Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley in the early nineteenth century, tells the tale of a genius, Victor Frankenstein, who creates a man-monster whose name is eventually mispronounced as Frankenstein. Victor creates a creature that he comes to despise as a result of his discovery of a way to give inanimate objects life (Bissonette 106). The author portrays the beast as more likable, intelligent, and compassionate. It is ironic, though, that the human maker, scientist Victor Frankenstein, is less moral than his monster. After reading this fantastic literary work, one is left wondering about the scientist’s sanity. Perhaps, he is more deserving of the ‘mad scientist’ title many critics label him with.
Upon reading this book, one would surely be more compassionate of the monster than the scientist, who is depicted as reckless, making mistakes that would ultimately be his end. Thus, it is educational to the readers wishing to turn a new leaf in their lives. Unlike Victor Frankenstein, human beings are required to learn from their mistakes, rather than fall by them. The scientist ends up losing his brother and spouse (Denson 531). Such loss is tantamount to failure and destruction. The story shows cases of virtue among the characters herein. However, these noble acts are often met with a lot of resistance, as well as indecisions.
First, there is the vital issue of checking on one’s passion. Being overly ambitious is perilous. Despite his invention and creation seeming noble, Victor Frankenstein ends up creating a monster. Note that the scientific process was long and demanding. He acknowledges having almost sold his soul to the process in the months’ long experiments and tests. He was so much into research that he loses himself along with it (Bissonette 106). He turned into a nerd, not listening to his parents and professors who warned him against his pursuits. Perhaps, if he had paid attention to them during his early days in college, he would have averted the catastrophe that befell him. Surely, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, only that Frankenstein’s endeavors and obsessions made him a mad scientist! Complete immersion in his studies and research robbed him of the happiness of social life, having shunned his peers and parents. Although he would be happy whenever he broke for home, he would return to pursue his passion for humanity in the college labs when schools opened (Denson 532).
Despair is another obstacle. In many instances in the book; Frankenstein almost gives up his lifelong research. His pessimism makes him lament about the unfairness of the world against him. Thus, it is both annoying and disturbing to the reader. His fascination with blaming the gods and other powers therein for his woes shows his failure to accept responsibility for his actions and life. His blinding belief in fate and external forces for being to blame for consequences is unscientific of him (Bissonette 107). He failed at the most critical issues of humanity, self-esteem. Rather than pulling himself up to achieve his desired goals, he is resigned to inanimate fate, the gods and powers of his imagination.
Frankenstein’s failure to own up and take responsibility for his creation becomes his undoing. Instead of figuring out how to control his monster creation, he resorts to despair and doing nothing. In fact, he bolted from home, abandoning the monster thereby. He expects his doings to correct themselves by so doing. How that would happen, is a wonder even to the reader. Typically, people shy away from problems they cause, but they would usually try to fix them. On his part, Frankenstein acts cowardly over and over, failing to remedy his mistakes, despite having many opportunities to do so (Denson 534). When the monster kills Frankenstein’s brother, it frames Justine with full knowledge of Frankenstein. Shockingly, he turns a blind eye with a more lame excuse that nobody would believe as the murder occurred in his absence and he would be seen as insane- this shows the stretch of his madness. He lets an innocent Justine get killed for a crime she did not commit. He remains indecisive on handling the monster’s havoc even though he can fix it. He is afraid, the trait that prevents him from doing the society any kind, and instead, it makes him an accomplice in the troubles caused by the monster. He hurts from his inability to act with speed (Bissonette 110).
Poor social relations can also be blamed as acting against virtues. Having branded himself a nerd without time for fraternization, Frankenstein becomes a loner. With his friends and parents being so far away, he fixes himself on studies and research on the human body. Perhaps, would he have had friends, he would not have become so selfish and crazy. He would become himself again with his friend, Clerval, who would remind him of the pleasures of life (Bissonette 111). The author seems to point out that it was loneliness that pushed Frankenstein into the creation of the monster. Likely, he craved company and social connection that he reckoned he would get from his invention; however, it turns out otherwise.
Also, it is clear that the monster felt lonely (Denson 538). Having been abandoned by his creator, the monster turns to murdering people. He feels unwanted as nobody seems to care for him. Perhaps, if Frankenstein had shown him care, he would have acted otherwise. At some point, the monster is recorded as having made clear to Frankenstein his desire for a female mate. Interestingly, he says if he had one, he would cease from killing people and just disappear. His creator, despite his understanding of the human emotional aspect, turns down the monster’s request. The same loneliness that led to the creation of the monster leads to the beast turning violent and causing havoc to people. He targets Frankenstein’s close relations in the killing spree (Denson 540). Loneliness has been known as one strong causative agent for violence and vices. Accordingly, it is expected for the lonely Frankenstein and the monster to do despicable things.
Frankenstein and other humans fail to show compassion and acceptance to the monster because of his physique. They overlook the monster’s other desirable traits and judge him for what he looks like. Frankenstein even acknowledges times when he wished to console the beast, but he was put off by its appearance and substantial scary body. The monster desires affection and usual human association. However, he is denied this opportunity as people quickly scamper away when they see him. More painful is being chased by his creator, Frankenstein (Bissonette 115). He cannot even stand his creation; he is still focused on the past. Thus, it shows how difficult it would be for other people to accept the monster if his creator will not.
Despite Frankenstein trying to be better for the creature, later on, he is failed by his emotions. The monster acknowledges the strength of human senses as being paramount in the way they relate; they should like each other first. Although this is agreeable, it is unfair to judge others from their exterior outlook (Denson 543). Notably, it could be his way of payback for all the atrocities he has been subjected to, or a means to get recognized. The monster is forced to act cruelly against the people and its creator because of the way he is treated. Humans would also react in the same way to people who hate them for being what they are. There is a likelihood that with its normal human feelings of love, joy, and despair, the monster would have acted differently, were it loved and incorporated into the social lifestyle of the society.
Towards this end, it is fair to say that human actions of virtue are entirely dependent on our experiences and the attitudes of those we live with. Had Frankenstein listened to his parents and teachers, and kept more friends, the monster would not exist. Additionally, acceptance of the beast would have helped to avert the terror it caused.
Bissonette, Melissa Bloom. “Teaching the Monster: Frankenstein and Critical Thinking.” College Literature, 37.3 (2010): pp. 106120.
Denson, Shane. “Marvel Comics’ Frankenstein: A Case Study in the Media of Serial Figures.” Amerikastudien / American Studies, 56.4 (2011): pp. 531553.