Frankenstein is a Gothic horror story written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the only daughter of the anarchist, atheist, philosopher and journalist, William Godwin and his first wife Mary Wollstonecraft, a famous radical feminist, writer and philosopher who died only ten days after giving birth to Shelley. Therefore she was brought up by her father and his second wife. This meant that she did not get much love and attention as her relationship with her step-mother was difficult; her loneliness increased even more from the age of three, when her beloved nanny was dismissed. Consequently she spent most of her childhood reading, day-dreaming and writing stories, having some of her work published at the age of eleven. Subsequently, she experienced life in the loving home of another family before marrying Percy Bysshe Shelley at the age of 18. In the summer of 1816, whilst on holiday with him at Lake Geneva in Switzerland their friend Lord Bryon challenged them all to write a ghost story. The idea for Frankenstein came to her as a result. The story had similarities to her own life as like her self Frankenstein lost his mother in childbirth. The novel took her about a year to write; it was published on January 1st 1818 and its themes, exploring the nature of humanity and the creation of life, inspired many interpretations in films, most famously ‘Frankenstein’ by Universal Studios in 1931.
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When Frankenstein created the monster, he didn’t even stop to give him a name before rushing away in horror, signifying to the monster that he was not loved or wanted as even animals are given names. In Chapter 11, in his own words, he is ‘Tormented by hunger and thirst’ increasing his sense of worthlessness as, unlike an animal, he doesn’t even know how to feed or look after himself. In Chapter Five, when Frankenstein brings him to life he declares, ‘no mortal could support the horror of that countenance’ which emphasizes the fact that the monster is not natural and demonises him still further. This statement also shows that his own creator doesn’t think he is ‘mortal’ but that he is a ‘wretch’. In addition his first experiences in life have taught him that his creator doesn’t him want so who’s to say anybody else would want him. Once abandoned by Frankenstein the monster has to learn to look after him self without any help from anybody and in Chapter 11 he is again shown how people treat him when he goes in to the village he is shunned; ‘children shrieked’ and he was ‘grievously bruised by stones.’ The monster’s description of events emphasizes his kindness and his desire to be good, as shown by his description in Chapter 15, ‘My heart sank within me as with bitter sickness.’
his benevolence, despite all his hardships, when he assists a family of peasants, the De Lacy family, and saves a girl from drowning.
However, because of his appearance he is rewarded with hatred, beatings and looks of repulsion; finally, he is shot and wounded. Chapter 16 is the turning point in the monster’s transition from victim to villain; “The feelings of kindness and gentleness which I had entertained but a few moments gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind.” This shows that despite all his efforts to gain the respect and love of humans, nobody treats him with any love and kindness and so the monster finally resorts to treating people the way they treat him. This is summed up by his statement in Chapter 24, ‘Evil thenceforth became my good.”
One could argue that the monster is a villain because his instinctive reaction to maltreatment is murder and revenge, showing that he is evil by nature. This evil is just under his skin and once his skin has been scratched and damaged the evil seeps out. The monster has never experienced rage or revenge thus suggesting that such emotions and reactions are an innate part of him as he was formed from the body parts of scoundrels and murderers. All of his murders were premeditated as he vented his frustration, anger and resentment at being abandoned, by killing those closest to his creator. This is shown in Chapter 24 when the monster says to Frankenstein ‘We shall soon enter upon a journey where your sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred.’ In Chapter 16 the first of his victims, Victor’s beloved younger brother William, was told, “You will never see your father again!” This statement confirms that he is acting on his anger of being abandoned. No sooner had the monster killed William than he framed the servant Justine for the crime thus condemning her to an unjust conviction and execution. Subsequent to asking Frankenstein, in Chapter 24, to make him a companion of his own kind; “You must create a female for me.” He learns that Frankenstein has no intention of granting this one wish; “I will never consent.” So he kills Henry Clerval as he is Frankenstein’s life long friend. This deprives Frankenstein of companionship as the monster has been deprived and denied the one opportunity to have one for him self. Frankenstein suffers further when his father dies as a result of the monster’s deeds. Not satisfied with causing the deaths of four people close to Frankenstein, the monster vows to kill Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s wife, jeering, “Remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night.”
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Frankenstein’s monster can be perceived as a victim because he was shown no love by his creator, abandoned at birth and treated unkindly and cruelly by those he tried to help. On the other hand, he can be distinguished as a villain not just because he may have been created in an evil way, but because he chooses to exert his revenge and his crimes are premeditated. In my opinion the monster is both victim and villain but not at the same time, for I believe that he tried to overcome his terrible start to life by being kind and helpful to fellow creatures. However he was rejected and ill-treated so many times that he could no longer keep resentment and revenge inside him self. It was inevitable that such monstrous treatment from others would lead him to monstrous deeds.
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