Is Mary Shelley More Sympathetic towards Frankenstein or his creation? What message does this novel have for society? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is an epistolary novel; an epistolary novel is one that is written in the form of a series of letters. This type of writing allows the reader to be easily manipulated into thinking certain things, as the letters only mention what the characters writing the letters are aware of. This makes the reader unaware of other situations and creates a lot of mystery in the novel and particularly the characters themselves. Using this style of writing Mary Shelley instantly persuades the readers to view Frankenstein as the hero of the novel and his nameless creation as the villain.Order now
Frankenstein starts of in the novel as a young intelligent man who is embarking on a trip to a university where he meets a professor who once experimented with life at dangerous levels. Frankenstein overhears this knowledge from a fellow class mate Henry Clerval and is intrigued. This Information soon leads to Frankenstein’s discovery of his professors notes, his professor had no intention of ever picking up from where he was forced to stop, but Frankenstein had other ideas, when his professor unfortunately passed away it led Frankenstein to believe that the research already done would be wasted if it wasn’t completed, so he took it upon himself to carry the experiments out. It led to a gruesome obsession which left Victor Frankenstein isolated from his friends and family and extremely ill.
He doesn’t think about the consequences or the results of what he is embarking on, however he goes ahead and does it thinking only of the enormous discovery’s he has made if he can successfully create life. ‘his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriance’s only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes’ This is the description of the creation as it comes to life, instead of the image of an innocent new born, he is described as almost and evil inhuman being. Victor Frankenstein is instantlyrepulsed by his creations ugliness and he rushes out of the room. Neglected at birth the creature could only leave to learn and find happiness.
To begin with the creature only ever wanted happiness and a sense of belonging, Victor wasn’t able to give this so the creation went and searched for this feeling. ‘I longed to join them, but dared not’ page 113 This quote from the creature shows his feelings whilst he was observing the De’Lacey family and didn’t want anything more than to join them, but once he realised he could never truly belong to a family of humans with normal appearances he starts to show his dark side becoming more and more evil as the story goes on. ‘I, like the archfiend, bore a hell within me, and finding myself unsympathised with, wished to tear up trees, spread havoc and destruction around me and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin.’
This shows what the creation is really capable of and how his mind is working in the reaction to the treatment from others and the feeling of neglect and hatred. The creature even thought of murder in a twisted thought of revenge, to find pleasure. ‘I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants, and have gutted myself with their shrieks and misery.’ Mary Shelley has managed to pass the sympathy vote very easily in simply giving us the creatures feelings and thoughts, we initially felt sympathy towards Victor Frankenstein, however when the monster tells us his side of the story we shift our views completely giving the sympathy vote to the creation and feeling angry towards Victor Frankenstein for allowing the creature to go through such pain and neglect.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has a second title; ‘The Modern Prometheus’ Prometheus in Greek mythology was a titan who stole fire from Olympia and gave it to the humans. For this, the gods punished him by having him tied to a rock and each day large birds would feast on his organs, only for them to have grown back by the next morning meaning a lifetime of suffering. This story has to link with the novel or else it’s a pointless second title. Personally I feel that it links in very well with the novel because Victor Frankenstein is Prometheus, just like Prometheus Frankenstein thought that what he was doing was for the good of mankind, he only had the best intentions however it backfired and he was punished much like Prometheus but with the murder of his loved ones by his neglected creation.
Mary Shelley’s life involved a lot of traumatic times, whilst growing up she had no mother as she unfortunately passed away during child birth, she then gave birth to deformed children who went on to pass away. This could have been represented in the novel, portraying herself as Victor Frankenstein and her deformed children as the creation. However the creation in the novel doesn’t die, I think that she may have been thinking about how her children’s lives would have been had they lived to an older age, with people still making assumptions over looks and appearances. Also Mary Shelley lived in a very religious time where the abnormal were seen as a sign of the devil, if she grew up taking care of her children she would have been treated awfully and she would not have been accepted in her time, this is like Victor Frankenstein fearing people knowing he is responsible for the creation.