Frankenstein was a man whose ambition led to a disaster; and his actions led to evil.
These are outcomes for which he is solely responsible. 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 Encarta dictionary as “a creator of something that causes ruin or dest ruction, or brings about a personal downfall, this shows that his name was quite well suited.
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A common quotation is that “One is innocent until proved guilty”, If this quotation is applied to Victor Frankenstein, he would be innocent, however my argument is that he was not innocent, it was his fault his family suffered, he brought on his own destruction and was responsible 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”, this shows that Victor had the knowledge that he was the reason William was dead. He said “my first thought, showing the clearness of his knowledge and that this thought had been lingering in his mind, he knew what he was doing. 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. Which is why he paused half way through his thought and realised he was exactly who the murderer was, even though he blamed the creature.
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 this creature to revere him highly by as he was supposedly “beautiful” and “perfect” 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, and he didn’t think of how the society would react to his actions. However, having said that, he didn’t admit his doings to his family, perhaps he knew they wouldn’t accept it, or the deaths in the family could have a higher weightage in terms of being more important than letting his parents know the truth. If they did know the truth, they wouldn’t be happy with him creating the creature.
The quote does show 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.
“I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.” Is what the creature says after being shunned, on the basis of aesthetics. This shows his faults, and how he was wrong to shun the creature. He may 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.
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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 an innocent, as shown in the quote I previously mentioned, with the creatures emotions towards being shunned. 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, were completely his responsibility. 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 incapable of acting the right way. 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 them. 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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