Thursday, September 15th, 2011...2:00 am

Who’s the villain?

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When Frankenstein dies, he says that his creation:

“Shewed unparalleled malignity and selfishness, in evil: he destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom” (239).

But didn’t the creature posses ‘exquisite sensations’ and wisdom as well? In two years of self-education he was able to master eloquent speech and learn to read. He possessed a full range of emotions, as well as empathy; when he first tells his story to Frankenstein the creature says that his emotions fluctuated based on the conditions of the cottage-dwellers he was watching.

If these offenses are enough to condemn the monster, they must be enough to condemn Frankenstein as well, who created the creature only to abandon him. As a creator, he should have the same responsibilities as a parent, and yet Frankenstein ignored the creature’s education, upbringing, and emotions. Even before the creature had thought to kill, Frankenstein abandoned him. Yes, he was initially afraid, but he never afterwards attempted to find the creature—not until Frankenstein was trying to kill him.

Frankenstein’s evils go far beyond his treatment of the creature. He allowed a girl he knew to be innocent to be executed in place of his creation. He let Justine take the blame for a ‘murderer’ he crafted simply because he thought he would be perceived as mad. He didn’t so much as explain the monster to Clerval or Elizabeth, but let his family try endlessly to assuage his misery, only to have them die with no idea of what strange beast was killing them or why.

Now add to this that Frankenstein refused to create a second monster (which would have saved many lives) because it would ‘be wrong.’ But how can he use morality to justify this, after already proving himself to be immoral? When he says that his “duties towards my fellow creatures had greater claims to my attention” what could be possibly mean (238)? Did he have no duty to Justine? Or what about to Elizabeth, who he married and placed in danger without so much as telling her that there was a creature intent on killing him and his friends?

After all this, when Frankenstein dies the ‘monster’ visits his body and says:

“Oh, Frankenstein! Generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all though lovedst” (240).

Frankenstein and the creature have both harmed each other unto the point of death, but the creature is the only one who feels remorse. Frankenstein may have been telling the story, but he is far more the villain than the hero.



3 Comments

  • Julia, this blog post inspires the question, who is the monster and who is the victim? Yet, I feel that you conclude that Frankenstein is the true monster. “Frankenstein and the creature have both harmed each other unto the point of death, but the creature is the only one who feels remorse. Frankenstein may have been telling the story, but he is far more the villain than the hero.” While there is no doubt that he truly is a monster, I feel as if both Frankenstein and the demon are equally to blame for the chaos that ensued. Both characters experienced events that victimized them and caused monsterous actions, which you reveal above.

    However, I think it’s fair to argue that Frankenstein’s erratic behaviors of obsessing over death, grave robbing, and sewing together body parts stem from his overwhelming grief over losing his mother. It appears that Frankenstein’s actions reveal his personal search for the meaning of life. When it arrives, death enters the mind, body, and soul to create an irreversible change to the living and the dead who encounter it. This permanent change made to Frankenstein appears to spark his passion to become a creator, to re-create the change that was made to him and his mother. This strongly makes me question, had Frankenstein never met death, would it have ever possessed him to create life?

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