Accountability of Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
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- Length: 1514 words (4.3 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Although humans have the tendency to set idealistic goals to better future generations, often the results can prove disastrous, even deadly. The tale of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, focuses on the outcome of one man's idealistic motives and desires of dabbling with nature, which result in the creation of horrific creature. Victor Frankenstein was not doomed to failure from his initial desire to overstep the natural bounds of human knowledge. Rather, it was his poor parenting of his progeny that lead to his creation's thirst for the vindication of his unjust life. In his idealism, Victor is blinded, and so the creation accuses him for delivering him into a world where he could not ever be entirely received by the people who inhabit it. Not only failing to foresee his faulty idealism, nearing the end of the tale, he embarks upon a final journey, consciously choosing to pursue his creation in vengeance, while admitting he himself that it may result in his own doom. The creation of an unloved being and the quest for the elixir of life holds Victor Frankenstein more accountable for his own death than the creation himself.
Delivered into the world, full grown and without a guardian to teach him the ways of the human world, the creation discovers that he is alone, but not without resource. He attempts to communicate to his creator, however, he is incapable of speech. As Frankenstein recounts the situation, he says,
I beheld the wretch---the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaw opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs (Shelley, p. 43).
As Frankenstein explains, he declares that he deliberately neglects to communicate with his creation, based on its shockingly hideous appearance. Had Frankenstein taken the time to communicate and care for his creation, with all the knowledge that he possesses of the responsibility of a good parent, the creation would have never developed the sense of vindication and reprisal that lead him to murdering Victor's loved one's. The creation would henceforth account Frankenstein for all his sufferings succeeding his birth.
Frankenstein's first of numerous mistaken decisions ill-fating his destiny relies greatly upon a lack of responsibility for the creation he so passionately brings to life in the early chapters of his tale. From his very first words, Victor claims to have been born to two indefatigably affectionate parents in an environment of abundant knowledge. As he speaks of his parents, Frankenstein attempts to portray his fortunate upbringing,
Much as they were attached to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me. My mother's tender caresses and my father's smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me are my first recollections. I was their plaything and their idol, and something better---their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me (Shelley, p. 19).
By these recollections, Frankenstein illustrates his parents as being the most ideal caregivers imaginable to any child, being granted the all the vital tools of a responsible guardian as a result, which he neglects to utilize upon animating his creation. Frankenstein abandons his hideous child, feelings of vindication arise, and the creation kills members of his family for all the mental anguish that has been set upon him.
In his idealism, Frankenstein is blinded and fails or is unable to foresee the dangerous outcome of his creation, giving life to a hideous being that could never be accepted in such a superficial world. As Frankenstein recounts the procedures of making his being, he admits himself that his idealism blinded his ability to foresee the drastic effects that might result in giving life to an unloved creature.
No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onward like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing these reflections, I thought that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption (Shelley, p. 38-39).
Frankenstein's intent was to create a being unlike any other, superior to all human life and so he picked the most perfect body parts and beauteous features, all to be pieced together in great anticipation. However, the results are horrific and irreversible. Accusing Frankenstein of bringing him into a world where he could never be accepted, the creation realizes his creator's faulty idealism. However, Frankenstein is unable to detect his idealistic blindness. In a conversation with Frankenstein, the creation explains, attempting to make him conceive the amount of mental anguish that has been brought upon him by giving him life,
...instead of threatening, I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me? You would not call it murder if you could precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts and destroy my frame, the work of you own hands (Shelley, p.130).
In the creation's loathsome words, he merely justifies that had Frankenstein not have been passionately immersed in the creation of a superior being, gigantic and repulsive as a result, all his sufferings would cease to exist.
Longing for the attention that Frankenstein neglects to provide him with at his birth, the creation attempts to gain it by stalking and killing his loved ones. The creation does finally attain this attention as Frankenstein feels that he no longer has any reason to live but to seek revenge upon the being that has ultimately destroyed him. Upon hearing Frankenstein's declarations of reprisal, the creation is delighted in finally receiving the attention that he neglected to provide to him at his birth. The creation challenges him in pursuing him and. replies, "I am satisfied miserable wretch! You have determined to live, and I am satisfied," (Shelley, 186). Frankenstein initiates the conflict that would lead directly to his doom. Consciously choosing to pursue his creation, Frankenstein implores himself to seek reprisal upon him. Frankenstein vows that he will undertake the great task that is the pursuit of his creation. Although he may be enraged with vengeance and unrestrained anger, Frankenstein does admit that this pursuit may indeed result in his own death. As he declares this vengeance, he says,
By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by thee, O Night, and the spirits that preside over thee, to pursue the demon who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict. For this purpose I will preserve my life; to execute this dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread the green herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from my eyes forever (Shelley, p. 186).
Ultimately, in the end, this leads to Frankenstein's demise even though he realizes that it might, for the death of either his creation or himself will obliterate and relieve all the sufferings that he has been forced to endure.
Frankenstien is the tale of a man doomed to failure and death for his desire to play with nature. By creating a destructive being, in human form, that he cannot control, Victor Frankenstein brings about his own ruin. Frankenstein neglects to take responsibility for his creation, abandoning him, resulting in the murder of his most loved ones as the creation's revenge. In his idealism, Frankenstein is blinded and is unable to foresee the drastic effects of giving life to a being that could never be entirely accepted by human society, that further the creation's vindictiveness. Lastly, consciously choosing to pursue his creation in vengeance, Frankenstein's sufferings are finally obliterated, for he was well aware that it may lead to his ultimate doom. The creation of an unloved being and the search for a death cure hold Victor Frankenstien more responsible for his own demise than the creation himself.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bloom, Harold. Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. New York: Chelsea, 1987.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Edited with an Introduction and notes by Maurice Hindle. Penguin books, 1992