Monster or Tragic Hero

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Literature is full of heroes and villains. Sometimes the main character of a play or story will exhibit traits of both. The tragic hero in literature is defined as “a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy” (tragic hero). William McCollom confirms this definition and adds that a tragic hero is a superhuman who suffers greatly because of his flaw (52). Also, his bad behavior is believable due to the fact that he is not all good or all evil. Lastly, the hero learns from his mistakes (McCollom 53). Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is an example of these classic literary works. Certainly her gothic demon in “Frankenstein” is a monster by anyone’s definition: eight feet tall, black lips, yellow skin, and a murderer of innocent people. However, in considering the opposing viewpoint, Shelley develops Frankenstein’s creature to exhibit characteristics that align him with a tragic hero. First, the reader will discover in the novel, that the creature only wants to be of benefit to society and accepted by his creator, Victor Frankenstein. The demon explains in the story that he was only seeking to reach out and make a connection with Victor at his lab in Ingolstadt. But, he leaves the house rejected and lives in the forest. Confusion and despair are his only companions while he is learning to understand his body and its signals during these early days. Later, the creature persuades Victor to hear his story by reminding him that while he was vulnerable and ill equipped to deal with life, Frankenstein abandoned him. The demon then reveals all of his good deeds and how much he craves acceptance from society. He says, “believe me, Franke... ... middle of paper ... ... (Foster). In conclusion, Mary Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein” did indeed give some characteristics to her monster that make him a tragic hero. At the beginning of the story, he only wants to be accepted and loved by mankind. He contributes to society and tries to make life better for individuals. The creature suffers anguish and hardship during his life. However, these good deeds and his despair, in the end, do not outweigh his poor decision to commit murder. Although he blames Victor and mankind for leaving him no options, at the end the creature is lamenting his decisions, evil deeds and Victor’s death. He has learned from his misdeeds. The demon leaves Walton’s ship vowing that he will commit suicide because he no longer wants to live in torture. This last declaration of the creature is exactly what would be expected of a classic tragic hero.
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