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Vol. 2 a mature monster

December 1, 2014

Is it my imagination, or does the creature’s tale show a more reasonable character than Victor Frankenstein’s character?  The wretched creature seems more balanced, at least in the early part of his tale.  For example, he patiently and compassionately asks Victor to listen to his story before he judges.  Is it my imagination?

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26 Comments
  1. I agree with your statement. In the beginning of his story, the creature seemed more observant and curious about this world. The specific details he provided in the description of the towns people who lived in the cottages demonstrates his passion and fascination with man. However, eventually I think that the creature and Victor share the characteristic of being miserable. For example, when Victor gets ready to take a walk on the mountain he says, “I rose early, but felt unusually melancholy. The rain depressed me; my old feelings re-curred, and I was miserable”(70). Victor is feeling miserable out of guilt because he blames himself for the death of William. He hols himself responsible because he is the creator of William’s murder. Whereas, the creature feels miserable because he is alone and despised by all man. For example, towards the end of his story, he says, “…:but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures,who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me”(73). The creature is miserable because he is the only one of his kind and has not experienced kindness from man. Eventually, he turns his misery into vengeance. In some way, I think that the creature is more compassionate and patient than Victor. Ultimately, Victor and the creature both experience misery.

    • Indeed they do. And your final suggestion intrigues me–that in some way (ways?) the creature is more compassionate than his creator. I’ll have to consider that comparison further. Thank you.

  2. So I think that you’re observation is very insightful, and I’m not one to say it’s wrong, but I don’t think it’s completely accurate. Ultimately I feel as if from one or two views, the monster may be seen as reasonable, but as a whole, I think he’s as unreasonable as any human can be. I think because the monster is new to the world, and for a time couldn’t understand the human language, he had no reason to be unreasonable. This is also the reason the monster is very compassionate. He has no preconceived notions on how and why to judge other beings. However, once he began understanding how humans speak and interact with each other, the monster becomes more human. This causes the monster to realize his power, and with no mentors to teach him how to control it, he sets off on a murderous fury against the human race. An example: “We may not part until you have promised to comply with my requisition…This being you must create” (p. 110). Now I’m not saying he’s unreasonable, but he’s not giving Victor many choices. I will give the monster credit though, because he is smart enough to give reason why he needs a companion. I feel, however, that because the monster is so smart and powerful, a companion is only the start of what could be the end of humanity (the two monsters have kids, those kids have kids, etc…before you know it there’s an entire society of super smart monsters who hate humans).

    • A diplomatic and thoughtful response to my post. Thank you for the gradations in your thinking. Good point about the importance of mentors. As he learns how humans behave, he is liable to misuse the lessons without proper guidance. On its face, the picture of human behavior that he witnesses gives him more grief than gratitude. He sees joyful moments, but only from a distance.

  3. Although I can see from Alexandria’s point of view, I believe that the monster and Victor differ in that the monster keeps a more balanced look on life than Victor. Victor continues to stay melancholy, while the monster quickly learns aspects of society and human interactions. Like your statement, I believe that the monster has a more reasonable character than Victor, because he learns and closely watches the human behavior of the people in the cottage. The monster realizes that he causes despair for Felix and later tries to fix this problem by leaving firewood at the cottage door. Again, the monster tries to do good by attempting to save the drowning girl from the river, only to be shot because of his appearance. Lastly, the monster shows politeness and patience when asking for a female companion, “What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate;I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself: the gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive, and it shall content me”(112).

    • Intriguing array of respectable responses on the part of the creature. Would that we all could call on our inner creature, if these aspects are the standard.

