I Samuel 16:7 says "Man looks by the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the Heart." Society tries to place labels on individuals based on the physical attributes that they can see with their own eyes, but inside every individual there is a moldable perception of his/her own identity. In Frankenstein, the creatures perception of himself is the only accurate way to discover who he actually was, and to follow the changes of his identity throughout the book as he is rejected by society during every attempt at interaction. The creation was abandoned at birth and left to mature alone and educate himself. He does so by reading Frankensteins notes, studying several classic books, specifically Paradise Lost, and observing society. Miltons Paradise Lost is studied by the creation as a guide to his own beginnings; he is torn between the two identities that it reveals, Adam and Satan; although he longs to be Adam, he is pushed by society to accept that he is Satan. Adam, man, was the desired creation, while Satan, the beast, is the hated monster.
Victor Frankenstein is fascinated with natural philosophy and decides to step across the gender barrier and supernatural boundaries by "giving birth" to a new man. This passion drives Victor into the solitude of his laboratory until he completes his task. Just like the Biblical account of creation where God forms Adam out of the dust of the ground Victor, labors to "animate lifeless clay" (Shelley 32). He also urns to create something out of nothing and be the supreme being worthy of his creations eternal gratitude. Success in his laboratory would result in "a new species that would bless him as creator" (Shelley 32). The human birth process is achieved through the union of a mother and father, but this creation is going to be the result of his two hands. He would be the sole creator, God. While Victor wants to be recognized as God, he fails to show the godly attributes of commitment and comfort towards his creation. The lack of commitment and love shown by Victor really troubles the creation because it recognizes its creator, but the creator fails to accept it as a beautiful creation. Victor was too shallow and superficial in his concept of creation. He felt that "happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me" (Shelley 32), but failed to realize that he needed to be receiving and loving of his creation or he would push it away.
The intentions of his creator play a great role in the creatures search for identity and Victor Frankensteins desire to create a new species goes beyond a preoccupation with being God to include procreation as a man, with no woman or mother involved. From his studies Victor knew that writers could create "people" without a woman involved, and God had created Adam without the use of a woman; he wanted to do the same thing. The creation of the creature was the result of Victors self-centered experiments. The creature was going to be his work, "No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs" (Shelley 32). He was going to be the only individual that could take credit for this new creation and this accomplishment had never been done before. He felt this new feat demanded gratitude from every man on earth because it was state of the art, something beyond this world. Victor thought that he and everyone else on earth would look with pride at his creature, the one "whom he had created" (Shelley 35).
Victor Frankensteins preoccupation with being God, the creator, resulted in a creation that struggles to determine its own identity. The creature is left nothing but four books, one being Paradise Lost, and Victors note to determine who he really was. The creation of Adam in Paradise Lost reveals a situation similar to what the creature is facing. First, both were created from nothing by a supreme being and even more evident to the creature is that he, like Adam was, is the only creature of his kind on the face of the earth. Adam was created in the image of God and put on earth to rule over all the animals that had been created before him. This was his given purpose in life and he was in constant conversation with his creator, God. The creature on the other hand was left to acquire knowledge of his creator, and communication was nonexistent, "of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property . I was not even the same nature as man" (Shelley 80). The creature knows that he is different, alone, has nothing to his name, and longs to be a part of society. However, he also realizes that he lacks any deep tie to other humans in society and accepts that he will have to face this world by himself. The parallels that the creature is trying to draw between himself and Adam are starting to fade away and the differences are beginning to surface, the creature longs for communication with his creator like Adam had daily, "I remembered Adams supplication to his creator; but where was mine? He had abandoned me" (Shelley 88), but he is denied this opportunity. The creature is all alone and he realizes it, "I was created apparently united by no other link to any other being" (Shelley 87). This loneliness pushes him to seek out his own creator desperate for communion with the one who gave him life. Upon finding his creator the reunion is not what he had anticipated. He catches up to Victor and challenges him with the knowledge that he has acquired, "I learned from you papers that you were my father, my creator" (Shelley 94). By finding and confronting Victor, the creature thinks he has accomplished enough to follow the footsteps of Adam and walk with his creator as Adam had in the garden. He hopes that his life will soon take on meaning, but his plea for acceptance is denied and he is left in confusion. His creator holds no desire to communicate with him and the creature realizes that he will never be accepted as Adam was.
The isolation and hatred towards the creature doesnt end with his creator; everyone in society rejects him. From the moment of his birth the creature was considered a wretch by its creator, "I beheld the wretch- the miserable monster which I had created" (Shelley 35). The title "wretch" grows throughout the book instilling the principle that the creature was a monster not a man. After the death of William, Victor even calls the creature "devil" (Shelley 48) pushing it even further from society. The constant rejection by society and his creator weighs heavily on the creatures heart, "I cannot describe the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me" (Shelley 91). The final straw in his battle for acceptance into society was his rejection by the De Lacys. They had been his one attempt to draw himself into family. He approaches the old blind De Lacy and attempts to talk his way into the family and their society without his dreadful appearance scaring him away. This plan was successful until the rest of the family came home and was shocked by his deformed features. Felix De Lacy beat the creature until he ran for his life and the creature was left to reflect in the woods by himself, "they had spurned and deserted me" (Shelley 93). His last hope of being accepted had been shattered and once again he was an outcast.
Complete rejection and bitter hatred are shown toward the creature by every human pushing him to view himself as a monster, Satan, rather then Adam, a man. The turning point in his life comes when he sees the reflection of his face in a lake and he "became fully convinced that he was in reality a monster" (Shelley 76). As much as he wants to be a man and part of society he begins to accept that he really is more like a "fallen angel" (Shelley 66), and accepts that "misery has made him a fiend" (Shelley 66). The loneliness and isolation that rise up inside of him arise from the reality that he has no place in society convince him that he is wretched, helpless, and alone. "Satan is the fitter emblem of his condition" (Shelley 87). The acceptance of this identity is the first step towards his evil actions where he sets out to destroy creation, specifically Victors world and loved ones.
As Satan, a monster, the creatures acts of kindness and gentleness give way to a "hellish rage and the gnashing of teeth" (Shelley 96); a completely different individual is revealed. The change in his actions results from the fact that his own knowledge has been increased and he realizes that he will never be more then a "wretched outcast" (Shelley 88) to society and gives up trying to change the unchangeable. The acts of destruction and murder rise out of the suppressed rejection that he has carried with him since birth. He now wages a "everlasting war" (Shelley 92) on the species of man as revenge for the grief it has placed upon him. These cruel actions are the only way that the creature is able to express himself and the hurt he feels as a result of all the people who have shown time and time again that they want no involvement with him. The creature only wants to be accepted into society as a man, or successful creation, accepts the fact that he is a monster after every attempt to integrate himself into society fails miserably.
The creation of Frankenstein who was supposed to be the first of many in his new species was never accepted into society and was left to lead his life alone. His many attempts to tie himself into society and begin living his life as Adam were ignored by others. As a result, the creature took on a life as Satan, a monster, determined to physically harm mankind as retribution for the enormous agony and misery it had placed on his own life. Life as a monster was the only way that the creature could gain any recognition from society, and at the same time it gave him an outlet for all his anger. The creation of Frankenstein was a monster, but only as a result of exclusion from society.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. J Paul Hunter. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.