Importance of Language and Appearance in Frankenstein
The individual identified as the monster in Frankenstein demonstrates, through his own problems with understanding and being understood by the world, the importance and power of language on the one hand and of outward appearance on the other. As this essay will show, the novel shows these two factors to have very different functions indeed.
First, let us look at the function of appearance as the monster perceives it. From the first time he views himself in a pool of water, he knows that he has the features which make up a monster. Then he states: "Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity" (p. 109). After this he experiences time and again how people, including the one who created him, flee in terror from his deformed shape, and finally, when all hope of a reversal of that situation has disappeared, he starts to use this deliberately for purposes of revenge.
The incident where he loses his last hope of ever being seen as anything but a monstrosity is when William Frankenstein, the younger brother of his creator and also a young and hopefully unprejudiced child, proves to see him the way any adult would, with disgust and horror. After completing the act of killing the child, he resolves to "carry despair to [Victor Frankenstein], and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him" (p. 137). According to the monster, the function of appearance is to make society react to you. Whether the reaction is appropriate or not is beside the point; all that matters is the way you look.
Then we have language and communication. The first time he encounters spoken words, the monster reports that "this was indee...
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...and then in the scene with the blind man), but sooner or later you have to reveal your true shape to people you want respect from, and then a malformed outer shell will drive away the impressions left on them by your mind, however worthy and elevated that mind is. In the end, the only one who cares about who you really are is yourself, and everyone else sees just your surface. The exception from this is love, because love is the ability to see through the masks and understand who is behind them. The monster, understanding this, entreats his creator to give him an equal to love and be loved by, but his pleas are denied. He then sets out to destroy his creator and then himself, preferring death to a meaningless existence. In short: in order to stay sane and loved, nurture your mind, but in order to stay socially accepted and popular, nurture your body.
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