  4. Chris Cotton permalink

    I’d like to respectively disagree to your statement. I understand your observation, it could be inferred that the creature is more reasonable than Victor, but in the beginning the creature is only a body. A body that contains no knowledge, no intelligence, and has only merely made contact with a human being. This “creature” has no idea how to act, but once it finally begins to learn and make its own decisions, it breaks into a reign of terror, stopping for no human, not even a child. I agree with Alexandria, both Victor and the creature suffer from being miserable and a deep sense of loneliness. The creature longs for a female creature like himself and Victor longs for Elizabeth. Victor is only acting as a normal human would; he has faced a tremendous amount of stress. Vector has studied and worked hard for many years and his actions resulted in two deaths within his family. For most people, this would lead to an off balanced life and a drive for forgiveness within himself. Therefore, I can understand why Victor has this unbalance in his life. In the case of the creature, it is simply a chaotic nightmare. This beast has finally learned how to interact with society and then makes one attempt before fleeing. The creature is destined to have revenge and quickly kills William and frames Caroline. Your example demonstrates the creatures reason for not judging, but you could also look at Victor being reasonable for actually listening to the monster, even though it is responsible for the death of William and Caroline. Victor even consents to the idea of creating a mate for this murderer. To demonstrate the way the creature felt, “My daily vows rose for revenge–a deep and deadly revenge, such as would alone compensate for the outrages and anguish I had endured.” (108) I don’t believe you can make the argument that the wretched creature was ever more reasonable then Victor. Although you argue that the creature is more reasonable in the beginning, it is simply because he has no actual contact with humans. He is a sitting bomb and with only a small touch he exploded into a chaotic rage. The creature doesn’t even realize it’s a creature for a while, “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers–their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool!” (84-5) As the monster gains knowledge and begins to understand what he is he slowly becomes more and more unreasonable. I think that the argument is simply invalid because he has absolutely no knowledge, not even an understanding of what he is.

    • Many valuable thoughts in this post. Thank you. I especially like the phrase “a sitting bomb”–for all of its allusions to future creations like the atomic bomb. I am also intrigued by your idea that “only a small touch” caused him to explode. What is in that touch, and what makes him so ready to explode?

  5. Elizabeth Kendrick permalink

    While reading through this volume I thought the exact same thing, that the monster was a surprisingly mature individual. The first mature characteristic that the monster possesses is patience. The monster is patient enough to sit outside of a cabin listening to people’s conversations just so that he can understand their language. This required a lot of time and effort in order to pick up on each word and also the action/emotion involved with that word; “I distinguished several other words, without being able as yet to understand or apply them; such as good, dearest, unhappy” (83). The next mature quality that I saw in the monster was thinking outside of the box, this quality he shares with Victor. As the monster learns about life through the cottage family he begins to see what the meaning of life is and how normal people’s lives work. One would normally think of a monster as being mean and cruel however, this monster considers really tough life questions about how he was created and why he didn’t have a father or a mother; “But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing. What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans” (91). After reading this I honestly was extremely impressed with the monsters level of intellect considering that his entire education has come from a small family living in the woods. These thoughts show that the monster is mature because he has come to realize that he is different, something people don’t fully understand until they are at least 10 years old. He is also starting to understand the fact that he is living an extremely sad life without any family or friends, which presents his feelings and emotions, also a mature quality. The final mature quality that I saw in this volume was that the monster didn’t blame Victor for making him hideous and unappealing. Instead he asks Victor to create another monster so that he will have a friend. “My companion must be out of the same species, and have the same defects. This being you must create” (110). To me this was the most mature thing the monster has done throughout the novel because he didn’t kill Victor for making him this way, instead he just wants to have another being like himself so that he can have someone who understands what he is going through. All of these characteristics prove that the monster is arguably a more reasonable character than Victor Frankenstein just because of how mature he is. However, it is also hard to compare the two characters, even though they both have experienced a great amount of sorrow and hurt, because Victor lost his mother who he loved dearly and the monster never had a mother to love and lose like Victor did. Therefore, I believe the monster is much more mature when handling sad situations because he doesn’t get angry, he simply learns from it and focuses on what he can do to fix it. This varies from Victor who takes a sad situation, like his mother dying, and isolates himself away from all humans in order to create, what he thought, was a horrific monster.

    • Someone who understands, indeed. The creature goes right to the heart of the matter, to the heart of what it means to be human. And you do an impressive job of citing several signs of the monster’s relative maturity. Well-done, and thank you.

  6. Allie Creekmuir permalink

    Both the monster and Victor Frankenstein are miserable but for different reasons. The monster is miserable because he is lonely, but Frankenstein is miserable because of the creation of the monster and the damage that the monster has caused. Frankenstein believes that the only way to cure his feeling is to get revenge on the monster and make him pay for the pain he has caused his family. When Victor is talking to Elizabeth about the execution of Justine, Elizabeth tells Victor that he has “an expression of despair, and sometimes of revenge” due to the fact that he believes Justine was not the true killer (67). I believe that the monster seems more mature at this point in his story because of the nature of his miserable feeling. He is lonely and despised by all of mankind and not even the man that created him appreciate his existence. There is no other being similar to him and he feels like a needle in a hay stack, unwanted and lost in a place where there is nothing like it.

