The Reasons for Victor Frankenstein's Emotional Turmoil

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Victor Frankenstein’s emotional turmoil is clearly evident in chapters 9 and 10. Explore the basis for this turmoil and Mary Shelley’s portrayal of Victor’s state of mind.

In this Essay I shall explore the reasons for Victor Frankenstein’s emotional turmoil in chapters 9 and 10 and look at how some events in Mary Shelley’s life mirrors some events in the book. I will also look at a few of the themes running through Frankenstein. Such as religion, parenting, hate, revenge, guilt and compassion.

At the time that Frankenstein was published most people still believed the genesis story of how humans were created and that we were made in the image of God, Frankenstein was highly controversial because someone was taking pieces of death and bringing it to life. Shelley was playing with the nature versus nurture theory when she showed her creature to be the victim, because the creature was not born naturally people would’ve believed that this made him evil by default. By showing the creature’s point of view she shows how the world and the cruelty of mankind changes into what he is, not that he was born to evil. When Victor created the creature he took on the role of God. The creature picks up on this theme, he says “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.” This idea of the creature being Frankenstein’s Adam is taken from Milton’s Paradise Lost, an epic poem that was one of Mary Shelley’s favourites.

In the creation scene, Frankenstein constantly dehumanises his creation by calling him “the creature”, “it” and “this catastrophe”. The creature was never named throughout the book; this mirrors the first child of Mary Shelley who died shortly after its birth and was never named. Because Victor created the creature he should have been a parent to it but instead he rejects his creation by running away as the creature comes to life and he runs away again when the creature tries to establish contact by reaching out to him. He has rejected his child.
After the murder of his little brother William, Victor knows that the creature is responsible, and he realises that the monster is his making, so he sets out to kill it. He is replacing the guilt, of being a failure as a parent and causing his brother’s death, by creating his murderer, with anger against himself. He is also feeling self pity, his father has to rem...

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...els guilt for failing as a parent, his lack of kindness toward the creature has resulted in turning it into a monster and he recognises this.
By playing God and creating life in the first place caused Victor Frankenstein’s character to change, he ignored his fiancé and was able to use human parts in a way, which most normal people couldn’t bear to. Later the deaths of William and Justine, which were a direct result of Victor’s actions, caused further guilt despair sorrow and self-loathing. He feels isolated, as he knows the whole tragedy is of his making. Mary Shelley never managed to fit into her natural place in society and she didn’t succeed in being a famous radical like her parents were. Like the monster she had no feeling of belonging and her upbringing was sad due to her mothers’ death as a result of Mary Shelley’s birth, her father blamed her for this. She had an unhappy childhood under her stepmother and was not shown any kindness or love, just like the creature.
Victor’s failure to use his medical skills to help mankind is a reflection of Mary Shelley’s unfulfilled ambition to become a mother at the time she wrote the book.


Shelley, M (1818), Frankenstein

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