The "creature" of Frankenstein

Victor’s creation is described, in the book Frankenstein, in multiple ways, including fiend, wretch, and even devil. These are all inappropriate terms when all of the creature’s actions are taken in perspective. The creature of Frankenstein is a caring, compassionate being that is forced into the barbaric way that he lives his life through the prejudices of his creator, Victor. The term that best represents this being is, as Victor originally states, a "new species," and through the neglect by Victor and others around him who couldn’t overlook the crude design of the bodily features, this "new species" was forced to find its place in the world only through revenge, primarily targeted at Victor.

While Victor was preparing to create new life, he clearly expected greatness in his creation. His hope was that "a new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me" (32). Even as he looked upon his creation before inspiring the spark of life, he saw a benevolent, happy creature that could add to the development of human society. He knew full well what his creation looked like, but still felt that it would become an accepted new species that could call him their father. He was the creator of a whole new group of creatures. He did not create the being that later developed into the monster when he constructed the creature out of miscellaneous parts. The creature he made was exactly what he intended: one with a happy and excellent nature, and one that could "bless him as creator and source."

Even after being rejected by Victor upon coming to life, the creature still clung to his "happy and excellent nature" (32). Upon giving the spark of life to the creature, Victor immediately saw the yellow shine of the creature’s eyes, and "breathless horror and disgust filled (his) heart" (34). When Victor retired to his bed to abandon his creation, the creature appeared in his room. The creature approached the bed with one arm outstretched. Then he grinned. Victor ran away in the belief that this creature was a vengeful one that is attempting to detain and harm him. Upon closer inspection of the creature’s actions, there is a much different intent expressed by the creature. The creature came into being that night, and knew nothing of what or when he was. Just as an infant does with the first people it is around, most often the parents, he reached out to Victor, the only parent figure he could find. He was looking only for compassion and direction in a world that he could not understand. Probably the most important event in this scene is the creature’s grin. Victor does not seem to understand the meaning of such a grin from a newly created creature. Since the creature was made of human parts, we can only assume that it would have the same facial expressions as a human, and therefore, we could only judge his intent based on what we know already of human expressions. Yet Victor goes completely against those ideas when he takes the grin on the creature’s face to mean some sort of malice, or hate. We should know that this grin is like an infant grin, one of pleasure and love towards that which must be its creator and father. It reaches out and smiles towards that being which it sees as being its protector and leader. Victor abandons this responsibility due to some prejudice against the face that he himself gave the creature. All he could find in the grin and outstretched arm was the horror and disgust at himself for creating such an ugly creation. Although this contributed tremendously to the deterioration of the creature’s life, it did not by itself, completely destroy the life of the creature.

The creature that Victor created realized just how much he did not belong in the human society after his long encounter with the De Lacey family. After watching the family from his hiding place, and starting to feel like he knew and understood the family, he received the worst rejection he ever had to face when the De Lacey’s beat him and chased him away. The creature spent his time at the De Lacey cottage teaching himself many things, including reading and writing. He learned the language of the family, and how words related to one another. The creature even got to the point where he was willing to do chores for the De Lacey family without them knowing who did it. He would go out and cut firewood for the boy, and return it so that the boy could do other work that would help them out more. The family was even heard to "utter the words good spirit, wonderful" (77) about the work that the creature did. Both phrases, good spirit and wonderful, exemplify that "excellent nature" that was developed in Victor’s creation. It is evident that he did not lose all those characteristics before this point. Even though all his intentions were good, and even appreciated by the cottagers, once he showed himself to the other members of the cottage, he was quickly beaten and driven away. The only one who seemed to accept the creature was the blind father; he was the only one who looked past the outer shell of the creature and learned the true identity of the being that stood before him. To him, this creature could have been that "good spirit" which had been helping them out. But instead, the cottagers drove the creature away, and the creature’s "heart sunk within (him) as with better sickness" (91). He was quickly sinking into despair from all the rejection he was receiving from both his creator, and the only family he had known. He was devastated, but still found one way in which he could have hope to keep living.