    • Indeed, the creature does feel this way. I like your pointing out Victor’s impulse for revenge. What strikes me most is his reaction of revenge, when he encounters destruction of his own making. Maybe his attacking the creature, therefore, is a way in which he Victor attacks himself, or a part of himself?

  7. Michael permalink

    I agree with this statement that the creature expresses a more mature and thoughtful demeanor than that of Victor Frankenstein. For example when Victor realizes that the creature is rapidly approaching him on the mountains Victor cries out: “Devil! … Begone, vile insect! or rather stay, that I may trample you to dust” (72). Victor is throwing a tantrum like that of a child, insulting the creature. The creature in turn calmly responds: “I expected this reception, … Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace” (72). The creature is offering Victor and all of mankind peace if Victor simply hears the creature out and comes to an agreement. Victor however decides to continue his tantrum and refuse the creature. Through this interaction Victor acts like a stubborn child while the creature comes across as a mature, logical being.

    • “Tantrum” is a suitable term from this passage. I like the way you extend the analogy by describing Victor’s behavior as childish. Although the creature was “born” into this world more recently than Victor, his creator is the one who seems more like a child.

  8. It is a very interesting idea to consider, given the fact that most humans would immediately assume that they are more compassionate and balanced than that of a creature that was created by man. However, Frankenstein’s creature seems as if he has more patience and a greater sense of self-worth compared to Frankenstein himself. The creature says, “Be calm! I entreat you to hear me, before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery?” (72). The creature goes on to say how he cherishes his life, even though he believes life to be a series of anguished events. Although both Victor and the creature suffer misery in their lives, the creature seems to be the only one who can maintain a positive outlook on life. I believe that this is an example of one of my opinions from volume 1 because this is a sign of a lack of maturity in Victor. Although he is a grown adult, he lacks the ability to put aside specific feelings in order to have a more positive outlook on his own life, which leads me to conclude again that he isn’t as mature as he believes he is. The creature, on the other hand, shows a great deal of maturity when he attempts to listen before judging and when he claims how much he loves his life, even though most of human-kind fear and hate him.

    • Well-developed comparison of these two. And you have picked a fine passage to show these differences. Before the creature is transformed by mistreatment, he shows several laudable traits.

  9. I noticed as well that the creature seemed more reasonable than Victor at first. I think this is because of Victor’s obsession with appearance. He let his vanity cloud his judgment and as a result, rashly assumed that his creature was despicable and guilty of his brother’s murder. Victor’s consumption with beauty and contempt for ugliness not only plagued his judgment, but also hindered him from appreciating the simple blessings in life. When his surroundings where ugly, “the rain depressed [him]”, and when his surroundings were beautiful “the sight of the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnizing [his mind]” (page 70).Whereas, his creature, at first, could appreciate life for what it is because he did not know “ugliness”. “I saw no cause for their unhappiness; but I was deeply affected by it. If such lovely creatures were miserable, it was less strange that I, an imperfect and solitary being, should be wretched” (page 80). However, the more he became aware that he was a monster, and that he was ugly, the more unreasonable he became like Victor. I think Shelley is trying to make a statement that preconceived notions on what “perfection” or life should be prevents us from enjoying life for what it is.

    • Yes, I agree. Plus Shelley suggests that sometimes, if we are not careful or aware, we can start to become other people’s images of us. The more the creature absorbed his “monster” status, he responded accordingly. Also, Shelley is participating in a common feature of the culture of her time and place–namely that nature reflects us and vice versa. Art of the time often presented humans and the surrounding environment as mutually sympathetic.

