Frankenstein and Monster Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:24:05
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Category: Literature

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In the society we live in, it is apparent that we as humans have a sense of power over all other living species. We have the ability to house-train a cat, teach a dog to guide the blind, or kill a rabid animal if we feel threatened. It is our ability to think and act upon our thoughts after deliberation that allows to us to rein over the animal world. In Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Shelley examines how being human correlates directly with division of power in society by delineating the physical and emotional interactions between both Frankenstein and the monster throughout the novel. At the start of the book, Shelley depicts Doctor Victor Frankenstein as a human figure who is able to control his creations future.

However, as time passes, Frankenstein becomes increasingly inhumane and his sanity is threatened along with his ability to dominate the monsters life. As Frankenstein is losing his sense of humanity and control, the monster is gaining both. Though he starts off a powerless, unrefined brute, as the novel progresses the creature adopts a few human tendencies and gradually gains the ability to control his own creators future with his actions. Thus throughout the novel it becomes clear, when each character is in their most human state, they hold the most power over the other. During the two characters initial encounter with each other, Shelley depicts Frankenstein as having complete power over the monsters future.

The night Frankenstein [beholds] the accomplishment of [his] toils (43), he describes the moments leading up to the monsters birth: ¦ I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet (43). This single line demonstrates the ultimate power Frankenstein has over his creation at that point in time. He alone has the ability to instill life into the inanimate creature lying before him. In addition, Frankensteins elevated cognitive capability, which he has because he is human, allows him to create the monster in the first place. His ability to read, understand, process, and apply knowledge he has learned in the past, as well his capacity to experience emotions such as desire and attachment puts him at a great advantage over the monster who, initially, could not learn to distinguish between the operations of [his] various senses (90).

Because Frankenstein is human and has the power of knowledge, he is able to create the monster as well as decide whether it lives or not. Though he has the ability to bring his creature to life, Frankensteins unchallenged dominance over his creation is immediately threatened once the monster awakens. As soon as the creature opens his eyes, Frankenstein describes his feelings about the atrocious being. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body(43), he recounts. This instant reaction of abhorrence to the newly living thing demonstrates that the monster does have influence on Frankensteins emotions and, thus, a minor form of control over the doctors being.

Though the monster begins to leave an imprint on Frankenstein, it is still evident that Frankenstein has a decisive role on how the monster grows and functions in the world. As the creator, Frankenstein is theoretically obliged to owe [the monster] all the portion of happiness that [is] in [his] power to bestow (135), but he does not fulfill that obligation. Instead, he begins his relationship with the brute with no affection. After dismissing the creature with absolute horror, Frankenstein flees his home trying to avoid the wretch whom [he] fear[s] every turning of the street would present (45). When he eventually returns home, his apartment [is] empty and [his] bedroom [is] also freed from its hideous guest (45).

The actions Frankenstein takes by trying to stay away from his creation demonstrate the hate and lack of humanity he has for the creature. This directly influences the way the monster begins his life in the real world. Had Frankenstein taken care of his child, the monster may have become acclimatized with society instead of living as a hideous monster (131) or a filthy mass that moved and talked (136). After the monster is abandoned by his creator, he is left to fend for himself. As he adopts human tendencies such as learning to discern his emotions and developing the ability to speak the human language, French, he learns to live life on his own. Not only do the monsters new-found emotions and ability to communicate make him capable of living alone, but the progression of his rational thinking process also demonstrates his humanness and competence.

Before introducing himself to De Laceys family, he first thinks of the consequences of an illiterate, dumb monster. Although I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become a master of their language (101), the monster recounts. This notion of a rational thinking process is unique to humans and necessary to a happy survival. The monsters new found capabilities prove he can live without his creator and thus, while the monster gains control over his own life, Frankenstein further loses his ability to control the creature, as he is no longer needed for the monster to live. When the monster, fueled by his recently acquired ability to seek revenge, strangles William, Frankensteins sanity and humanity begins to crumble and his power over the monster disappears.

Frankensteins controlled nature deteriorates when he has a gut feeling it is the monster who killed William rather than Justine, as nothing in a human shape could have destroyed that fair child (63). He cannot tell anyone the truth because no one else knows of Frankensteins experiment and he is afraid they will think him a mad man. This inability to share his thoughts and feelings causes him to go into a guilty frenzy because he blames the deaths on himself: Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as, torn by remorse, horror and despair, I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts (119). This line captures the vulnerability Frankenstein experiences as well as the immense control the monster is gaining over Frankensteins emotions.

By killing a single person, Shelley shows that the monster is able to distort both Frankensteins mental well-being and cause him to go into a mild, inhumane frenzy. As the story progresses, Shelley depicts the gradual deterioration of Frankensteins health and loss of power over his creation. The doctor loses complete influence over his monster after he refuses to make a female version of the brute.

Before this point, Frankenstein still kept a sliver of control over the creatures future because if he created the female, the monster would go to the vast wilds of South America and neither Frankenstein nor any other human being shall see [them] again (135). Once Frankenstein destroys his plans for the partner, however, the monster launches into a fit of rage: Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey! (157).

It is here that the monsters fury fueled words illustrate the true nature of the relationship between the creature and his creator; that though Frankenstein initially had the ability to create the monster, the monster grew to be aware of his own superiority. He realized that his physical stature, along with his acquired human-like mental strength, allowed him to control both his own and Frankensteins ability to be happy and healthy. Once the monster takes away all of Frankensteins happiness by murdering the doctors loved ones, Frankenstein loses complete control over himself, becomes entirely inhumane, vowing to murder the monster. The doctor looses all sense of rational thinking and revenge is the only desire that keeps Frankenstein alive throughout the last pages of the novel. He dared not die and leave his adversary in being (192).

This notion of solely living for another being establishes the fact that the monster does in fact have ultimate domination over all of his creators feelings and actions. As the monster, throughout the duration of the novel, has gained the ability to understand, process, and apply knowledge, he realizes he is the only aspect of his creators life that Frankenstein is living for. Thus, the monster has the option to keep Frankenstein alive by leaving a path of bread crumbs for his creator or to let him die with no trace of his creation. Hence, the novel comes full circle. At the start of the book, Frankenstein has the ultimate decision to give life to his creature or to leave him as a jumble of body parts.

However by the end, the characters reverse the dominance in the relationship, and it becomes clear that the creature has the ability to keep his creator alive or leave him for death. By detailing the deterioration of Frankensteins humanity, while showing the monsters acquisition of human characteristics, Shelley is able to demonstrate how being human allows for one to have power over another. Being able to rationally process and comprehend information, as well as reason with certain ideas, are unique qualities we as humans possess that put us at an advantage over other species and ultimately put the monster dominance over Frankenstein.

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