The Creator’s Faults in the Creation Often the actions of children are reflective of the attitudes of thosewho raised them. In the novel Frankenstein : Or the Modern Prometheus byMary Shelly, Dr. Victor Frankenstein is the sole being that can takeresponsibility for the creature that he has created, as he is the only onethat had any part in bringing it into being. While the actions of thecreation are the ones that are the illegal and deadly their roots aretraced back to the flaws of Frankenstein as a creator. Many of Frankenstein’s faults are evident in the appearance of hiscreation. It is described as having yellow skin, dark black hair, eyessunk into their sockets, and black lips (Shelly 56). Frankenstein, havingchosen the parts for his creature, is the only one possible to blame forits appearance. Martin Tropp states that the monster is “designed to bebeautiful and loving, it is loathsome and unloved” (64). Clearly it isFrankenstein’s lack of foresight in the creation process to allow for acreature that Frankenstein “had selected his features as beautiful,” (56)to become something which the very sight of causes its creator to say”breathless horror and disgust filled my heart”(56). He overlooks theseemingly obvious fact that ugliness is the natural result when somethingis made from parts of different corpses and put together. Were hethinking more clearly he would have noticed monster’s hideousness. Another physical aspect of the monster which shows a fault inFrankenstein is its immense size. The reason that Frankenstein gives forcreating so large a creature is his own haste. He states that ,”As theminuteness of the parts formed a great hinderance to my speed, I resolved,contrary to my first intention, to make a being gigantic in stature …”(52). Had Frankenstein not had been so rushed to complete his project hewould not have had to deal with such a physically intimidating creature. Tropp however states that ambition may have had a role in the size of thecreation. He says that the creation is “born of Frankenstein’smegalomania” (81). This may indeed be true as the inventor states “A newspecies would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellentnatures would owe their being to me” (52). Frankenstein seems obsessedwith being the father of this new race, so he makes the creature large inorder to assure its dominance. The more important defect within Frankenstein is not so much shown inthe appearance that he gave his creation, but the manner in which heresponds to it. The first thing that Frankenstein notices upon theactivation of his creation is one of being appalled (56). Frankensteinsees the creature’s physical appearance only, taking no time to attempt toacknowledge its mental nature. He cannot accept it simply because it lookstoo far removed from his view of beautiful (Oates 77). Because of this hedrives the creature away, abandoning it. The creature is “in one sense aninfant-a comically monstrous eight foot baby- whose progenitor rejects himimmediately after creating him…” (Oates 70). It is due to thisabandonment that the monster develops the murderous tendencies displayedlater in the novel. Even when the creature is shown to be naturally good,its physical form never allows it acceptance. Whenever the creationattempts to be rational with Frankenstein it is rejected, with in almostall cases Frankenstein sighting its appearance as one of the reasons. “Frankenstein’s response to the `thing’ he has created is solely inaesthetic terms…” (Oates 75). Throughout the novel Frankenstein continually insists that “Thetortures of Hell are too mild a vengeance for all [the creature's] crimes”(95). Frankenstein is incorrect, however in assuming that the creature isinherently evil. Mary Lowe-Evans states that ,”Nothing in Frankenstein ismore unexpected than the Creature’s sensitivity” (52). His benevolent
nature described in his story is meant to show that he is not the beastthat Frankenstein has made him out to be (Lowe-Evans 52). The creature isintrigued by the lives of the people that he finds living in a small cabin,the De Laceys. The creature loves everything about these people andattempts to aid them by gathering for them much needed firewood. Thisaction is described by Tropp as, “a last attempt to enter its [Paradise’s}gates” (75). He also sympathizes with the plights of other unfortunatepeople that he hears of such as the Native Americans (Lowe-Evans 53). Itis only upon being again rejected because of his appearance that thecreature becomes the monster that Frankenstein sees him as. Just as the creature’s love of the De Laceys show that he is not anevil being and that Frankenstein has caused him to become this way, so doesthe creature’s constant longing for companionship. The creature says inregard to originally capturing Frankenstein’s brother William, “If I could,therefore seize him … I should not be so desolate in this peopled earth.”(136). He only murders him upon realizing that he is a relative ofFrankenstein. The creature’s ultimate plea for companionship comes when herequests that Frankenstein creates another monster to be his mate, and thatthe two monsters would live in isolation. Tropp acknowledges that this istruly meant to do no harm to the race of man, and simply to comfort thecreature. He also states, however, that it is in the creation’s nature tolook for acceptance by humans, and will if given the chance, return tohuman civilization (78). The most major crime committed by the creature in the eyes ofFrankenstein is the murder of his wife Elizabeth. The roots of the killingcan be traced back not only to the malice displayed by the creature towardFrankenstein, but also to Frankenstein’s own self-centered attitude. Thecreature pronounces his threat on Elizabeth’s life, after Frankenstein hasdone what Oates calls “The cruelest act of all” (78), destroying thepartially finished monster that was to be the mate of his first creation. She also states that Frankenstein, “in `mangling’ the flesh of his demon’sbride, he is murdering the pious and rather too perfect Elizabeth…” (78). Frankenstein wishes for his own happiness through companionship inmarriage, but denies the same right to his creation. Frankenstein can alsobe viewed as being responsible for the death of Elizabeth by assuming thatwhen the creature states “I shall be with you on your wedding night” (161)he is going to be killed rather than Elizabeth, even when all of thecreature’s prior killings point to the fact that he would attempt to makeFrankenstein’s life miserable rather than actually kill him (Lowe-Evans61). In fact if the creature actually wanted Frankenstein to die, it hadthe perfect opportunity to kill him the second Frankenstein destroyed hiswould be wife. Lowe-Evans points out that this can be attributed toFrankenstein’s own selfish attitude. She says he “might feel that even theattention implied in the Creature’s warning rightfully belongs to him”(62). This fits the spoiled childhood life of Frankenstein, detailed inthe works early chapters (Lowe-Evans 62). It is stated by Oates that ,”The monsters that we create … `are’ourselves as we cannot hope to see ourselves…” (75). This statement isperfectly applicable to Frankenstein. The qualities that he would mostlike to deny are shown through the results that they have had on the beingwhich he has brought into existence. The results of his flaws take on aphysical aspect, destroying those around him, until he finally dies seekingrevenge on something that he himself has brought about.
Lowe-Evans, Mary. Frankenstein: Mary Shelly’s Wedding Guest. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Frankenstein: Creation as Catastrophe.” Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: ChelseaHouse Publishers, 1987. Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus. New York: Penguin Books, 1978. Tropp, Martin. Mary Shelly’s Monster. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.