Creature or Monster? How does Shelley's presentation of the Creature
and Frankenstein create sympathy or horror at different stages of the
novel? Who is the real monster?
The novel "Frankenstein" was written by Mary Shelley as a teenager
during the 19th century. It was set in Germany in the 18th century, as
this was a time of exploration and discovery with scientists and
astrologists challenging the accepted order of things and breaking
through new boundaries with their discoveries. Many were beginning to
question the existence of God, the creator of life and the universe,
too. This was in keeping with Shelley's novel because it is a story
about a young man who discovered the secret of life, which is the
equivalent of doing what only God can do, how to create it and the
problems his discovery led to.
This man was called Viktor Frankenstein. He came from a wealthy family
who were both loving and supportive. He falls in love with Elizabeth,
his adopted sister, and all is well until his mother dies of Scarlet
Fever. This tears him apart as they were very close and influences him
and his future greatly. He determines to become a doctor to find the
secret of life so no one need ever die again. This leads him to
Ingolstadt University where he is further influenced when he finds out
that one of the professors there has also experimented with creating
life. He uncovers the truth and ignoring all warnings, begins making
his creature from the parts of dead bodies. His unhealthy obsession
leads him to neglect his family, friends and studies while he works
day and night in a hidden attic. It is this unnatural obsession that
gives the novel its first spark of horror.
Frankenstein is shocked, horrified and disgusted by the creature that
he had slaved over, for nearly two years. He had expected it to be a
thing of beauty and in some ways it was,
"His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his fine features as
beautiful skin barely covered the work of muscles and arteries
beneath lustrous black pearly whiteness " These descriptions describe
the creature as Frankenstein had imagined it to be, beautiful flowing
hair, strong muscles and the whitest teeth, a being of perfection.
However, as soon as the creature opened it's eye Frankenstein realised
the horror of what he had done,
"These luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast watery eyes,
that seemed almost the same colour as the dun white sockets in which
they were set shrivelled complexion straight black lips." This
description now makes the creature seem more like an old corpse that
should still be in it's grave, a zombie that has escaped and come back
to live on Earth once more.
Frankenstein is also no longer seeing the miracle of science which he
had strived to create, deprived himself of rest and health for, cut
himself away from those that he had once loved and who loved him for,
instead, he is seeing a monster.
The creature however, had...