Analysis of Viewpoints: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is an enduring, time-tested work of fiction that poses many questions that are fundamental to the common human experience. At the end of the novel, Frankenstein’s creation becomes cognizant of his place in the world, and claims that he will commit suicide. Some claim that the creation’s suicide is inevitable, but others claim that it is the creation’s choice. The potential suicide also brings up another question: which is the true monster, the creation or the man who created it and did not take responsibility for it? The class examined these questions came to a variety of different conclusions, with some excellent points made on each side of the argument.
Nearly the entire class agreed that the true monster of the text was Victor. Each individual came to a different set of logical reasons as to why this is, but the general agreement was that Victor was the monster, not his creation. Some wrote about Victor’s lack of concern for his creation, while others postulated that Victor’s lack of maternal concern for his creation was enough to cause the creation extreme distress and lead to his potential eventual suicide.
Victor's cold, uncaring attitude towards his creation was a problem for many of the students. Many felt that had he expressed more of a caring, nurturing side, the creation may not have turned into the monster he turned into by the end of the novel. One student writes, “I think Shelley beats in the point, ad nauseum, that Victor is the real monster and the monster is more human than Victor Without proper guidance the monster learns by a trial and error. In the end, the monster has his redemption but Victor fails at every chance at redemption.” The discussion of redemption is an important one, and one that the other students did not address; however, the student's assertion that both the creation and Victor have chances for redemption but Victor fails repeatedly is a very shrewd interpretation of the text.
Another issue that a few of the students addressed in regards to the creation was the creation’s loneliness. These students felt that Victor was a monster because he did not create a companion for the creature, yet he created the creature and gave him all the facilities to understand his loneliness. This is, these students asserted, a cruel thing to do, and quite inhumane; for this reason, Victor should be considered more of a monster than the creation he made.
A few students mentioned that Victor is vain, because he wanted to create life but not take responsibility for it. One student writes, “I mentioned about Victor being vain and trying to play God, but what [you] mentioned and what we discussed, about him not taking care of the monster and the monster having to learn for himself, is even more reason to think Victor is the real monster.” Essentially, the class seems to agree that Victor's act of creating the creature was not inherently wrong, but his lack of care and his lack of forethought was detrimental to the creation's development. Some of the students even felt that this lack of care helped to lead to the creation's potential suicide at the end of the novel.
The question of the creature's suicide is an interesting one, and one that has caused problems for literary analysts since the novel was written. However, the class seems to be mostly of one mind about the nature of the creature's fate: most agree that the creature will commit suicide after the novel ends. The students cite reasons like the extreme loneliness that the creature feels, and most agree that Victor should bear the burden of responsibility for the monster that he created out of vanity.
One student writes, “I have to agree that the monsters suicide being inevitable does depend on the perspective. However, with the lack of support, love, and acceptance it becomes clear why he would feel to take his own life.” Although the class seems to agree that there is some degree of ambiguity surrounding the suicide of the monster, most agree that, in the end, the monster will take his own life.
The monster, the students note, quickly becomes more sympathetic to the reader than his creator does, and the reader quickly vilifies Victor rather than the monster he has created. This is because everyone understands loneliness and the pain of having their lives controlled by someone who does not have their best interests at heart; for this reason, the class certainly began to side with the creation rather than the creator, even though the creator was technically human while the creation was not. By the end of the text and the discussion, most of the class agreed that Victor's actions were inhuman, while the creation's actions were the inevitable result of being controlled by someone who had no care for his well-being.