenstein said these only moments after he had created his creation, showing that the creation has a very bad first impression. These quotes also reveal that Frankenstein is afraid of the creation. Someone in chapter 11 also shows the fear of this creature. At some point during this chapter, in the early stages of the creatures life, he attempts to save a young girl from drowning, when he succeeds the girls father begins to hit him because he thought, dew to the creations looks, that he was trying to kill his daughter. This shows that the average person would reject a being, such as the creation. The creation is also abnormal because he was formed from bits of corpses and stitched together in a crude way. Not only this but he was also not naturally born, which was thought to be physically impossible especially in the 19th century but, as yet, still is. He therefore is considered supernatural or even unnatural which is considerably monstrous. When the monster first sees his reflection in a puddle he describes himself as having yellow skin with black-pursed lips. These features can easily describe what the typical idea of a monster is. I also think, concluding the section I have wrote on appearance, that when children think of monsters they are typically lead to believe that 'Frankenstein' is a typical monster. Also the creature from Frankenstein is probably the most famous monster ever.

Now moving on to intelligence I will now discuss what affects intelligence has on us when we are considering who is the real monster. Intelligence is not usually a quality we would commonly associate with monsters, as monsters are usually portrayed as being fairly stupid. Dr. Victor Frankenstein in this novel, as you can tell from his title, is very intelligent. We also know he has been to university.

'When I had attained the age of seventeen my parents resolved that I should become a student at the university of Ingolstadt.'

The only problem with Frankenstein is how he uses his intelligence. Firstly he creates the monster that he then rejects, which then leads to the consequential murders.

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