Victim or Genius? Frankenstein Essay Example

Society often puts labels on everything such as good or bad, normal or weird, smart or dumb. Although some of these labels are accurate, most are misinterpretations that society has falsely applied. In Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein, society’s act of false labeling is very evident. After reading this piece one might have already formed the perception that Victor Frankenstein’s creation is a hideous, evil, cruel monster and Victor Frankenstein himself is the victim. But after further investigation, this label could not be more wrong. Victor Frankenstein is actually the monster, more so than the creature he created.

Victor Frankenstein is perceived by most as the victim of the actions of his creation, but when one dives deeper into his own actions and characteristics the exact opposite is found. When Victor first comes to the University of Ingolstadt he meets a professor by the name of Waldman in a chemistry lecture. Following the chemistry lecture and several subsequent meetings with Waldman, Victor decides to pursue studies in the sciences. This leads Victor to delve into the mystery of the creation of life, spending years of his life studying to unlock this mystery he ignores both his social life and family. Secretly he constructs a mangled corpse made up of body parts dug up in a cemetery and uses his extensive research to play god and animate this corpse, creating the monster. 

Victor’s Inhuman Characteristics

At the creation of this monster Shelley states, “He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped, and rushed down stairs. I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited” (Shelley 40), which shows Victor’s instinct to abandon his creation at the instance it was created, not even giving it a chance, forming an evil opinion about it. This already reveals one of his negative characteristics to avoid the consequences of his actions. When Victor returns, “I could hardly believe that so great a good fortune could have befallen me; but when I became assured that my enemy had indeed fled, I clapped my hands for joy, and ran down to Clerval” (Shelley 42), he is overjoyed at the sight that the monster has fled from the room, again not caring at all about what harm his creation could have already caused. This is only the beginning of several inhuman characteristics shown by Victor. 

Not only does he avoid taking responsibility for his actions, but Victor portrays characteristics of selfishness, hostility, and immoral behavior. Victor’s immoral behavior can be identified by his objective view of Elizabeth. When he talks of Elizabeth Victor states, “No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me--my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only.” (Shelley 22), showing that his relationship with her is based on possession of her instead of emotional feelings or love. No moral human being would objectify their future wife the way that Victor does. His selfishness is also a characteristic that some would say is unnatural, first shown when Victor abandons his creature without care of further consequences.

The biggest example of his selfishness is found during Justine’s trial for the murder of Victor’s brother William. During this event Victor keeps his knowledge of the monster to himself, “During this conversation I had retired to the corner of the prison-room, where I could conceal the horrid anguish that possessed me” (Shelley 67), not caring of the consequences that Justine must endure because of his own actions. This is clearly inhuman, no reasonable human being would have kept information that could save an innocent girls life to themselves.

Victor’s final inhuman characteristic of hostility is revealed late in the novel after the monster requests that Victor make him a companion. After months of preparation and work on the second monster, Victor decides to destroy the companion, “The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended on for happiness, and, with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew” (Shelley 139), making him the actual monster for depriving a human being of any love and companionship. Because the monster's actions were the causation of Victor’s neglect, this act of hostility is not justified. Not only are Victor’s characteristics inhuman, but his actions against the monster are unjustified because of his abandonment and neglect. 

Depicting the Monster

The views placed on the monster such as hideous, evil, and cruel are false. In fact, the monster is far more human than Victor is, it is only Victor’s actions throughout the novel lead the monster to act in this way. It all starts with Victor’s initial abandonment at the birth of the monster, which forces the monster to grow and learn by himself as a blank slate. When the monster finally gets to tell his tale of emergence into existence it is obvious that he possesses human traits.

The monster starts off by describing his birth, then goes into his discoveries of thirst, hunger, and cold. At the discovery of fire and warmth, the monster says that this feeling gave him pleasure, something that Victor never mentions he feels. The monster continues to search for food and water stumbling upon a village where he learns that people are scared of him and flee on sight. After learning this the monster finds that he can spy on a few villagers through a crack in the wall. His ability to quickly pick up on language and writing skills are small examples of his humanity. During the monsters stay he is stealing food from the villagers until the section in which Shelley states, “This trait of kindness moved me sensibly.

I had been accustomed, during the night, to steal a part of their store for my own consumption; but when I found out that in doing this I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained, and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots, which I gathered from a neighboring wood” (Shelley 88), where the monster learns valuable morals of right and wrong. The monster is responsible and quits stealing from the villagers because he recognizes that it inflicts pain on them which he does not like. Not only does he quit stealing, but the monster also starts providing wood for their fires to keep them warm.

Throughout the monster’s story, it is clear that he possesses proper human morals. The constant rejection of the society that the monster faces is what causes him to seek revenge upon his creator, all of which could have been avoided if Victor had not abandoned him. In an article addressing the views that the monster and Victor have of each other by Kavey, he states, “Victor establishes himself as a scientist bent on unknotting nature’s secrets and then asserts himself as a godlike creator. He rejects the role of father, entwined as it is with love and responsibility, as clearly as he rejects the Creature. But the Creature does not receive this memo, and he reacts to Victor’s rejection like a very powerful toddler, and later like a very angry adolescent.

He perceives Victor as his creator, certainly, but also as a father” (Kavey), giving more incite into the reason that the monster takes Victor’s rejection so personal. Even though Victor did not perceive the monster as his son, the monster looked at Victor not only as his creator, but his father. Although the monster intended to seek revenge upon Victor, in the end, he still showed great compassion for his creator.

On the ship of Walton when Victor dies the monster is found, “When he heard the sound of my approach, he ceased to utter exclamations of grief and horror, and sprung towards the window” (Shelley 187), grieving over his dead creator, showing greater compassion than Victor could have ever possessed. Through all of the hardship and anguish that the monster went through he still continued to show how human he actually was in the end.

Whose Fault?

Some would say that the monster is inhuman because he killed all of those people, but actually, it was all caused by Victor Frankenstein’s actions and the rejection of society. The main reason for the murders committed by the monster is Victor’s actions of abandonment and neglect. The monster was found to be kind, loving, and compassionate through his own narrative.

It is not until the monster breaks down from the constant rejection of the society that he commits these heinous acts, all of which could have been avoided through proper education, nurturing, and protection by Victor. Not only was rejection a cause, the destruction of the second monster by Victor finally set off the fuse in the monster.

This second creation was to be the only source of future happiness for the monster but Victor had to take that away as well. In an article by Bissonette, it is found that readers should stress the importance of the monster’s narrative, “We are all charmed by the monster's own narrative of his yearnings, trials, and traumas. We feel that of the two characters, creator and creation, we would far rather spend time with the creation. He is kinder, more loving, and more poetic than his creator.

The tragedy of the book is so transparently the way the world deforms and embitters him. If he is a monster, it is the society that made him so. He is, then, only a metaphor of a monster.” (Bissonette), showing that he is not only human, but he demonstrates greater morals than that of his creator. This section also presents the idea that the world turns him into the “monster” that he is shown to be, proving it was all causation by Victor and society.

In conclusion, after extensive analysis, society’s labeling of Victor Frankenstein and the monster are completely flipped. The monster is actually the more human character, while Victor displays several characteristics that are inhuman. Not only are Victor’s characteristics inhuman, but his actions against the monster are unjustified because of his abandonment and neglect. Even though the monster experienced scaring hardships from birth and rejection of the society, he still continued to display characteristics of compassion in the end. In fact, it is the world that turns him into the monster he is perceived to be.