Explore the Theme of Monstrosity in Frankenstein
Montrosity is a type in Frankenstein, and it impacts both the Animal and Victor, whilst at the exact same time, Shelley argues that society is monstrous through injustices of the time and the social conventions. Frankenstein could be said to be the monster himself- when he says “miserable monster” whom “I had actually created”, we see Shelley implicitly recommend, through the alliterative expression, that simply as “Adam was created in God’s image” so too was the Animal born in the image of Victor.
Additionally, the idea that Frankenstein is himself the beast is strengthened by “or rather cell”. “Cell” describes a prison cell, and is utilized symbolically to represent the idea that just like a cell is for lawbreakers, who perform acts of monstrousity, so to is Frankenstein the “criminal” dedicating an act of “monstrosity”. On the other hand, we might argue that it was not so much the act of development that was monstrous, but rather Frankenstein’s reaction.
By writing “I ran out of the space” we see Victor perform the supreme rejection, and for that reason, shunning the responsibilty that exists in the binary in between “Parent” and “Kid”- as John McRae argued.
It is fascinating to note that Frankenstein declines the monster since of an innate selfishness- “the appeal of the dream vanished” implies that Frankenstein’s physical conception does not equivalent that of his psychological conception, and that due to the fact that Frankenstein’s plan remain in disarray, his rational clinical methods- “I chose … in proportion” show this- are changed by psychological reactions; which for him, is territory unidentified- in the very same method Walton looks for to “determine the secrets” or how the Creature wishes to comprehend human behaviour at the De Lacy’s. Hence, we see a connection between Victor and the Creature- whom he describes as “miserbale beast”.
Furthermore, the fact that Frankenstein can only respond to the Creature’s birth in empirical, scientific observations- “pearly white teeth, dull eyes”- constrasts with Elizabeth’s response to William’s death- “O I have murdered my child”. By portraying Elizabeth in a positive light- she forms an emotional response, which juxtaposes with the sterile feelings of Frankenstein at the conception of the Creatue, Shelley implies that women present a greater degree of humanity- and thus criticises the male dominated society on education- whilst they may read “Shakespeare” and “Agrippa”, women will be worldly-wise, (no doubt influence by her feminist mother) and that they are necessary to prevent monstrosities.
This idea of the female role is reinforced by the fact that as the novel progresses, the women are slowly being removed- first his Mother, then Justine and then Elizabeth- “I saw Elizabeth…held the corpse of my dead mother”. This presents Frankenstein’s mental degregation and ultimately, the ctalyst for the mosntrous act- so Shelley presents the idea of a dichotomy between man and women- Darwin supported this by suggesting the hierachy of reproducion- man and woman is better than man alone. However, it could also be argued that Frankenstein’s settings augment his monstrousity- we see a sense of isolation- “solitude” is repeated, implying that by imposing self-exile, Frankenstein detaches himself from society and its rules and that he has become an “outsider” (McCrae)- much as the monstrousity that Victor calls the Creature, is also an outsider.
Indeed the connection between the two is best examined by the Shelley use of the mountain-top- “Chamonuix, where I saw him”- which alludes to the idea of the Creator and Creation meeting (Hayward), both as equal, with both, arguably as montrous, Victor for abondoning the Creature, and the Creature (for Victor) a representation fo his failure. By using “Solitude and “ Filthy Workshop of Creation”, Shelley implies that this isolation leads to thoughts of monstrousity- Godwin influecned her argiung it “was a nusery of madmen”. This separation from society is symbolic too. If Geneva is “Eden”, then by extending against the limits of knowledge-“if no man broke the rules” suggests no remorse- he cut himself off, much like Lucifer in Paradise Lost- and thus, Shelley implies that this inner monster within Frankenstein and all of us, can only be restrained by a balance- whether, male or female, or equal laws.
The idea that the monstrousity is within Frankenstein (and therefore us) is suggested by “wildness in his eyes”- he claims the Creature to be “wild”, but if the eyes are “windows to the sould”, Shelley suggests and innate montrosity in him (and us); an “id” that is the carnal desires. This contrasts the idea of the Monster’s “dull eyes”- which challenges the idea that the Creature is the monstrosity- this challenge is the reason why Shelley uses the Chinese Box Narrative- the various “narritve eyes” makes us formulate our own judgement. In fact, the Moster, may be the most human of us all- he “imitates the physiognamy and manners” in the same way that Justine did, yet both are treated unfairly.
This idea of an unfair treatment alludes to Shelley’s belief that monstorusity exists in society- so whilst we can say it was Victor’s nature to be monstorus (and that society placed limits to prevent this), the nurturing of him within society is what leads to the monstrosity arguably. In the case of the Justine, the irony is that she is treated “un-JUSTlY” contrary to her name- which perhaps could be Shelley’s sly reference to her desire for female eqaulity (influenced by Wollstencraft –the feminist motehr) – a name is afforded to all, and Justine’s name contain’s justice- therefore, when she “is found guilty”- there is a trangression of nature, in the same way that Frankenstein transgresses nature by creating life.
This presents the idea that society is too quick to judge- just as Frankenstein believes “seemingly to grab me”, Justine is quickly found guilty- regardless of Elizabeth’s plea- no wonder Shelley present s the law in such a negative light- “judge…meddle in the dark side of human nature”, because it is flawed and makes rash decisions. Thus, we see Shelley regard society as the monster. To conclude, monstrosity is pervades throughout the novel, affecting all characters and being influenced by setting and society. Yet, in the same way that the Creature was Frankenstein’s creation, the novel coould be seen as her monster-shunned by contempories but exposing the reatiy of monstrosity within us all.
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