Poor Parenting Revealed In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

1154 words - 5 pages

"Victor Frankenstein, does not live up to his role model. He lacks compassion for his creation" (Madigan 3)

 

A predominant theme in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is that of child-rearing and/or parenting techniques.  Specifically, the novel presents a theory concerning the negative impact on children from the absence of nurturing and motherly love.  To demonstrate this theory, Shelly focuses on Victor Frankenstein’s experimenting with nature, which results in the life of his creature, or “child”.  Because Frankenstein is displeased with the appearance of his offspring, he abandons him and disclaims all of his “parental” responsibility.  Frankenstein’s poor “mothering” and abandonment of his “child” leads to the creation’s inevitable evilness.    Victor was not predestined to failure, nor was his creation innately depraved.  Rather, it was Victor’s poor “parenting” of his progeny that lead to his creation’s thirst for vindication of his unjust life, in turn leading to the ruin of Victor’s life.

Originally, Frankenstein had planned to use the results of his investigations to help mankind, but this focus soon transformed into an exhausting obsession; he became only concerned with the means, rather than the ends of his ambitious adventures.  Therefore, Frankenstien did not take into account that he would be responsible for the outcome of his studies, namely the mothering, protecting and caring for the creation.

Victor never even fathomed the actual existence of the creature, somewhat resembling an unplanned pregnancy that was never emotionally and rationally dealt with even after the actual birth of the child.  He certainly did not adequately prepare himself for parenthood. 

One example of Victor’s complete disregard for his “expected child” is demonstrated in part by his absolute inattention to the creature’s physical appearance.  He gives the creature a gigantic frame and grotesque figure.  He never considered how such a creature, being so different, would be able to coexist with human beings or live a normal life.

The fact that his creation was not given a name is another significant example of Victor’s indifference for his “child”.  “The absence of a name denies a child the knowledge of his origin and familial connection.” (Defrain 21)  Not only does the monster lack a name and place in society, but he never experienced motherly-love and tenderness upon his birth, which is crucial to the healthy growth and development of any new being. 

Frankenstein describes the “birth” of his “child” not with the typical affection of a new mother, but with complete repulse:  “I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open: it breathed hard and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs (Shelley, p.58).”  The first words his creation heard were the harsh words of his creator shouting: “abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art.”  He does not rejoice or receive his “child” with kindness, as a loving mother would; he instead rushes out of...

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