Frankenstein is a book written by Mary Shelley in the 19th century, in the new gothic genre. At the time when it was published, it was a very controversial book, raising many moral issues that were seldom talked about at that time. In this essay I will be trying to find out if Victor Frankenstein is morally reprehensible. The title implies that the whole of Victor Frankenstein’s character is immorally blameworthy. This is a narrow-minded statement, as it allows no room for argument. For example, only certain aspects of Victor Frankenstein’s character could have been seen as immoral.
If Frankenstein is morally reprehensive, it means that he knows he is responsible for the events that take place and accepts the responsibility. It is not possible for someone to stay in the same frame of mind for their whole life, so the title is too definitive a statement. It suggests that the whole of Victor Frankenstein, past, present and future, is completely immoral and there are no means of changing this. People are not only of one point of view the whole time; they react differently in different situations and also change with time.
People can be regretful one time, then completely fine the next, I think this is what Victor Frankenstein is like throughout the book. If Frankenstein was morally reprehensive as the title suggests, his crime would not be creating the monster as he could have taught him to do great things with his strength and intelligence. I think the crime would be neglecting the creature when he needed him the most. He left it the day it was made; to fend for itself and wish it were dead, without seeming to be in the slightest bit worried about him. In the book, Frankenstein seemed to be guilty but never actually accepted the blame.
He shows the guilt, but blames the creation for staying alive and acting upon his own instincts. Frankenstein also blames the society for not accepting the monster. If the people had allowed him into their society and offered him support and friendship, nothing so tragic would have happened. As Frankenstein shows these two frames of mind (being both guilty for the monster’s anguish, and leaving the blame on anything he can find to disguise his shame) the title is obviously too definitive as he shows he is acting differently in these different situations.
In chapter four Frankenstein feels ‘the first enthusiasm of success’ by creating the monster, but by chapter five is regretting it considerably and remembers it as a ‘terrible event’. This shows that Frankenstein acted in different ways, but he also knows he is to blame, realising his responsibility and becoming morally reprehensible. Though he never speaks it aloud, we, the reader, know that he knows he is to blame for the destruction the creature will cause to him.
Many people having read Frankenstein believe he is to blame for trying to ‘play God’ and interfering with the course of nature. Using body parts from thieves and murderers might have been where the creature inherited his ability to cause intense hurt and violence, but even though they were criminals, it is inhumane and disrespectful to cut up the dead. I think Frankenstein knew this, which is why he referred to them as ‘raw materials’ so as not to bring out the guilt of disturbing the dead. Frankenstein, though he didn’t make it clear in the book, rushed the process of creating the monster.
He tried to make him beautiful, but instead made him look terribly ugly and more like an ogre than a human being. Although Frankenstein blamed society for not accepting the monster, it was he that made him look so terrifying. Much of the creature’s anger was from the pain of being rejected by society due to his looks. Even if Frankenstein had looked after the creature at this point, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that the creation would never be fully accepted. In this aspect, society is to blame for the creature’s bitterness as people then, as they do now, judge by looks.
This is Frankenstein being morally reprehensible because he is understanding that if he had taken more care over the overall look of the monster, society would have accepted him, and the monster wouldn’t have been so bitter and lonely. There are both moral and philosophical issues raised in the story, which still occur today. I will use these ideas to help discuss the reality of the title. The inspiration for the story came from Dr. Lind, a man who Shelley’s husband greatly admired, who in a scientific experiment, sent electric waves through dead frog’s legs and they moved.