The original horror novel was written by Mary Shelley, the novel mirrors and reflects on parts of her life. The novel is emotionally very deep, it shows Shelley’s great concern to someone being born with a disability or with sheer ugliness. When the book was published it caused a stir amongst many philosophers, scientists and its readers. They believed it was wrong for a woman to talk about such a subject. She was questioning whether people were nurtured to be corrupt or were born like that. In some ways she was asking `Does society create its own monsters? `.
Mary Shelley was the daughter of an anarchist philosopher, someone who disbelieves in any form of government, and writer William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollenstonecraft who died a few days after giving birth. Someone who you would describe as a wild child, she grew up surrounded by radical-often revolutionary-people during the Napoleonic wars, a time of frequent political and civil unrest and accelerating change in society. The novel is about a young eager scientist creating life and the consequences he faces in doing so. This ambitious scientist toys with the concept of creating life.
Where his outrageous experiments result in disastrous consequences, leaving him feeling resentful towards his creation. Victor is the main character, who Mary Shelley focuses on a majority of the time. The other main focus is on the monster himself who remains unnamed throughout which creates an air of mystery. Throughout the book Mary Shelley switches between the viewpoints of each of these figures, primarily the monster is unaware of Viktor’s being; it’s only when he’s learnt to talk and understand does he realise and feel contempt towards Viktor.
Through the tales and excited scribbles in a notebook victor had taken pleasure in noting down his discoveries and plans in his mad scientific days. An accidental encounter with the younger brother stirs the monster and he kills the little brother when he realises he is related to victor. You might feel sorry for the monster because he never asked to be created and when he was he was so hideous his father (Viktor) abandoned him leaving him like a lost sheep. So the monster had to fend for himself, this is where I’d argue this being the incentive for his unruly callous behaviour.
But on the other hand you could sympathise the most with Viktor as he’s the one whose experiment has gone wrong. After putting so much time and effort into this project and putting his marriage several times on the line. Later on in the novel Viktor loses his brother, friends and his dear wife there’s only so much grief a man can bear to cope with. But then again maybe he shouldn’t have played God. Mary Shelley uses her writing skills to switch the reader’s state of mind after making the monster out to be the villain.
When the monster responds to Viktor’s inconsiderate remarks in a calm intellectual manner this creates pity towards him. “Have I not suffered enough that you seek to increase my misery? “She compares Viktor and the monster at this point and as the monster reveals his inner fears with sensitivity. In the beginning when the monster has been created Viktor’s response to his creation makes you feel deeply sorry for the monster. “Its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost horrible for human eyes”, sympathy is created through Viktor’s focus on the monsters ugly appearance.
The use of ‘unearthly’ gives a clear indication of how Viktor/mankind views the monster. So from that you can predict the turmoil the monster is going to experience in the near future. “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath… ” this phrase shows Viktor’s rejection towards the monster. It also shows his utter disgust and regret for making the monster. This generates sympathy for the monster because he didn’t ask to be born and being rejected for being ugly would make you feel awful.
At their first meeting victor name calls the monster, “devil”, “vile insect” and “fiend thou art! ” Shelley carefully chooses words with evil connotations to emphasise Viktor’s hatred, however this further heightens the reader’s sympathy. It does this because it is victor who we are seeing as a monster with his actions due out the novel, while the monster try’s to take a more civilised approach. Mary Shelley pulls at the reader’s heart strings when she makes the monster say that he is “wretched”. This makes you feel sorry for the monster because now he believes he is worthless and deserves what he gets!
The monsters understanding of a creators duty to it creation, bearing in mind that the monster has fended for himself thinking about his own morals and understandings of the human life and taught himself how to speak! “How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me”. Pathos is increased further by the monsters expression of disappointment in Viktor. Shelley’s word of the word “duty” introduces the theme of taking responsibility for your actions. So the monster blames Viktor for not taking responsibility for him.