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Where Does the Fault Lie?

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1383
  • Category: Honor

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Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly, is a horror story about a man and the terrible consequences that lurk behind his actions like a shadow. This man’s selfishness and worldly desire never fails to overcome him. He’s a man, but lives as a puppet with a shadow of greed working every limb of his body like a marionette. Frankenstein reveals the inherent torment that chases anyone who tries to alter the laws of nature. When Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist, seeks to create life and succeeds, his creature turns out be something of hell- a monster. Like a nuclear physicist that receives radiation poisoning, Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s genius allowed him to create something amazing that torments him in the end. But who is responsible for all the wrong the monster does? The blood shed after the monster is created is only on one being’s hands.

Victor’s character, time after time, reveals to the reader that he is stubborn and conceited by nature. From a young age, Victor was intrigued by, “the secrets of heaven and earth” (Shelley 19). Not physical, but spiritual science enthralled Victor. His father observed this odd behavior and discouraged him from pursuing it, but Victor’s selfish ways overcame him so he studied more. At one point, Victor says, “…glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!” (Shelley 20). His fathers disapproval as a young man made him feel as though he had something to prove.

Study and grow in knowledge was the least of Victor’s intentions when creating the monster. Victor not only wanted to practice the sciences and perform research, he wanted all the glory that came with it, just as God instructs his followers to glorify him for he is their creator.

Victor experienced more adversity beside his father’s disprovable in the formative years of his life. Victor lost his mother to illness shortly before leaving for his schooling which may have left an emotional void that led to clouded decision making. Psychology Today, in reference to mourning a loss states, “When you lose a parent, you may also lose a lifelong friend, counselor, and adviser. Therefore, you may suddenly feel very much alone, even if you have the support of other family and friends.” Victor may have thought that by creating a monster, he would be able to fix the loneliness he was feeling following his mothers death.

Victor’s mother’s passing left him traumatized and may have made him so fearful of death that he thought the only way to overcome it was to create life. Victor’s creation in Frankenstein may be considered a symptom of bereavement, which Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines as, “the state or fact of being […] deprived of something or someone.” One symptom of bereavement is bargaining which is when the individual suffering a loss thinks there’s something they can do to get their loved one back. Victor’s creating the monster was the way his bargaining stage manifested itself.

Many argue that the actions of the monster are Victor’s fault because he created it and created it for the wrong reasons but Victor believed that if he could create life, maybe he could fix the discouragement his father brought him and bring his mother back or keep him from dying. By bringing inanimate parts to life, Victor felt as though he had conquered death.

Evaluating his character, no matter what the reason or cause one chooses to believe, Victor was not in a sound mentally state when he created the monster and if he was tried in a criminal court today, he would not be held responsible for the actions of the monster but instead dismissed as unstable.

The monster in Frankenstein is also never held accountable for his actions but this is only because of his ability to escape and evade confrontation. Because he was conceived in an unnatural, non- conventional way, some dismiss his behavior as they would a child’s or a pet’s but many would argue that the monster is a mature, autonomous human guilty of grave evil.

Throughout the book, the monster displays countless times how human-like he is. “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of lustrous, black, and flowing: his teeth of pearly whiteness but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same color as the dun- white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips” (Shelley 35). This description depicts the monstrosity Frankenstein created as well as how human appearing he is. Although warped and deformed, he has much of the same anatomy as human.

After seeing what he made, Victor runs away and as a result the monster starts his life with a traumatic event. One of the first things the monster feels is abandonment. He becomes self aware very rapidly then longs for love, affection, and companionship just like any lonely person does. The monster shows that he has a heart and the feelings that come with it. Shortly after proving his autonomy, the monster lashes out by murdering a young boy he discovers is related to his abandoning creator.

A word one may use to help understand the deep human nature of the monster is agathokakological which Merriam- Webster’s dictionary defines as, “consisting of both good and evil.” In Steven James book Sailing Between the Stars, James argues that this word is the most human defining characteristic because we are created perfectly by God in his image but then corrupted by the world and the evil that is in it “bestial and celestial.” I think this word proves that the monster is human because he is created as innocent and good but is soon molded by the evil and isolation the world contains.

The monster then proves to the reader that he is a smart and logical being. He retreats to the forrest and begins to camp outside a small cottage. He sees the people inside and longs to be friends with them. To earn their friendship, he gathers and delivers wood for them. This action shows the reader that in his short time on Earth, he has already surpassed very primitive understanding of society. He soon begins to read and learn how to speak. His ability to adapt to his environment and incredible wit show that he knows what he is doing when commits a crime or some other sort of evil deed.

The Law Dictionary cites two main systems of determining an individuals mental health as it pertains to crimes committed. The first test, called the “M’Naughten Rule”, deems a criminal insane on the basis of whether or not they were aware of what they were doing when the offense was committed. The reader knows the monster is aware of what he was doing when he killed Victor’s little brother because he says, “Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy  to him towards whom I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be my first victim. […] I gazed on my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph: clapping my hands.

Exclaimed, ‘I, too, can create desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable; this death will carry despair to him, and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him” (Shelley). This quote shows his actions were premeditated and with malice. The second test, called the “Irresistible Impulse” test, evaluates if the accused knew what they were doing but could not stop themselves. The monster proved he was capable of temperance and controlling himself when he could kill but instead runs away which passes. For example, when the monster approaches Victor in the storm, he does not kill him but instead threatens him. This shows that the monster had self control and is thus guilty of all his crimes.

In conclusion, the monster is responsible for the terrible events that occur in this book because of his human characteristics such as his anatomy, his agathokakological nature, his wit, and his autonomy. While Victor is coping with his father’s disapproval and mourning the loss of his mother, he makes a series of poor decisions which yielded horrendous consequences but he cannot be held responsible when compared to the monster whose behavior was a result of anger and malice.

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