The only thing he had left to live for was the possibility of being the start of a new species. After being rejected from the lives of humans, he knew the only way to be happy was to be off on his own starting his life anew with the aid of another like him. That is why he asked Victor for the creation of a female mate. The rejection of this request is what fully transformed this new species into the role of murderer of all that Victor loves. It all stems from the misperceived facial expressions of the creature once again. Victor noticed the creature outside the window while working on his mate, and saw "a ghastly grin wrinkled on his lips as he gazed upon me," (115) just as he saw the grin back when the creature entered his room on the day of his creation. Victor viewed this expression as the "utmost extent of malice and treachery" (115). A simple grin showing pleasure for what Victor was doing for him was seen as a sign that the creature was up to no good once more. All Victor could see in his creation’s face was betrayal and treachery. Victor lets his prejudice against the face that he created take over his judgements of the creature’s intentions, and refuses to grant what the creature requested. He murdered the new creature that he was constructing, and forced the existing creature to be alone and suffer by itself. Victor thus created the monster that he feared the most. Now that the creature was fully rejected by everyone he had met, and was refused the right to have a companion of his own species, he resorted to the only thing that any creature can do when alone and rejected, violence. He became the monster that Victor had imagined him to be.

This drastic change from the benevolent being to the monster is clear the last time in which the creature is seen to grin. It is noticed, in the first two instances, that the creature’s grin was one of joy and happiness in the new things he would receive, including a parent and a female mate, but in the end his last smile became what Victor had always imagined the creature’s smile to mean. It truly was an evil grin. After the creature killed Elizabeth, Victor saw him outside of the window and sure enough, "a grin was on the face of the monster; he seemed to jeer" (136). This grin was full of malicious intent, and it was showing joy only in the suffering of Victor. This is the point where it is clear that the new species that Victor created has become the monster that he had always imagined and feared.

If Victor had not rejected the new species, it is possible that it would not have transformed into a murderer, and it could have existed in a peaceful way. The easiest way to see this fact is that people who did not have clear images of his figure did not turn away, but rather thought of him as a normal human being. I have already shown the reaction to the creature that was shown by the De Lacey father, but there is an even better example of this. Even in the seeing community, it was possible to believe that the creature was actually a human. The lieutenant on Walton’s ship referred to the creature, when describing it to Victor, as a man. In fact, even Walton described the creature as "a being with the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic stature" (13). This is in direct contrast to when he later tells Margaret that it was the "apparition of the monster" (146) that convinced him of the truth of Victor’s tale. Without the influence of Victor, the crew, including Walton, were willing to accept the creature as a human, just like themselves. Only after the insistence of Victor did the others start to deny the creature its human form. If it was not for the influence of Victor, the creature had the chance to be revered by this crew and many others around him.

Victor’s prejudice rubbed off on the way the creature viewed himself too. After all that occurred to the creature, he was forced to ask himself, "Was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled?" (81). He was forced, by the disregard from Victor, to look upon himself with disgust and horror. Just as Victor believed him to be, the creature looked upon himself as the monster that could not be accepted anywhere. He became the inhuman beast that would never belong in the world of man. It was only through Victor’s complete disregard for the life of the creature that this creature was forced into the role of the murderer and stalker of all that was dear to Victor.

This creature was the first, and only being to belong to this "new species." He started off looking for compassion and love, and when that was denied, even by his own creator, he, along with his whole species, became devoted to the barbaric life of a murderer and criminal. This new species was very impressionable and was forced to take on the role that the creator, Victor, assigned to it, which was that of a fiend and monster. Only due to Victor’s idea of the creature, do any of these terms have relevance on the creature. Victor transformed this loving, benevolent creature into a monster and beast through his disregard and rejection of this new species’ life.

 

Works Cited

Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Ed. Stuart Curran. U of Pennsylvania. 26 Apr. 2000 <http://www.english.upenn.edu/knarf/frank.html>

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. J. Paul Hunter. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.