In Your Opinion, Who Is the Most Monstrous? Frankenstein or the Creature…. “Frankenstein” the novel written by Mary Shelly was first published in 1818. Shelly was the only daughter of the philosopher William Godwin and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, the radical feminist writer. Unfortunately Shelly’s mother died almost immediately and Shelly was brought up by her father and his second wife.
Although “Frankenstein” was published in 1818, Shelly first wrote “Frankenstein” in 1816 visiting Lord Byron on the shores of Geneva with her husband. The whole idea of creating a novel was thought of by Byron. This was because the four of them (Shelly, her husband Percy, Byron and Mary Shelly’s adopted sister Jane Clairmont) had nothing really to do and Byron suggested to have a little competition – see who could write the best ghost story. He thought this would keep the group occupied, which it did and that was when “Frankenstein” was created. The idea originated from a nightmare Shelly had had and when her novel was written Percy Shelly told her to expand her story and helped her publish it in 1818.
The novel is vastly influenced by Shelly’s life, as the way Frankenstein’s mother died and the rough life Shelly had. Frankenstein is about an anatomy student who deeply seeks in the creation of life and takes science to the limits. With this, his creature is born. He soon realises his mistake and the burden he has placed on his family. “Frankenstein” is a science fiction novel but is very close and has many connections with the gothic horror genre. For example, gothic horror novels have people killing, committing crimes and doing other unlawful things, then getting punished for them. This links with “Frankenstein” as the student, named Victor Frankenstein meddled with the laws of physics and the punishment he received was unimaginable. The novel starts with the sentence “dreary night of November” this is a typical example of a horror/gothic setting. This is showing the darkness and more fear into the novel and straight away the reader can tell it is horror.
It is hard to say which is the most monstrous as both did unbelievable things. Frankenstein is a very ambitious character; he aimed very high and wanted to be renowned for his knowledge and creation in science. “One thought, one conception and one purpose”, this shows his obsession with “one” ambition and the repetition is used for the big emphasis. This quote implies he will be known all around the world for his thoughts and work. He wanted to be known especially for solving all illnesses and bringing back the dead to create a new perfect species.
Frankenstein came from a prosperous background and had a good enough upbringing. He cared very much about his family especially his adopted sister Elizabeth. “Heaven-sent,” “till death she was to be mine.” Frankenstein was very much obsessed with Elizabeth. This is shown by how he uses the word “Mine”, showing his obsession. He was deeply in love with her and she felt very much the same about him. Ever since the two had grown up, they had a strong attraction for her each.
The novel starts off with a series of letters in which a Captain Robert Walton wants to be the first person to set foot on the North Pole. “I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before imprinted by the foot of man.” This shows Walton’s hunger for being world renowned and is much of a glory seeker. Walton finds Frankenstein in his journey to the North Pole. Walton is instantly attracted to Frankenstein “I have no friend” and the two bond quickly. Frankenstein and Walton have very resembling ideas, one of which is they both share the selfishness of being known around the world for their on conceptions. However Frankenstein warns Walton that his selfishness and hunger is not worth it and is not rewarding and therefore will end up like Frankenstein.
“Do you share my madness?” Frankenstein explains this insanity is not worth it; he has experienced it and tries to persuade Walton to stop with the voyage knowing too well what the consequences are of doing such high ambitious investigations. This desire makes the reader feel a sense of foreboding or warning each time Frankenstein reminds Walton that he has been ruined. He suggests that he has become the victim of his own passion. His “thirst for knowledge” has ruled his fate, which led to his destruction mentally and physically.
For Frankenstein, it all started when a wonderful oak tree disintegrated into a small stump. Frankenstein was fascinated by the electrical surge of the lightning that shocked the tree. This fuelled him for his investigations and his large curiosity in science. Around two years before the tree incident, another reason that drove Frankenstein to discover deep into physics was the death of his mother, tragically dieing by scarlet fever after giving birth to Frankenstein’s brother, William. The death of his mother drove him to great interests in books and science.
Frankenstein started to get deep into science, and poems like “The Ancient Mariner” by Cornelius Agrippa fuelled him into it. (Cornelius Agrippa was a German scholar who lived from 1486 to 1535 and reputed to have raised people from the dead). Frankenstein got heavily into the gothic horror genre and proceeded to discover explanations for the world around him. This eager desire made him go to university and continue into the science path he was following into.
Frankenstein set off to join the University of Ingolstadt but the trip is delayed after his mother has caught scarlet fever from Elizabeth and dies. His spirits rise when he thinks what knowledge university would bring. This is the start of Frankenstein’s obsession with work and the start of the horrific side of Frankenstein. When Frankenstein starts university, a chemist, M Waldman, got attracted by Frankenstein’s motive to learn. Waldman thinks Frankenstein has “ability” and he has no doubt of Frankenstein success”
Frankenstein is very wanting and obsessive, “A new species would bless me as their creator no father could claim the generation of his child so completely as should deserve”. Here Shelly uses religious imagery that makes Frankenstein sound as if he is god and as if he “deserves” to do is creation and scientific inquiries. This shows his arrogance and how he thinks he is exceptional and he is allowed to meddle with the laws of science. This obsession drives him to create his creature, the science creation that didn’t go how he wanted it to.