Is Frankenstein Innocent Or Guilty English Literature Essay
"I may die; but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful." -The Monster, Ch. 20
I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.
In Walton’s final letter to his sister, he recounts the words that the monster speaks to him over Victor’s dead body. This eruption of angry self-pity as the monster questions the injustice of how he has been treated compellingly captures his inner life, giving Walton and the reader a glimpse into the suffering that has motivated his crimes. This line also evokes the motif of abortion: the monster is an unwanted life, a creation abandoned and shunned by his creator.
Frankenstein was a man whose ambition led to a disaster; His actions led to evil. Is Frankenstein an innocent? In my opinion, he was not an innocent. The meaning of innocent is to free from evil or guilt. The word “Frankenstein” is defined in the dictionary (Encarta Dictionary) as “a creator of something that causes ruin or destruction, or brings about a personal downfall, showing a well suited name.
A common quotation is that “One is innocent until proved guilty”, If this quotation is applied to Victor Frankenstein, he would be innocent, for creating a human, which was morally and contextually incorrect; He would be innocent for allowing the murders of William, Justine, Elizabeth and Clerval to take place. It may be true that Frankenstein did not physically murder, however, he is the main cause, and the reason they died. Frankenstein never admitted to his families what he had done; he never took responsibility for his actions. The so called “monster” murdered for companionship, not to seek revenge from his victims, but to seek revenge from Frankenstein. The circumstances forced Frankenstein’s monster to do so, Victor was the instigator of these circumstances.
“My first thought was to discover what I knew of the murderer and cause instant pursuit to be made. But I paused when I reflected on the story I had to tell.”(Frankenstein, Mary Shelley), This shows that Victor had the knowledge that he was the reason William was dead. Frankenstein didn’t need to know about the murderer, because he indirectly was the murderer, through the circumstances he created for the monster, as I mentioned briefly before.
Frankenstein’s reason for creating the creature was his interest in his studies, which led him to the idea of bettering mankind. Victor thought he was doing a service to humanity by creating a “new human”.
"A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption." This quote shows his ego behind these plans. He wanted to conquer death, something the average human could not do. He wanted to be revered highly by this so called “perfect” and “beautiful” creature. According to him, it may have been acceptable to play the role of god; maybe his being a scientist is why he didn’t think of what was morally correct. However, the quote shows that right from the start, Victor had an idea of how he would somewhat be stepping into the shoes of a godlike figure, he outlines the fact that he would be superior, and he would have the power to renew the dead. This proves that he had no innocence, or naivety in terms of knowing precisely what he was doing and what it would lead to.
After creating his creature, on the basis of aesthetics, he shunned it. He may also have shunned it because he already conquered death, so in his view, he may have already obtained the status of god, or a superior power, something no one had achieved. He didn’t think about anything past the “ugliness” of the creature, or his personal benefits. His selfishness is what ultimately destroyed him and others as well.
The creature he created is more like a project to Frankenstein, his aim is to conquer death, and once he has done so, the project is over. Not once does he consider the fact that he has simply given birth to a new human being, with feelings and emotion, a live creature who has to be taught the ways of life as if it is a baby.
Frankenstein’s abandonment of the creature is another factor that proves him guilty, and not innocent. Frankenstein was wrong for being irresponsible, short sighted, and neglecting his creature. He didn’t give his creature anything he needed. It’s his own fault that the creature comes back saying "I may die; but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful." The creature was deprived of the companionship, which he could only get from his creator. The creature figures that the only way he can get some attention, is by threatening his creator.
This could be compared to a situation with a child and a parent. Frankenstein is somewhat the parent of his creature. His job is to nurture him, but because of his own ego, he runs away. If it were a parent and a child, the child would be defenceless because it hasn’t even developed physically, however the creature is an example where he is an uneducated child, with a higher physical strength. Frankenstein’s creature thinks through intuition, as any child who hasn’t learnt anything would do. He doesn’t know what’s right and wrong, so he doesn’t know it’s wrong to threaten; he doesn’t know it’s wrong to kill. Blaming him is like blaming a child for breaking a valuable, such as a vase. You can’t blame the child because their knowledge hasn’t developed, they haven’t yet learnt. However in the child’s case, after making such a mistake, the child would be taught not to do so again, creating a basis of how it is wrong, this does not take place for the creature. It could be argued that the creature should know through Victor’s fear, but does a child learn anything when it senses fear? No, it anything, it will only learn to keep intimidating.
Frankenstein’s faults of his creation, or you could say his faults in parenting, in fact started from the very beginning. Frankenstein’s creature is described as having dark black hair, yellow skin, black lips and eyes sunk into his sockets (Shelly 56). It’s quite ironic that Frankenstein feared his own creation, he is the one who hand-picked the features his so called perfect man would have. For him to say "breathless horror and disgust filled my heart"(56), towards a creation of his own, just shows his tendency towards aesthetics, and how backward he is in terms of being accepting, yet how forward he is in terms of doing something new. He is responsible for the way the creature turned out. This once more, proves his irresponsibility, and his view to the creation as a project. His attitude towards the creature is why he was irresponsible. He wasn’t serious enough, or perhaps he wasn’t ready to face negative consequences, seeing as he was a perfectionist.
The background Frankenstein created in terms of nurture is what caused his creature to murder. Victor admitted to creating the monster, but he denied that he drove the monster to commit murder. He wouldn’t admit to anyone; not himself, not his family, that he was the one who allowed the murders to take place. He allowed Clerval, his wife Elizabeth, his brother William and Justine’s death to take place because he didn’t take the blame for his actions. If he had admitted to his actions earlier, less deaths would have been caused, if he had been responsible, and given the creature what it needed, he would not be guilty of four murders.
In the end, Frankenstein was at loss of everything close to him, he blamed the monster, but it was his fault. He had a faint idea that it was his fault, although no one could possibly be able to admit to murdering the people close to you. The only way he could be innocent, is for not literally taking a knife and stabbing his relatives. However the pain he got from his creature was his own fault. Innocence lies in having no sense of guilt for any action of yours, this, Victor did clearly not have. The creature couldn’t stop himself from destroying Victor, because Victor couldn’t stop himself from creating the creature. The creature was an innocent; it only reacted to the actions of society. Victor was guilty in every way.
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