  10. Aaliyah permalink

    I agree with you about Frankenstein being less mature. Over time we see through the monsters story that he began to learn on his own. Both Frankenstein and the monster were going through tough times, but the way Victor handled it was by seclusion and moping. The monster however, who knew nothing of the world he brought into began studying human behavior and attempting to learn how to assimilate in an attempt to make the best of his situation. In his story he said, “ I had saved a human being from destruction”. This shows his attempts to help a race even though humans have wronged him in the past. The Reader is able to see the growth in the monster, which has been on his own and rejected his whole life. I feel sorry for the monster more so than Victor because Victor hasn’t really even tried to help his situation, he’s avoided it.

    • Astute observations. I like your recognition that the creature wants to join the humans rather than separate from them. Any separation he experiences hurts him, as it would most people. He wants to build rather than destroy things, at least in the early parts of his existence.

  11. Joanna Wright permalink

    I agree with Mr. Brown’s claim to the monster’s early character being compassionate. The creature is not a monster to the world but a victim of cruelty from humans. Comparing the creature to Victor, I see distinct differences between the two personalities. These differences display to me that the creature has a more docile and balanced nature at the beginning of his life. For example, when the monster is stealing food from the cottagers and than realizes that they are suffering from poverty partly due to the creatures thefts he feels guilty and says, “A considerable period elapsed before I discovered one of the causes of uneasiness of this amiable family; it was poverty: and they suffered that evil in a very distressing degree”(82). After realizing that the family is struggling, the monster begins doing deeds of kindness for the family, such as collecting firewood for them and placing it at their door. This displays that the monster has a genuine kind nature almost of that of an innocent child. However, after the monsters several unsuccessful interactions with humans he becomes filled with self-hatred of himself. Similarly to what Alexandria said, I think this characteristic of self-hatred or a life of feeling miserable runs through both the creature and Victor. Victor hates himself because of what he created and for how his creation has affected his family, and the monster hates himself because of his appearance, his inability for humans to accept him, and for his murders. It is ironic to me how Victor a person who is consumed with impatience and himself created a creature who is patient, loving, and cares for others in the beginning of his life.

    • IN the beginning of his (the creature’s) life–yes. That’s a helpful distinction about the stages of the creature’s life. He does seem child-like in his innocent kindness. That generous nature continues, until he meets selfish treatment from others. You have highlighted the social philosophy that underpins the novel. People develop, at least in part, according to his others treat them.

  12. Ben Myer permalink

    I do not believe, yet, that the monster is a more “reasonable character than Victor Frankenstein. The monster is a very curious and thoughtful character but lacks the necessary attributes to survive among humans and interact normally to their reactions of him. “When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? (105)” The monster, I believe, will face issues with emotion and self-acceptance that will eventually turn him to a more monstrous character. This leads me to believe that Victor is a more reasonable character, however, the monster has shown many reasonable characteristics throughout his tales.

    • Valid and valuable distinctions, especially about the stages of the creature’s evolution. At the same time, I wonder if the issues with emotion and self-acceptance don’t also arise with Victor.

  13. Hannah permalink

    I agree with your statement that in the beginning of the volume the creature shows more maturity than Victor, but I would say even more than him demonstrating maturity he shows a very sensitive and thoughtful side to himself. He also seems to be very self conscious about how he looks which I think he shares in common with Victor in that they both struggle with their own personal insecurities which I wouldn’t say makes him less mature I think it just shows something both characters whether they realize it or not share in common. It is quite sad to see the monster begin to realize how ugly he is “Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted upon me: I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with knowledge.” (90) So i think to a revision to your comment made above it is more about how they are handling and struggling with their own unique insecurities rather than their levels of maturity. For Victor it is how to cope with what he has created and dealing with the aftermath of his choices. For the creature he also is dealing with insecurities but more physical ones like how to accept the fact when people seem him they only look at the surface and the ugly appearance and can’t look beyond anything more. I’m not so sure either of them have really reached an acceptable maturity level, but they are just trying to cope and accept who they are and what they’ve done.

    • Something they share, whether or not either one of them realizes the commonality. This idea of yours goes to the heart of the story, I believe. As the novel proceeds, as it propels characters and readers towards the end, the two “men” resemble each other more and more. They cannot escape each other, try as they might. Thank you for crystalizing this interpretation for us. Also, I appreciate your specific focus on their individual struggles with insecurity. No wonder this novel has resonated with readers over time. The page 90 passage uses the verb “agony,” which comes from the Greek word for struggle–agon. Clearly the struggle of these two characters is one most of us know.

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