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Who Is the Monster, or Who Are the Monsters, in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a good representation of human evils in literature. The main question concerned is who should be considered a monster: creative insane scientists or people around us. It is difficult to emphasize black and white characters because the situation differs from the classical villain-hero scenario. Each character shows both positive and negative sides of his personality and role in the whole story. These difficulties related to Shelley’s image of each character that includes conflict between appearance and actions. Frankenstein’s monster, whose appearance is a classic representation of the beast, shows signs of humanity and consciousness, which confuses readers. On the other hand, humans represented in the book do not reflect humanity toward someone different. Moreover, the novel triggers the theme of the discrepancy between a creator and a creation. The actions and desires of both sides prove these contradictions. Considering the characters’ motivation, background, and decisions, the “monsters” of the story are the main characters, including Victor Frankenstein, his creation, and local society.

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Frankenstein’s monster was a monster by the fact of creation and its function. Victor Frankenstein decided to take this creature to life due to a traumatic experience related to his mother’s death. He was highly obsessed with the idea of finding a way to revive the dead to avoid demise. The monster was a result of his experiments toward this unrealistic idea. In the beginning, the creation was recognized as a monster due to its enormous size and physical strength, along with the lack of any intellect. However, the situation changed when the cognitive and intellectual skills of the monster started to develop. Here, the story faces a dilemma related to the status of Frankenstein’s creation. Previously, the monster was considered a brainless creature dangerous to society because of the lack of control. After the intellectual transformation of the monster, signs of emotions appeared, and intellect confuses the course of action. In these terms, we frequently observe the monster as a victim of a cruel society that tried to hurt it every time it attempted to obtain a connection.

Its attempts to study and make friends provide the view of a misunderstood and physically different creature. Despite that, its actions still correspond to the monster’s behavior. For example, the fact that the beast murdered half of Victor Frankenstein’s family members shows that even intelligence is present, it does not make you a human. In addition, it revealed that the beast had the motives to revenge on its creator cause Victor Frankenstein refused to design the female version of the monster. From the book, we could see that decision to take revenge was utterly voluntary and self-motivated. Probably, in some cases, the actions of the beast could be recognized as self-defense and response to the attack. Nevertheless, the monster chose what to do and how to do it in other situations. For example, when the monster killed the boy after knowing that Frankenstein’s child illustrates that even mindful, it is still a monster.

Victor Frankenstein’s image represents the “bad” person of the whole story. His character at this point is a bit controversial because of his understanding of the current situation. He recognizes himself as the monster because of the fruit of his experiment. Shelley (2015) represent Victor’s vision of himself as the following:

“ At first, I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification (p 57). “

The central conflict related to Victor Frankenstein’s situation is to improve the situation by destroying his creation, his invention. He feels highly guilty for creating a monster and his inability to control his creation. He ideally acknowledges that the monster murdered many people. Victor mentions several times that “I was deceived by no vision and that Clerval, my friend and dearest companion, had fallen victim to me and the monster of my creation” (Shelley, 2015, p 70). In scientific view, his monster was a unique breakthrough and the fruit of the long work. However, as mentioned by Shelley (2015), the danger posed by the monster made Frankenstein decide another path which says, “I created you, so, I will destroy you.”

Victor Frankenstein’s character is controversial because of his motivation and attitude toward the monster. He was simultaneously horrified and delighted by his creation combined with the old body parts. Relationships between creation and creator are toxic because they attempt to hurt each other. The monster shares emotions and feeling with its creator, tells how people pointed out its terrible appearance (Shelley, 2015). Frankenstein, in reply, uses knowledge about his creation to manipulate and betray. However, the monster’s response is considered aggressive and usually ends with murder. This situation reminds toxic interaction between children and parents. The child, who is not responsible for his creation, suffers from abuse due to physical and mental differences. The parent, who takes to life the child, understands the unique features of his child; however, instead of support and help, he manipulates and betrays. The child, in contrast, starts to blame his parents and try to take revenge. The image of Frankenstein and his monster is a good representation of problematic child-parent relationships.

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Monsterhood of the creation is defined not only by his appearance and behavior but also its name. To be exact, the absence of the name of Victor Frankenstein’s creation is a factor that highlights its dehumanization. Shelley (2015) never mentions the name of the monster, giving the view that even the beast is capable of emotions and analysis like a human, it is not. The lack of identity creates mystical creatures as well as fear of the unknown among other people. The ordinary population’s role was to highlight how humankind turns into the monster meeting, someone unlike them. Frankenstein’s monster was dangerous, but in proper approach could be accepted by society.

To conclude, the representation of the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein varies from the classical view. Here, it is vital to understand that the monster is also a victim. There are no moral excuses for its actions and desire for revenge. However, outside of his plans to avenge and destroy, the beast could be sympathetic for the reader. On the other hand, Victor Frankenstein reveals all the opposing sides of a human being. The unacceptance of someone who does not look or think alike, discrimination because of appearance, and fear of the unknown are perfectly illustrated during the whole story. In addition, the critical parallel that shows the conflict between child and parent is present.


Shelley, M. W. (2015). Frankenstein. CreateSpace.

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