The opening of the novel is a letter from Walton to his sister. He writes about his dream expedition to discover ‘a passage near the pole to those countries to reach which at present so many months are requisite’. He wants to be the first to step foot open ground no other man has stepped on, and ‘discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle’. Walton says ‘ I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path’ this shows Walton is a hungrier for fame and admiration rather than money.
He ‘voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep’ this makes the reader think he is over obsessed. This is parallel to Frankenstein’s obsession to recreate life. Walton’s character is similar to Frankenstein’s; they are both over ambitious, knowledgeable and unaware of the dangers in consequence to their actions. The point Shelley is trying to make throughout the story is that these qualities in a person, if out of control, could cause problems.
Frankenstein is obsessed with science, ‘natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry became my sole occupation’. Shelley writes that during the creation of the creature Frankenstein is spending ‘days and nights in vaults and charnel-houses’. At this point he comes across as quite crazy and rather disturbing. He appears to be so excited and passionate to the extent that he doesn’t even realise what he is doing is disgusting and immoral. ‘I pursued my undertaking with unremitting ardour. My cheek had grown pale with study…’ This shows us that, similar to Walton, he stays up for endless hours, doesn’t go home or even eat.
Frankenstein does not realise he is making mistakes, this is shown when he says: ‘Sometimes, on the very brink of certainty, I failed; yet still clung to the hope…’ However us as the readers know the future doesn’t look so bright for Victor, he may be hopeful, but he is not thinking before carrying out his investigations. Shelley is sending the message that science is risky and dangerous, it was poorly understood therefore scientists were making thoughtless decisions.
Shelley writes the creature coming alive from Frankenstein’s point of view therefore it is very biased. Even though the creature is described in great detail, it is only described by its looks. Frankenstein becomes prejudice and claims the creature is a ‘wretch’ ‘grotesque’ and ‘vile’. Its features include ‘straight black lips’ and ‘yellow skin scarcely covering the work of muscle and arteries’. This gives us the impression that the creature is some kind of deformed monster. This is the point that Frankenstein finally faces reality and comes to know of his mistakes. However, he still makes another mistake – he doesn’t accept the responsibility for his actions and runs away.
This is shown when he says ‘the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart’. Further in the chapter Frankenstein awakes from his nightmare to find the creature by his side with ‘jaws open’ ‘a grin wrinkled on his cheek’ and ‘one arm stretched out, seemingly to detain’. This gives us the impression that this hideous creature is violent and threatening to mankind. At this part in the story it appears the creature has no feelings or emotions. In this scene ‘the rain pattered dismally’ this reflects the mood, the disappointment and bitterness Victor Frankenstein is feeling. Shelley shows Frankenstein to be scared and anxious when ‘pacing the streets with quick steps, as if I sought to avoid the wretch’, which collaborates with the ‘dismal and wet’ morning with ‘rain which poured from a black and comfortless sky’ to create a tense atmosphere.
When the creature tells his own account of the story our feelings towards him begin to change. The creature uses a good range of vocabulary such as: ‘obliged’ and ‘distinguished’. This means that the creature is starting to think and learn without any support or guidance. The creature says ‘ a strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard and smelt,’ showing that it is maturing and can feel physical sensations. It noticed the different reactions to temperature and light and begins to adapt to its surroundings. We feel admiration for the creature, who even though left abandoned, has not lost hope and is still trying to understand life and fit in.
Furthermore, we soon realise that the creature actually has feelings when it was delighted at the warmth from a fire left by wandering beggars that it naively thrust its hand into the live embers but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. This shows it is curious and willing to learn from its mistakes to become smart. This makes us feel sympathy for the creature knowing it is just as sensitive as any human. We feel even more sympathy for the creature when on his travels he enters a village to be welcomed by shrieking children, and attacks to end up ‘bruised by stones and many other missile weapons.’
The creature has now learnt to expect bad reactions knowing that humans are prejudice after just experiencing the ‘barbarity of man’. He starts to experience fear so seeks asylum, but is not at all aggressive. Shelley illustrates the creature to be appreciative and observant. This is shown when he saw the young girl ‘taking up the instrument and playing to produce sounds sweeter than the voice of the thrush or the nightingale. This shows he is empathetic and sees innocence in everything inconsiderate of how others have treated him. Shelley wants us to feel sorry for the creature because he wouldn’t be living under such horrible circumstances if people would take responsibility for their actions.