The tale of Frankenstein has and will continue to be a fixture on the minds of scientists and the general public alike when exploring the possibilities science has to offer. The story still has relevance simply because the ideas behind it are an accurate foreshadowing of both scientific advancement and the fear and concerns surrounding these issues. Prejudice Prejudice, (and the importance of appearance and acceptance) is one of the main themes explored in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In today’s society, and also in the society of Frankenstein, people judge one often solely on their looks.
Social prejudice is often based on looks, whether it be the colour of someone’s skin, the clothes that a person wears, the facial features that one has etc. People can make snap judgments based on these and this can affect the way the judged person is treated, as is the case of the monster in the story. In Frankenstein the society of that time is much like our own today. It is an appearance based society, and this is brought to the forefront by the extreme ugliness of Victor Frankenstein’s monster to a common human being.
The monster is judged at many interval throughout the story. In the very beginning, Victor is repulsed at what he has created, and flees from the scene. Shortly after this, whilst the monster is foraging for food on the outskirts of the city, he is driven out by angry villagers throwing rocks at him and threatening him. After this, he meets an innocent young girl, who, free from the prejudices of the adult world, does not judge him. Instead, she takes him inside her home to her grandfather, who, being blind, cannot see or judge the monster.
The monster is touched by this and his faith in humans is restored when the rest of the family return and drive him away. This is a crushing blow to the monsters emotions as he realises that he is alone, and that nobody loves him. The monster seemingly ‘turns evil’ after coming into the world full of love and kindness. This is because, much like a child neglected and abandoned in modern society, thee monster was rejected and abandoned by his parent, and, having no true role model to aspire to, is forced to face the cruel world alone, not having been taught right from wrong.
Although we see that he begins to learn these basic principles when he cuts wood for the family in return for the food he takes, we see later on with the murders he commits that his tragic flaw is his anger. The monster, because of his desperation to be loved and escape his loneliness goes looking for Victor. Although his efforts are in vain, as Victor, full of hate for the creature, refuses to acknowledge the monster as his son, rejecting him once more.
Shelley creates pity for the monster in Chapter 11, when the narrative changes to the monster’s point of view, so that we are able to empathise with him. After a few lines it becomes obvious that this “monster” isn’t the cold hearted heathen Victor has portrayed. In fact, Frankenstein’s creation is very human-like: he has feelings, desires and even his own distinct personality. As the reader, we develop a genuine sense of pity, not loathing, for the beast once he relates his difficult situation to the reader.
The monster begins his story by recalling his earliest memories and how he came to be. The monster’s beginnings are vague, as are the memories of most adults when they recall their childhood. He learns about his bodily sensations and the strange world around him. Bad parenting Although Frankenstein contains many warnings, it is undoubtedly a cautionary tale of bad parenting, and the consequences of this for the individuals concerned. It is not the monster’s fault that he was abandoned by Frankenstein from the beginning. In doing this, Victor appears to be cruel, selfish and unfair.
This is highlighted when, having created the creature, on seeing the contrast between his dream and the reality of the, “”.. miserable monster” he flees from his apartment, terrified at what he has done. It is not until the desperate and unhappy creature has already murdered his young brother, William, and tells him his story, begging for a mate, that Frankenstein briefly feels the slightest responsibility for him. It is at this point in the novel that he thinks to himself, ‘… and did I not as his maker, owe him all the portion of happiness that it was in my power to bestow?
‘ The creature’s ‘childhood’ is condensed into a matter of months. His first experience of Victor, his parent and maker is one of rejection, and this sets the pattern for his life. We are told that, on being ‘born’, the creature made his way to Frankenstein’s bedside, ‘… his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me… ‘
In all probability, the creature was reaching out, as a small child does to their mother, but his ugly appearance only frightened Victor into running away. He is first rejected by his parent/creator on first seeing him, an this is followed by rejection and prejudice by everyone else he meets, be it the villagers who stone him, the man who shoots him after he has saved the little girl’s life, the DeLacey’s who beat him and then disappear overnight or William, who even though he is a child, shows the very same prejudice because of the creature’s appearance.
No matter how kind he is, or how educated and civilised he becomes, the result is always the same. The monster never manages to interact positively with others or find friendship, and we can see his self esteem sink lower and lower, the more he is rejected, and becomes lonelier and more alienated from society. It is at this that eventually changes him from a kind, affectionate, and reasonable being, to a bitter murderer. In Chapter 10, both the monster and Victor come face to face for the first time since the monster’s creation.
Victor’s words are full of contempt and hate for the monster, who has already killed Justine and William, and the monster expresses his feelings of misery and loneliness, and he talks of how he has received no affection whatsoever, only rejection, ‘… I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces, and triumph; remember that and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?
You would not call it murder, if you could precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts, and destroy my frame, the work of your own hands. Shall I respect man when he condemns me? Let him live with me in an interchange of kindness; and, instead of injury I would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude at his acceptance… ‘ The heated discussion continues, with Victor hurling abuse at his creation, using words like ‘vile insect,’ ‘abhorred monster,’ ‘wretched devil,’ whilst the monster protests, and, expressing his feeling of loneliness,
begs Frankenstein to create a bride for him, so that he may not be alone for all of eternity. At the end of the story, when Frankenstein has died, the creature boards the ship intent on taking his final revenge, but is overcome with grief and remorse upon finding Frankenstein dead, having lost the only family he has ever known. Capt. Walton returns to the room in which the body lies, and is startled to see the monster weeping over Victor. The monster tells Walton of his immense solitude, suffering, hatred, and remorse.
He asserts now that his creator has died, he too can end his suffering. The monster then departs for the northernmost ice to die. Much of the ‘bad parenting’ issue in Frankenstein relates to modern times. There are growing numbers of children from single parent backgrounds where, for certain reasons, they have been abandoned by one or both of their parents. In today’s society, it is more commonly the case of fathers abandoning their children very young.
There is a significant pattern between the numbers of children who are raised without one or both of their parents and the numbers of children who turn to crime. The tale of Frankenstein’s monster relates to this in the same way: he was left to raise himself, having been abandoned by Frankenstein, and murdered several people throughout the story, having not been taught right from wrong. Had Frankenstein been there for the monster and not rejected him from the very beginning, things may not have turned out in the way they did.