Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ is a story about a man called Victor Frankenstein who makes a monster out of other people’s body parts. It was written in 1816 and published in 1818. This story came to be written because Mary and her associates had a challenge to see who could write the best gothic horror story. Gothic horror was popular in that time because of all the bloodshed in the French revolution which made people want to see blood, violence and torture. Many gothic horrors had people rising from the dead because a man named Luigi made a dead frog jerk using electricity and there where many other reasons. Mary Shelley’s acquaintances didn’t take this seriously but that night Mary had a dream in which the story came to her. All the deaths in Mary’s life influenced the story a little. By closely examining the novel I will investigate how Mary Shelley makes us, the reader, sympathise with the monster. In doing so I will look at themes, language and the characters.
When Victor Frankenstein creates his monster all he sees in it is resentment and revulsion, Victor abuses the monster and this must make it feel even worse. “Abhorred monster! Fiend thou art!…Wretched devil!” says Victor as he meets the monster on the mountain. The monster says to Victor “I am your Adam” but Victor describes the monster as been work of the devil.
Mary Shelley repeatedly shows us how Victor turns his back on the monster, for example, in this quote, ‘Begone! I will not hear you. There can not be any community between you and me; we are enemies’. You can tell that Victor is turning his back on the monster, even though it’s his own creation because he calls it “Abhorred monster! Fiend thou art! The tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil!” This makes us feel sorry for the monster because all the monster wants is to be friends and be loved by victor but victor hates his own creation.
Fiend That Thou Art
The monster is often seen in a sympathetic light. For example in this quote “Be calm! Intreat you to hear me before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough that you seek to increase my misery?”, the monster. is human in a way. Even, though he is made out of different materials, he still has feelings like a normal human being and he is calm and intelligent not the fiend Victor has described him to be.
In their conversation on the sea of ice, we see Victor behaving like a monster verbally abusing the creature, where as, Frankenstein is more civil, he’s telling Victor to calm down. If Mary Shelley portrayed Victor more like a calm gentle person, we would probably feel more sympathetic towards him but instead, in my opinion; Victor is a very cruel man which makes me feel sympathy for the monster.
Quotes such as ‘Farewell! I leave you, and in you the last of human kind, these eyes will ever behold, farewell, Frankenstein! If thou wert yet alive’. And ‘But soon’ he cried with sad and solemn enthusiasm, ‘I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt, soon these burning miseries will be extinct’. Make us, the reader; see the monster in a better light. We feel sympathy for him and wish that Victor treated him different. I believe Mary Shelley has done this deliberately because at first people see Frankenstein as a bad person so they try to kill him, but now, when he is about to kill himself we see how sad he is.
Mary Shelley uses a metaphor of Adam and Eve to develop our sympathy towards the monster, she has the monster say to Victor ‘Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be they Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed’. Here the monster is trying to say why is Victor treating me like this, he is the one who created me, but now wants nothing to do with me, I’m just a thrown away experiment.
Mary Shelley wants us to think that the creature wants to belong to a family. This is a powerful image because the monster wants brothers and sisters and parents, he just wants to be loved, and if he doesn’t have love the reader can tell that he needs to be loved and they show a lot of sympathy towards Frankenstein.
In conclusion, the readers sympathise for the ‘monster’ Frankenstein, because they know that he will never have a family to love him and he will never love. I think this story has a very strong connection with society today, Frankenstein was judged on the way he looked, and people today are judged on the way they look, people need to see that it isn’t how you look, its how you act.