His ‘agitation and anguish through the whole trial was extreme. ‘ He sat and watched while Justine bravely faced the consequences of his actions; she was hanged. In my opinion, it is appalling that Victor was willing to let Justine bear the consequences of his actions, when she was completely innocent. This presents Frankenstein in an even more hideous light than his creation, as he could have saved her life by confessing, but chose not to. Justine died frightened and perplexed as she knew nothing of the monster and was completely unaware of how she had become involved in this situation.
Even after the conclusion of the trial, Victor’s family remained oblivious of their son’s creation, yet he still decided to leave them in the dark even after the deaths of Justine and William; the results of his deceitfulness and secrecy. Frankenstein’s decision not to proclaim Justine’s innocence could be viewed as a far more serious transgression than the monster’s insincerity. His confession would have been the means of clearing Justine of the fallacious accusations that were being made against her. Mary Shelly has used dramatic irony within the novel and Justine’s trial exemplifies this.
We are aware that Frankenstein has created a monster and that it is responsible for the death of William; Frankenstein also knows this, but the other characters are unaware. Therefore, the reader is better informed than the characters. Frankenstein’s deplorable behaviour persists when he denies the monster a female companion by creating her but then later making a decision to destroy her. The monster tells Victor that he ‘must not refuse to concede’. He explains that, ‘if any being felt emotions of benevolence… ‘ then he ‘should return them a hundred and a hundredfold’ and that he will ‘… make peace with the whole kind’.
Surely, this is an equitable enough reason for Victor to concede and create a companion. However, Victor shows that he lacks empathy with his creation by saying, ‘… no torture shall ever extort a consent’. This is astounding as it is a perfect chance to pacify his creation. The monster says to Frankenstein that, neither him, ‘… nor any other human being shall ever see him again… ‘ if he were to be given a companion. The monster knows that it will be an arduous task for his master, but he still makes the request. It is a feasible task and a small price to pay considering that the burden in his life would be lifted; Frankenstein refuses.
This is heartless when his creation has lived a tortured existence and he denies it its only chance of happiness. The monster is anathema to his creator and all those who encounter him. His subsistence has not only been made more hellish by Frankenstein, but by the society that he was born into. He had to survive in a society that did not accommodate deformity or abnormality very well. These quotes are proof of this, “Who can describe in their horror and consternation on beholding me? ” “… with supernatural force tore me from his father… he dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with a stick. ”
The above show how the cottagers initially reacted on their first encounter with the monster. The repugnant appearance startled them and their instinct was to protect the old man. Felix’s decision was sudden and irrational; he did not know that the monster’s intentions were not to impair. He presumed that because of the monster’s outward appearance he would be a threat to the family. This highlights the inherent prejudices within society at this time. Another instance where the monster’s appearance incited malevolence was when he gallantly rescued a little girl from drowning and his only reimbursement was a gunshot in the shoulder,
“… he aimed a gun… the reward for my benevolence”. Due to the monster’s abnormal appearance, the little girl’s father saw him as a threat to his daughter; therefore, acted accordingly, which is understandable, but he did not even give the monster a chance to clarify the situation. In these two events, the monster was treated unfairly, as if he were a deformed hooligan, whose intentions were to harm and cause trouble, when in fact the monster’s aggressors behaved in a thuggish, brutal and irrational manner. This shows that society’s reactions are hasty and that first impressions are based on the way a person looks.
This is inexcusable because even though the monster’s appearance was ugly, he had the same emotions and feelings as any other human being. He acted benevolently and manifested signs of affection, yet he was subjected to persecution and a life of anguish and pain by an intolerant society. Frankenstein’s creation has a monstrous appearance, that is why he is referred to as a monster, “I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open… his yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath… his hair was a lustrous black…
his teeth of pearly whiteness but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes… his shriveled complexion and straight black lips. ” This description of the monster is an example of hyperbole. This over-exaggeration of the monster’s appearance makes the reader feel negatively towards him even before he embarks upon his life. The reader is, therefore, led to focus on all the wrong-doings of the monster, rather than taking into account all the shocking crimes that the other characters commit. Mary Shelley has also used letters as a medium to demonstrate monstrosity – for example, Robert Walton’s letters,
“His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition. ” This quote from one of many letters refers to the appearance of Frankenstein, which is analogous to that of his creation; monstrous. The reader can now visualize a gaunt and withered Frankenstein; now weak and frail in stark contrast to his appearance at the start of the novel. He has been consumed by his dream; the desire to create a being. Frankenstein is now the antithesis of his former self. Shelley has also used poems such as Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’ to express feelings and thoughts on creation.
She selected the following extract, “Like one, that on a lonesome road Doth walk in fear and dread, And having once turned round walks on, And turns no more his head; Because he knows, a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread. ” In the poem the ‘frightful fiend’ is the albatross, whereas in the novel it is the monster. The sailors are terrified of encountering the albatross and this line illustrates this, ‘Doth close behind him tread. ‘ Frankenstein is also frightened as he knows that the monster is searching for him and that he is going to have to encounter him at some stage.
Mary Shelley has utilized different aspects of monstrosity in the novel to substantiate the observation that monstrosity does not only relate to the appearance of an individual, but also to his actions. She has used monstrosity to highlight all the varied events within the novel, such as, Justine’s trial and Frankenstein’s creation of the monster