The Issue Of False Judgments in Mary Shelley’s Book “Frankenstein”
When it comes to society, labeling and judging an individual based on their appearance causes them to feel socially isolated from the world, impacting their lives in a negative way. Society today holds many expectations that revolve around beauty and having excellent qualities as a human being. In Mary Shelley’s book, “Frankenstein”, the monster created by Victor Frankenstein is wrongly judged based on his “ugly” features and is labeled as a horrifying and violent creature that doesn’t belong in their village. Society rejects the monster in Frankenstein because no beauty is found within him which triggers the monster’s anger and loneliness. The monster turns to violence as the only way to get attention from society and his creator, making them understand that he is not this hideous threatening monster they portray him as, but a creature who is empathetic and loving. Even though the monster allows his anger and isolation to lead him into murdering the loved ones of his creator, society plays a great role in causing him to commit such evil acts through themes of abandonment, isolation, lost innocence, revenge, judgments, and the expectations of beauty in society.
The evilness of the monster is first created when Mary Shelley presents a gloomy frightful setting where a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, accomplishes his goal by bringing the dead back to life. When Victor encounters his creation, he is completely disgusted and disappointed with its “hideous” appearance. Terrified, Victor runs away from his creation, causing the monster to roam through the village all alone, not knowing who he is, and left to be shunned by society. Through all of the villages judgments, in chapter 15 the monster exclaims, “They are kind… the most excellent creatures in the world: but, unfortunately, they are prejudiced against me…a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes…they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold a detestable monster”. When the monster starts to engage with people, he begins to see that he is not wanted in their village and is feared upon based on his appearance. The people of the village are blinded by the monster’s hideous features and do not see the good qualities that he holds. The monster’s broken relationship with his creator, Victor, and his disgust to society sets himself up for self-destruction and violent acts.
The self-destruction of the monster that leads him to violence and murder is caused by the abandonment from society and Victor Frankenstein. In the book, we see abandonment first in chapter 5 when Victor creates the monster that is viewed as ugly and hideous to him, and abandons his creation, only because of the monsters ugly features that he expected to be beautiful. Victor views his experiment as a failure and wants nothing to do with it as he states “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of my room”. Failure to have beauty in his experiment causes him to abandon his creation in disgust and hopes it will all go away. When Victor chooses to leave his creation, he goes out of town to spend time with his friends and acts as if nothing happened. When he returns home, he sees no sign of his creation and cheerfully insists he is freed from this horror. While Victor is being nursed back into society by his close friend Clerval, the monster has been roaming the village for two months now. The monster begins to learn where he stands in society, labeled as an abandoned creature who is rejected from all humankind which triggers his anger and hate towards Victor Frankenstein.
Another theme presented in Frankenstein is the monster’s social isolation from society which triggers his anger, hatred, and evil intentions towards Victor. In chapter 6, Victor frees and isolates himself from his experiment and all his stress by traveling around Germany admiring nature, while his creation is still roaming and being isolated from relationships, society, and love as a human. In chapter 15, isolation from the world allows the monster to conclude, “I am an unfortunate and deserted creature…I have no relation or friend upon earth…people to whom I go have never seen me, and know little of me. I am full of fears…I am an outcast in the world forever”. The isolation the monster has been experiencing from society has clearly made him feel lonely and unwanted. The monster’s outcast of the world has made him very upset and angry, especially knowing that he is being judged by people who do not know him or the kindness that he holds. Society is making Victor’s creation feel like a monster since he looks like one, even though he doesn’t act like one. When an innocent human is isolated from society and depicted as a monster, anger and revenge is created, where the monster begins to seek revenge in murder to gain attention from Victor and those who despised him.
Victor Frankenstein’s abandonment of the monster he created and the monster’s isolation of the world has led to the next theme of revenge. In Chapter 9, both Victor and the monster isolate themselves in Belrive only to escape from the bad memories, but also to seek revenge against each other. The monster resorts to violence by murdering Victor’s loved ones as revenge for his abandonment and absence of love and care. Victor searches for the monster and wants revenger for the deaths of his loved ones. When Victor and monster come face to face with each other in chapter 10, the monster demands, “If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with blood of your remaining friends”. The monster wants the love and companionship from Victor since he created him, but if he does not give the monster what he’s been wanting, then his loved ones will continue to be murdered. By resorting to murder, the monster wants to get the attention he’s been wanting from Victor and begins to understand his strengths to kill everything Victor loves in order to get what he wants. Revenge caused by Victor’s disgust and abandonment with his creation and society’s views of it, has pushed the monster to commit evil crimes as the only way to get what he wants.
Although the monster has portrayed himself as an innocent, kind, and empathetic creature but seeks revenge and resorts to murder, we begin to see a theme of lost innocence caused by society. The theme of lost innocence takes place when the monster admits that he turned to violence as revenge to Victor leaving him in a world full of hatred and disgust. Based on the monster’s experiences with society, in chapter 14 he describes, “Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a end. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous”. The monster was once a kind and loving creature, but his exclusion from society has turned him evil and all that he wants now is for Victor to listen to his story and give him happiness. The monster wants Victor to see his view on how he wasn’t a terrifying monster at first, until Victor’s act of shame and abandonment caused him to commit terrible crimes.
