The or something as a monster –

The
misuse of power and the spiritual downfall into becoming a monster

 

C?lu?eriu Andreea-Ioana

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FI-EN

 

Abstract:
Nowadays we live in a highly modern society, where science improves daily and
we are currently faced with issues such as artificial intelligence, cloning,
genetics, neuroscience and stem cells, which question the limitations of
science and its possible complications. Since its apearance in 1818, Mary
Shelley’s Frankenstein  has been relevant as a beautiful work on
morality, ethics and temperance. Many critics have discussed the nature of
Victor Frankenstein’s monster, or the fact that the creator and the creation
are sometimes seen as a single being, but in my essay I will analyze them in an
objective manner to see what influences them in their choices and if The Creature is actually a monster. I
also discuss the implications and the dangers of getting involed in things that
overpower us, and I examine the reasoning that it takes to turn a human being
with good intentions into a monster.

              Keywords: science, monster,
power, society

The purpose of this paper is to take a closer look at
what exactly is a monster, and who is capable of  creating one. In Merriam-Wester dictionary, a
monster is “one who deviates from normal or
acceptable behavior or character” and in The Oxford Dictionary
the monster is defined as “a large, ugly, and
frightening imaginary creature. ”

The question is now  “what exactly construe someone or something as a monster
– its character or physique?”, and there is no better example to study than the
nameless creature of Victor Frankenstein, a being of repulsive appearance with
a powerful body capable of destruction, but also smart and keen on learning and
sharing human affection. Frankenstein’s Being is very complex, and unlike the
monsters in many other literary creations, who commit crimes for pleasure, the
Creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
possesses the same emotions and feelings as human beings, and turns to murder
as a last resort, after going through intense suffering and rejection.

The novel also explores the search for intellectual
power through science in the period of the industrial revolution, focusing on
the religious and moral aspects that this process implies.
The abuse of
power is seen throughout the novel and it starts with Victor Frankenstein’s
dream: he is a young man coming from a good family, with a devotion towards
science and knowledge, but his story soon turns into a tragedy for him not
being well-balanced in his scientific experiments. The creation of Frankenstein’s
monster is not seen as a revolutionary moment in the history of sciences, but
rather as a terrible burden the creator has to carry; he has to endure sorrow because
he disturbed the natural order of this world.

Victor Frankenstein’s creation is often referred to as
a monster and is constantly cursed by his creator and the people who come in
contact with him, even before he starts committing crimes: “How can I describe
my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such
infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?”1  .When
Victor brings his creation to life, he is horrified by the appearance the being
has, and instead of facing his actions, he decides to run away. He goes on
describing the being saying that “his
limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful.
Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and
arteries beneath.”2 . Frankenstein judged his
creation from the moment he made it purely based on the appearance, and he
never gave him a chance: as a creator, he should have been there for the being
he gave birth to. 

Starting
from Anne Mellor’s statement, that “Mary Shelley saw the creature as
potentially monstrous, but she never suggested that he was other than fully
human.” 3, we can see that Victor
Frankenstein fails again. He is disappointed with the creature’s height and
decides to build it of giant proportion, thus making it much stronger.
Frankenstein is naive and selfish, for he wishes to become powerful and praised
as a God, when in a moment of thrill he states that “a new species would bless
me as its

creator
and its source” 4.  He is completely blinded by ambitions and dreams, that he
fails to comprehend all the implications that it takes to create a new species;
he also fails to realise that his creation would indeed be of hideous
appearance, its body being made from horse remains: “the dissecting room and
the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials.” 5,
and through the novel, he is given several names by Victor, who either calls
him ‘fiend’, ‘daemon’ or ‘monster’.
Victor forces the creature to survive by itself in the cold winter and decides
to run away so he cannot be blamed for his actions.

The
‘monster’ is rejected by its maker
and is left
all alone. He has to take care of himself and learn how the world works; he is
smart, he has consciousness and feelings, and he tries to do anything possible
to be accepted. When he gets attached to the De Laceys, he educates himself and
helps the family from distance. He shows compassion and sensibility. The only
person who doesn’t judge him based on appearance  is the old, blind man, De Lacey. The creature
confesses to the man, who tries to encourage him: ”Do not despair. To be
friendless is indeed to be unfortunate, but the hearts of men, when
unprejudiced by any obvious self-interest, are full of brotherly love and
charity.” 6 When his children, Felix and
Agatha, return home and find the creature in the house, they attack him. The
Creature loved these people, yet they were terrified of what they saw, even
though his intentions were far from evil. When the Creature heard someone
screaming for help, he rushed and saved a girl from drowning, but the girl’s
father attacked him and even shot him. No matter what he did, he was still
horribly treated. Truly heartbroken, he promises revenge on the humanity, and
specifically on his creator , who abandoned him.

He goes to find Frankenstein, and
on the way catches and murders William Frankenstein, Victor’s younger brother.
William is, as all the other characters, prejudiced and is terrified by the
creature, even though the monster approaches him in a friendly manner, hoping
that the child  “had lived too short a
time to have imbibed a horror of deformity. If, therefore, I could seize him,
and educate him as my companion and friend, I should not be so desolate in this
peopled earth” 7. William proceeds insulting the
Creature, which loses his grip and murders the little child.  The horrible act of the Creature has terrible
consequences: Justine Moritz, a close friend of the Frankenstein family is
framed with the murder. Victor is tormented by guilt, but yet he doesn’t take
responsability for the murder and lets Justine die for a crime she did not
commit: “Justine also was a girl of merit and possessed qualities which
promised to render her life happy; now all was to be obliterated in an
ignominious grave, and I was the cause!” 8.
Victor is again selfish in this statement – he blames himself for creating the
monster, not for running away, leaving the creature roaming freely.

After
the tragic incident involving William and the rejection he faced once again,
the creature realizes that the only living thing
that would accept him would be another creature similar to him. He seeks
Frankenstein in the mountains and asks him for a female companion. At this
point, after hearing
his story, Victor feels empathy for his creation, but only for a short period
of time because he is once again overwhelmed by hostility and hatred.  The monster’s supplication is refused and
Victor is to blame for dispossessing a human being from love and affection, and
also for being in total control of someone else’s existence. At this point,
seeing that he is condemned to a life of total solitude, the creature threatens
Victor telling him that “I shall be with you on your wedding-night” 9.  Victor marries Elizabeth, but loses her at
the revenge of his creation, as a result of 
the monster losing his only possible companion.

The Creature in Frankenstein is a reject, brutally
alienated by a society that is not ready to accept the consequences of its
deeds. In this book, Mary Shelley shows that every action has a consequence and
that people should take full responsability for what they do, not only for
their own good but also for their families and for the people they love. As
Martin Tropp has stated, “the Monster’s agony as the hideous product of a
scientist’s flawed vision gives it no place to turn but to Satan for a mirror.
The goal of its existence becomes the damnation of its Maker.” 10 It can also show that a
monster is not characterized by the way it looks, but by its actions. Victor
Frankenstein is a human, therefore he is flawed, but because of his impetuous
pursuit of knowledge, he unleashes a force that he is not able to control: he
creates a human being much stronger than any other human, and before he gets a
chance to see what this creature is like, he and everyone else mistreats this
being, turning it from a good-hearted creature into a monster ready to kill;
society turned Frankenstein’s creature into a monster.