The true faults in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Although Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, written in 1818, is considered the first science fiction novel, the gothic tale of a young scientist who creates life from a corpse is as equally a story about human frailty as it is about futuristic science or technology. By comparing and contrasting Victor Frankenstein, the scientist, and the creature he brings to life, our perception of each character changes throughout the story. Each becomes in some ways like the other. Initially, Victor is perceived as a victim and the creature is understood to be a monster. Over time, their roles reverse as the creature’s frustration and loneliness make him seem more human and Victor is revealed to be the true monster of the story. It is evident that the creature transitions from benevolent to malicious, and Victor transitions from an innocent scientist to a negative force in his life and those around him. Though Victor first appears to be the benevolent character, it is evident that the heinous crimes that occur are not caused by the creature, but by Victor’s own blind ambition.
From the creature’s first awakening, he provokes disgust and terror in his creator. Overwhelmed with horror at his own invention, Victor runs in fear and abandons the creature. Yet, the creature is not inherently evil. In fact, his character is initially vulnerable and innocent. For example, Shelley describes his first moments of life as being filled with a “strange multiplicity of sensations.” He could “distinguish nothing: but feel pain invade [him] on all sides” (Shelley 86) and he sat down and wept. These descriptions of his first moments clarify to the reader that the initial intentions of the creature were not evil. He may appear dangerous, but he has no intention to harm. Likewise, the creature’s lack of malice is evident early, when he is bewildered by the cause of the villagers’ hateful reaction to him. After the creature teaches himself to survive, he finds himself near a prosperous village where he has one of his first interactions with humans after being “desolated” (Shelley 90) by Victor. The creature has no evil intentions, he is simply looking for food and warmth. Shelley tells the reader that the creature had only been in sight for a few moments “before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted… some fled, some attacked… until,” he is “grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons” (Shelley 89). Throughout this traumatic episode, the creature does not retaliate. He displays no aggression, only confusion and sadness. He is unaware that he is perceived as a monster and is still too innocent to fight back. Similarly, the creature’s lack of malevolence is further illustrated when he shows reasoning and compassion in his eventual efforts to help the DeLacey family. The creature begins to observe the DeLacey family and notices how they react in certain situations. ...