Society, including Victor, attacks and judges the monster because he doesn’t look the way they want or expect him to look like. Clearly, it isn’t the monster’s fault for the way he looks because besides his “hideous features”, he does not hold the evil characteristics of a monster, but the good characteristics as a kind human. Having life on earth, the monster is also evolving as everyone else, but when he receives hate as a unwanted creature from the people around him, his kindness is tested and his innocence is lost. In chapter 8, Justine also gives up her innocence by confessing a lie to a crime she did not commit and accepts that she is ready to be executed to leave behind a bitter world that she sees as not so innocent either. Society shouldn’t hold any account of being perfect and innocent when it is their fault that murders are happening and evil acts are being influenced by innocent people like the monster and Justine.
Society’s judgments are mainly based on looks and what good qualities we may inherent. As sad as it is, looks really do matter in our world where certain expectations must be met in order to be accepted by society. In Frankenstein’s case, the monster has no hope in being accepted by society because of his viscous looks. In the article “Frankenstein’s Impact: Lessons for the Modern World”, the author Francesca Baker explains how the relationship of Victor and the monster resembles the relationship of a parent and their child. Since Victor does the complete opposite of caring for his creation, he judges him instead, based on his creatures appearance just as everyone else does. Baker sets her next point that appearances do matter in society and how our society chooses to accept another. When it comes to the hideous features of the creature versus societies expectations, the article argues, “This link between the Creature’s ugliness and inner evil reflect an uncomfortable truth- people constantly judge one another based on appearance”. The way that the society in Frankenstein absorbs most of the hideous appearance of the creature, and not for who he truly is reveals the truth of how our society today still continues to constantly judge someone based on appearance.
Many judgments and shame of an individual can lead them to murder as an only way seek for attention or to be heard correctly. In the article, “Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ is a Cautionary Tale on the Monstrosity of which Humans are Capable” Stephanie Allen introduces a poem called ‘The Tables Turned’ which reads, “Sweet is the lore, which nature brings, our meddling intellect, misshapes the beauteous forms of things, we murder to dissect”. Stephanie Allen analyzes the excerpt from the poem as an idea in how science has contributed to the violence against nature. Frankenstein and the monster both commit violence through science and bringing the dead back to life that turned into a hideous creation that society fears because it is ugly. Since the beautiness of life has been messed with, the monster created is left with disappointment and chooses to murder in order for others to understand his misery and what he really wants in life.
When an individual appears beautiful, societies automatic judgment is that they have good qualities, but when an individual appears ugly, they will automatically be judged as a person who has ugly characteristics. If an individual looks viscous, they will be thought of to act cruel and vicious also. In the journal, “It is the Cooperation, Stupid!” the author Somesh Gupta examines, “Research has shown that attractive people are judged as being more trustworthy as compared to not so attractive ones. Beautiful people are inherently at an advantageous position due to their attractive traits”. The more attractive you are, the more you are accepted by society and have advantages having love, care, shelter, and relations with others. In Frankenstein’s case, the monster has no advantages of receiving love and acceptance from everyone around him because he does not appear attractive as a normal human, only as a hideous creature. As soon as society encountered the monster in Frankenstein, he was feared upon and was not trusted in their village. Society depicted the monster as a viscous an destructive monster, making the monster himself believe it by committing the crimes the way a viscous monster would do.
When the monster encounters loneliness and isolation from the world, he became vulnerable and sensitive to others leading him to act in a negative way for his desperation for attention. In the article, “How Social Isolation is Killing Us” Dhruv Khullar argues, “loneliness can be contagious: when one person becomes lonely, he withdraws from his social circle and causes others to do the same”. Khullar’s point of loneliness being contagious relates to the monster in Frankenstein and how he seeks revenge in killing everyone Victor loves so that he turns to Victor as the only person that he can share love with instead of being lonely. In Khullar’s research, he also explains how loneliness can increase the mental and emotional consequences within an individual. In Frankenstein, the monsters loneliness leads him to the emotional consequences of murdering and filling in the image that society portrayed him as. Although the monster was once good, society’s isolation lead him to commit to murders in order for Victor to feel the monster’s pain and suffering in hopes he would understand why he is the way he is.
Despite the monster’s hideous appearance, societies rejection, and Victor’s abandonment, all the monster wanted was a companion; someone to love on his own. The monster figured that if he knew that he didn’t belong in society, love would be able to make everything feel better. In chapter 10, the monster tries to explain to Victor, “Thus I take from thee sight which you abhor. Still thou canst listen to me and grant me thy compassion. By the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you”. Being understood and wanted by someone who brought life to the dead for a reason is what the monster desired the most from his creator. He wants Victor to understand that he is not what he looks like, and wants compassion for all the misery Victor has put him through. The monster begs Victor, “Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am i not alone, miserable alone? You, my creator, abhor me”. The hate and disgust that the monster feels from his creator has filled him with guilt of murder, but only did so to gain attention. There was no other way to make Victor see that he is as guilty as the monster by taking away a love and being left in a world all alone with nobody to love. Victor must take responsibility of the crimes that the monster committed since he brought him to life. Now, Victor must suffer through the pain and misery of having everything he loved, destroyed.
Society was the main reason to what made the monster turn to violence because of isolation, abandonment, social expectations, and false judgments. A poor innocent creature who only wished to exchange love and kindness with someone was wrongfully rejected by a society who provokes evil within others. In my opinion, I believe if Victor took responsibility and cared for the monster as his child and also society giving him a chance to show who he is, the monster would not have resorted to evil acts by murdering. I feel that society’s set image of the monster being viscous pushed him to believe he was that monster they portrayed him as and proved their point by making him suffer through their judgments. The overall message in Frankenstein is to not judge someone based on appearance because when an individual is socially isolated and left alone, negative consequences can occur that no one should ever have to suffer through.
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