The Real Monster in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
- Date:Jul 22, 2019
One of the best works of literature, which holds much relevance in the contemporary society, is Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein.’ It tells the saga of an eccentric and ambition driven scientist, Victor, who one day creates a monster in order to prove that he has discovered the ultimate secret, how to create life, or in other words, how to become god. Although Victor wants to create a being, he ends up creating a monster whose very sight horrifies him and he runs away abandoning the monster. Although Victor realizes his mistake in actually trying to cerate life, despite being given various opportunities throughout the story to right his wrongs, he neither takes responsibility nor the actions. Therefore, on careful analysis of the story, one can see that the real monster is Victor, the scientist himself, and not Frankenstein.
A monster is a being, which basically threatens the existence of human beings or society as a whole, and only has the intention of causing harm to people. A monster is cruel, never feels remorse or guilt for committing any cruel acts and, furthermore, works towards breaking the law of nature or the law of god. Moreover, Frankenstein himself says that monsters are beings who are supposed to be “cut off from all the world,” thus this adds another characteristic to the nature of a true monster, which is isolation (Shelley 77). With respect to the aforementioned attributes of a monster, as the story evidences, one can understand that the real monster is Victor and not his creation.
Firstly, although the doctor’s wish to “bestow animation upon lifeless matter” in order to “renew life where death” dooms the “body to corruption,” seems quite harmless, it is actually a medium through which he wants to achieve fame as well as immortality (89). However, attainment of fame and his wish that “his name makes a mark in history” are desires harbored by most humans, and this alone is not enough to deem Victor a monster (Marklund 4). Nonetheless his deeds throughout the story represent his intrinsic nature, which is that of a monster. For instance, when Frankenstein approaches him in the mountains and asks him to create a companion for him, although the doctor denies at first, he later on agrees to the request. However, while creating the female monster, he realizes that it would just be another mistake, and thus he abandons the process. Here Victor not only gives false hope to Frankenstein, but by discarding the project he actually enrages his creation, forcing him to commit more murders.
Furthermore, when Frankenstein kills Victor’s beloved, whom the doctor had been quite fond of since his “earliest infancy,” Victor’s mind immediately seeks to exact vengeance on Frankenstein (92). The doctor does not wait to think that it was actually him who was responsible for all this, and he sets out to eliminate what he once created. Lastly, Victor never tries to make Frankenstein understand the value of life as well as the morals of society, and he never actually explains why he abandons the project of creating a female monster. Therefore, it can be thus concluded that the real monster is Victor, and this is exemplified through his thoughts, his deeds, and most importantly his lack of action as well as negligence of responsibility.
Nevertheless, some may contend that Frankenstein is the monster, as he wreaks havoc in the society by committing various murders, and most importantly, taking away the most important thing to Victor, his beloved, Elizabeth. However, it is to be noted that all these murders ensued as a result of Victor’s actions and his attitude towards the monster. A monster never feels remorse or guilt at the cruelty he exacts, however, Frankenstein feels great sorrow in the end when Victor is dead and furthermore, he goes off to the northern highlands in order to end his life. Thus, this reflects on the humane characteristics possessed by Frankenstein. Furthermore, had Victor been in place of Frankenstein he would have not felt the slightest bit of grief for the other’s passing away, let alone going away to kill himself. Therefore, it becomes clear that the real monster is the doctor, Victor, and that despite being a monster Frankenstein was a better ‘human’ than the former.
Marklund, Sara. Good and Evil in Man: The Double Nature of Victor in Frankenstein. Goteborg University. 2010. Web. 09 Mar, 2014. Available at:
Shelley, Mary W. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. London. 1823. Print.