Throughout Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein pursues, with a passion lacking in other aspects of his life, his individual quest for knowledge and glory. He accepts the friendships and affections given him without reciprocating. The "creature," on the other hand, seems willing to return affections, bringing wood and clearing snow for the DeLaceys and desiring the love of others, but is unable to form human attachments. Neither the creature nor Victor fully understands the complex relationships between people and the expectations and responsibilities that accompany any relationship. The two "monsters" in this book, Victor Frankenstein and his creation, are the only characters without strong family ties; the creature because Frankenstein runs from him, and Victor because he runs from his family.
In Elizabeth’s letter to Victor in Volume 3, Chapter 5, she makes it clear that she really feels a genuine love for Victor, but feels that he does not return that love. She confesses to Victor that: "I love you and that in my airy dreams of futurity you have been my constant friend and companion" (130). She is the only character in the novel who actually states that she loves another person. For all of the other characters there is only affection and friendship. In this letter, Elizabeth becomes the only person to transcend the bounds of familial affection. The theme of familial affection is an important one throughout Frankenstein, for apart from the master/slave dynamic, it is the relationship that most of the characters are involved in. This affection rarely transcends the boundary into love, however, that passion is reserved for science and the pursuit of knowledge. The only times Victor Frankenstein speaks...
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...hat he harbors no resentment against him who condemned him to a life of misery. This a far cry from Victor’s dying plea for Walton to carry out the death of the creature.
The fact that Frankenstein’s creation turns on him and murders innocent people is never overlooked; it has been the subject of virtually every popularization of the novel. What is not often acknowledged is the fact that Frankenstein himself embodies some of the worst traits of humankind. He is self-centered, with little real love for those who care about him; he is prejudiced, inflexible and cannot forgive, even in death. While some of these traits could be forgivable, to own and flaunt them all should be enough to remind a careful reader that there are two "monsters" in Frankenstein.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818. Ed. Paul J. Hunter. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996.
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