In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley tells us much about the education of Victor’s creature (VC). He tells Victor, and in turn, the reader, about his life until now in a nicely chronological order; starting with him struggling to “distinguish between the operations of [his] various senses”, right through to him learning about the “importance of emotion to any definition of humanity” (the English Review). The tale of VC opens with him explaining his development from a very early age.
This allows us to see Mary Shelley’s first attempt at presenting the creature as a “noble savage” – here, he cannot even differentiate between his senses, yet “Darkness came over [VC], and troubled [VC]; but hardly had I felt this when… the light poured in on me” – this implies, if somewhat covertly, the creature’s noble nature – being troubled by darkness (evil) and “saved” by light (good). At this point, however, most of VC’s narrative is merely detailing his basic learning to survive. VC shows many signs of humanity – learning from the pain of the fire not to touch it, yet discovering light and heat come from the fire also.
He also has the intelligence to question how something with such benefits could convey such pain. When he is trying to continue the fire, he learns by cause and effect; he touches the wood, discovers it must be dry before burning, and then collects plenty of wood to dry out. It is from here that VC’s learning becomes slightly more tragic. He learns next that people seem to hate him for no apparent reason. He enters a village, where he suffers attack “… until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I [VC] escaped to the open country… “.
Proof of the lesson that he has learned comes in his being too afraid to enter the house attached to the hovel he hides in. The creature is developing a fear and distrust of man; “I saw the figure of a man at distance, and I remembered too well my treatment the night before, to trust myself in his power”. It is here that there is another turning point in VC’s learning. Here, learning from observing the De Lacey family, he develops a deep in and insatiable desire for human company, and develops many complex human skills and feelings.
The first of these is not something so much learnt, but it is evidence that he is a noble savage; “..taking up an instrument, began to play, and to produce sounds sweeter than the voice of the thrush or the nightingale. ” He can appreciate music – surely proof that Mary Shelley wishes him to be considered in human terms, not monstrous. VC also shows an appreciation for beauty that most humans could not boast;