Victor Frankenstein: The Real Monster of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Length: 1574 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)
Victor Frankenstein: The Real Monster
Science is a broad field that covers many aspects of everyday life and existence. Some areas of science include the study of the universe, the environment, dinosaurs, animals, and insects. Another popular science is the study of people and how they function. In Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dr. Victor Frankenstein is an inspiring scientist who studies the dead. He wants to be the first person to give life to a dead human being. He spends all of his time concentrating on this goal, and gives up his family and friends. When he finally accomplishes this, everything falls apart. So, Victor Frankenstein is to blame for the tragedy, not the monster he has created, because he is the mastermind behind the whole operation, and he is supposed to have everything under control, working properly as a good scientist should do.
Although some critics say that the monster Victor has created is to blame for the destruction and violence that follow the experiment, it is Victor who is the responsible party. First, Victor, being the scientist, should have known how to do research on the subject a lot more than he had done. He obviously has not thought of the consequences that may result from it such as the monster going crazy, how the monster reacts to people and things, and especially the time it will take him to turn the monster into the perfect normal human being. This is obviously something that would take a really long time and a lot of patience which Victor lacks. All Victor really wants is to be the first to bring life to a dead person and therefore be famous. The greed got to his head and that is all he could think about, while isolating himself from his friends and family. In the play of Frankenstein, when Victor comes home and sets up his lab in the house, he is very paranoid about people coming in there and finding out what he is doing. At the end of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor says:
I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I deprived myself of rest and health.
I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. (156)
Victor is saying that he has isolated himself for two years and in the end, he is not at all happy because of the bad outcome. He also adds, "Winter, spring and summer passed...so deeply was I engrossed in my occupation" (156). By spending most of his time inside on his experiment, never going out, but mostly worrying about his success, he has got himself crazier. This has made him lose sight of his surroundings and judgment and lose control over his experiment. Therefore he is to blame for the havoc caused by the monster he has created.
Moreover, the monster should not be held responsible for killing Victor's family members and friends as shown in the book and movie, because it is Victor who has brought a dead creature back to life. He expects the monster to know everything when he wakes up cool, calm, and collected. But when the monster is awakened, he does not know anything. He sees a world different from what he is used to, which makes him get nervous and scared, so he acts all crazy, but it is not his fault. The monster has not removed himself from his environment; Victor has removed him from dead. With
the dawning of life, the monster has to learn about his new environment. In the play of Frankenstein, the monster starts to gradually to get used to things. The problems he encounters are with Victor's assistant, Peter Krempe, Victor's friend, Henry, and other family members, including Elizabeth, and these are reactions to how these people treat him. These reactions are clearly shown in the movie of Young Frankenstein, where Victor tries to teach the monster how to live like a real human. Victor does this because the monster has an abnormal brain and does not know anything. Then, he tries to show off the monster to an audience in a dance routine of sorts. But then people start to scream, panic and throw things at the monster, so he reacts by attacking them to defend himself. In this case, it is clear that Victor tries to push the monster too hard because he wants to be famous. In each of the movies, the comedy and the play, the monster has an abnormal brain and body parts from different people. It is obvious that the monster is not in his right mind, because, it is not even his mind. It is a mind that is controlled by a mad scientist named Dr.Victor Frankenstein. That is why he should be blamed for the tragedy.
Another fact that can be observed from the movies is Victor's initial confusion on how best to carry out the project. Since there are different versions, or sources of the story, it is interesting to see how each producer portrays Victor's role in the disaster. In Frankenstein, the play, it is not Victor who has the initial initiative, it is his lab partner. The two are perfect for each other, Victor has the knowledge of science; Krempe has the desire. Once the experiment progresses, however, it is clear that Victor takes control of everything, sometimes saying "Things we do in the name of science" to justify their acts of violating the dead. At the same time, his lab assistant is slowly getting pushed out of the picture. This is because of Victor's greed. Near the end of the play, it is evident that his lab assistant knows that the experiment is threatening human lives, and that Victor is blinded by his quest. The lab assistant tries to end it by killing the monster, but loses the battle; the monster instead kills him, William and Henry. These deaths could have been prevented if Victor had supported Krempe's efforts to kill the monster before it kills anybody. Definitely, Victor is to blame.
What is very interesting is how all the stories have different endings which relate to who is to blame. The different endings clearly show that the director or writer of each piece of work had a different view on Mary Shelley's original version. In Mary Shelley's version of Frankenstein, Victor loses the monster; the monster wanders off or runs away, and he has to go on a worldwide search for his creation. This shows that Victor is not responsible enough to watch over something he really cares about. In the play Frankenstein, Victor gets diverted and does not pay close attention to the monster. The monster encounters William and Henry and kills them. When Victor finally realizes that he has made a mistake by giving life to a dead human, he searches for the monster, equipped with a gun. In the forest, Victor sees the monster, and right before he shoots him, says, "I shouldn't have created you in the first place," thinking that he has killed him. The monster comes back after Victor gets married and begs Victor to help him, saying, "You made! You hurt me! Why?" With the guilt of creating the monster and the tragedy clear in his mind, he kills the monster, along with himself. In the movie Young Frankenstein, Victor also tries to "normalize" the creation, but fails to do so. The cause of this failure is that an abnormal brain is put into the monster. Instead of sending Igor to get a brain, he should have gone himself, to minimize the field of error or decrease the possibilities of something going wrong. Even though Victor yells at Igor for getting the wrong brain, it is ultimately his fault for sending Igor.
Finally, Dr. Victor Frankenstein is believed to be the real monster. He should be blamed for the events leading up to and eventually the death of the monster. No blame should be put on the monster because he is an experiment gone wrong. Victor is the master-scientist behind the whole operation and he is supposed to have his creation under control all the time. In fact, it isVictor's over-ambition to be famous that gets to his head, blinding him of all the possible consequences of his action. Dr. Victor Frankenstein is, therefore, the architect of this magnificent plan, but has turned it all around to something of madness and destruction. The monster is just Frankenstein's guinea pig and has no choice in the matter of the experiment, so he should not be blamed, only Victor Frankenstein should take the blame.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. A play by Nick DiMartino, Direct. Moses Goldberg. Narr. Professor McNamar. Global Stage Production. WLIW21 Presentation. Class Movie. HSS 101-005. Fall Semester, September 7, 2001.
Shelley, Mary. "From Frankenstein." The Example of Science. Ed. Robert E. Lynch and
Thomas B. Swanzey. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2000. (152-156)
Young Frankenstein. Dir. Mel Brooks. Actor Gene Wilder. VHS. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 1974. Class Movie. HSS 101-005. Fall Semester, September 14, 2001.