Mary Shelley’s Tragic Hero
Tragedy shows no discrimination and often strikes down on those undeserving of such turmoil. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a creature more repulsive than one can imagine is brought to life by a young scientist. Although this creature is horrifying in sight, he is gentle by nature. Unfortunately, the softer side of the creature is repeatedly overlooked and the so called “monster” is driven to a breaking point. Even though the Creature committed many crimes, Mary Shelley’s Creature was the tragic hero of this story because of his efforts rescue the life of a young girl and helping destitute cottagers.
A monster can be characterized by an extreme deviation from the normal standards of society including an internal or external wickedness. In the case of Mary Shelley’s Creature, his appearance overwhelms those who lay eyes upon him. A mere glance can send a villager running for the hills. It was not until the Creature caught a glance of his own reflection that he understood why villagers were so afraid of him. The realization of his ghastly appearance began the monster’s journey into hopelessness. In Peter Brooks’ article he writes, “Self recognition as the ‘filthy type’ completes the mirror stage of the Monsters development.” (Brooks 377). Seeing oneself as ugly and slovenly can cast shadows on even the most compassionate of hearts.
In the beginning the Creature is born with a kind heart. While traveling through the forest the creature comes up on a small child playing on the side of a river. When the child misses a step and the Creature springs into action to save a stranger. In her story Shelley writes, “’I rushed from my hiding place, and, with extreme labour from the force of the current, saved her, and dragged her to shore.’” (99, Vol. II, Chap. VIII). An act so selfless cannot be performed by a supposed demon. It is what the Creature is given in return that gives fuel to a fiery rage.
It is unusual for a rescuer to be met with a less than gracious response. A few moments gone from saving the young child’s life the Creature is confronted by her guardian. After the girl is snatched from the Creature’s arms he follows the pair into the forest and is compensated for his actions with a bullet. Shelley recounts the Creatures experience: “’this was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and, as recompence, I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound…’” (99, Vol. II, Chap. VIII). It is in this instance that the Creature realizes that no matter how good of a deed he performs, he will undoubtedly be punished.
The Creature is also rewarded with a less than welcoming experience when he reveals himself to the cottagers for the first time. After his journey through a village, the Creature had decided to take shelter in the family’s shed to hide from the dreary weather. Referring to the people who lived in the cottage as his “friends”, the Creature felt an affection toward...