Dr Siv Jansson argues that ‘the balance of sympathy at the novel’s conclusion lies firmly in favour of the Creature. ‘ How far do you agree? In your answer you must refer to the ways in which “Frankenstein” is part of the Gothic tradition and how this affects the ‘balance of sympathy’. This essay will explore where the balance of sympathy lies at the end of the gothic literary novel “Frankenstein” written by Mary Shelley. This essay will also refer to Dr Siv Jansson’s essay, and other quotations, from both the text, and philosophers of the day. The novel “Frankenstein” has become a blueprint for any Gothic author.
The novel itself contains many features of the Gothic, and these features most definitely sway the balance of sympathy throughout the novel. The dark, poetic imagery, and the multiple narrative structure also are factors in this. As this essay progresses, it will point out these factors, and determine their effect. The Creature shows tremendous amounts of compassion, sensitivity, articulacy and kindness. The reader can see these traits in Chapter 11 when the Creature begins his narrative. “Soon a gentle light stole over the heavens, and gave me a sensation of pleasure. I stared up, and beheld a radiant form rise from among the trees.
I gazed with a kind of wonder. It moved slowly, but enlightened my path.. ” “.. innumerable sounds rung in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me: the only object I could distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed my eyes on it with pleasure. ” From this extract the reader can see that the Creature has a sensitive, nai?? ve and childlike wonder at the world. The Creature creates beautiful visual imagery with descriptive language, as well as creating clear and romanticised images. At this point the reader feels sympathy, empathy and understanding towards the Creature.
It is easier to form a bond with an articulate narrator than an inarticulate, or ignorant one. The Creature is obviously not as similar to a “daemon”, “wretch”, or “monster” as Victor Frankenstein makes him out to be. Although, as the multiple narrative structure demonstrates, the reader’s view changes as we get different perspectives from different narrators. This is an unusual way of getting across the different characters’ views, but it is used to great effect, as the reader empathises with whoever is the narrator at the particular moment in time.
The Creature is created due to Frankenstein’s morbid thirst for knowledge. Physically, the Creature consists of dead body parts stitched together to become a man-made human, not the work of nature, hence the use of the word “monster”, in this case meaning “unnatural”. The making of his Creature breaks down the normally uncontrollable boundary between the living and the dead. Victor Frankenstein oversteps this boundary; the Creature is the consequence of Victor’s own twisted ambitions and unnerving arrogance.
The whole topic of life and death is a great feature of the Gothic. Towards the end of the novel, we see Frankenstein does not change his ways. “I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find it blameable. ” He puts the last nail in his metaphorical coffin, so to speak, by saying “I have myself been blasted in my hopes, yet another may succeed. ” By saying this, he is not repenting for his past actions. He is also saying he would wish luck for another to succeed. I think this is evidence of the novel being more in favour of the Creature.