In 1818 Mary Shelley wrote a gothic novel called Frankenstein. It is about Victor Frankenstein, who intended to invent a ‘beautiful’ creature, but ‘the beauty of the dream vanished’. Instead he created a repulsive monster that was rejected from society. Throughout the book Shelley instills both sympathy and antipathy in the reader for the monster. I will be exploring this through different elements like aesthetics, individual choice and God vs. Science. Victor placed his trust in scientific development and when the creature he created didn’t turn out the way he wanted, he rejected it and also rejected himself.
He set out to make a wonderful creature to prove science and individual genius could beat God. He managed to produce this creature but it wasn’t so wonderful, it was a horrific, grotesque monster. ‘A breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. ‘ This shows that Victor was disgusted by his creation and it wasn’t what he had expected at all. At this point the reader feels sympathy for the monster as he has been rejected by his only friend – his father figure in some aspects. Also the reader feels antipathy for Victor. This is because Victor had created a grotesque being and now cannot change his creations.
In Frankenstein, the monster is naturally kind, For example, when the girl falls in the river, the monster’s natural instinct was to save her and he did. Victor abandoned him and society rejected him and it was only as a result of this he turned bad. He was referred to as a ‘demon’ and ‘too horrible for human eyes,’ by Victor. This makes you empathise for the monster because even his creator is disgusted at him. It makes you think ‘how could Frankenstein do such a thing? ‘ There are many individual decisions that are made in Frankenstein, that lead to feelings of sympathy and antipathy towards various characters.
To start, there’s the chapter where the monster befriends the ‘de lacey’ family, or as the monster calls them ‘cottagers’ or ‘his protectors’. However they are repulsed by his appearance and spurn him. ‘Who can describe their horror and consternation on beholding me? ‘ This shows the reaction from the cottagers when they saw him was indescribable. Also in some way it was unexpected as the monster had got to know them over several months. It was the monster’s individual choice to greet the family, and it instilled sympathy for him.
He was only trying to make friends, yet his alone repulsed them. The next individual decision the creature makes was to kill William, Victor Frankenstein’s brother. Victor thought ‘could he be the murderer of my brother? ‘ And indeed he was. But Justine (a close family friend) was convicted of the crime and killed. At the point in the story, you feel antipathy for the monster as, although it was done in revenge, he killed two of Victor’s close relatives. Towards the end of the story, the monster demands a bride (new monster) from Victor.
‘You must create a female for me, with whom I can live. ‘ Victor doesn’t agree that it’s a good idea, as he believes they will start killing people together. ‘I will never consent,’ Victor tells him. In the end, Victor does agree to make a female for him and whilst making it he tears it apart. ‘Trembling with passion, I tore to pieces thing on which I was engaged. ‘ The monster watches Victor do this and we experience the monster’s agony whilst doing so. He only wanted a friend, one that wouldn’t reject him and when Victor tears it apart it’s like his dream has been destroyed.