January 10th, 2018
Review of Frankenstein – How the Creature and Victor Frankenstein are obsessed by Revenge
In the novel, Frankenstein, although Shelley, the author, explores various themes such as the detriment that man faces by meddling with nature, a predominant theme is the pursuit of revenge. The author brings out this theme through the protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, and the creature that Frankenstein created who seek to exert revenge against each other. The events in the novel are brought about through the narration of an explorer, R. Walton, to whom Frankenstein and the creature narrate their respective stories when his exploration takes him to the North Pole. Frankenstein life is full of intrigues that arise from his pursuit of scientific knowledge, which, however, leads to his detriment and subsequent occupation with revenge after the creature he developed murders his youngest brother, best friend and wife.
Frankenstein life starts in Geneva as the first child of Alphonse Frankenstein, a descendant of a respected family in Geneva, and Caroline, a daughter to Alphonse’s disgraced friend. Alphonse and Caroline later adopt Elizabeth Lavenza, who Frankenstein adores greatly, and, subsequently sire two other children – Ernest and William. While caring for Elizabeth on contacting a fatal fever, Caroline, Frankenstein’s mother, contacts the fever and succumbs to it a few days later; Elizabeth, on the other hand, survives. During this period, Frankenstein was planning to advance his studies, and had initially been fascinated by the works of philosophers such as Cornelius Agrippa and Albertus Magnus despite the casual remark by his father that the works of Agrippa were a “sad trash” (Shelley 34). On his father’s desire for Frankenstein to pursue further studies in a place that would offer an opportunity to be acquainted with customs different from those of his native country, Frankenstein joined the University of Ingolstadt soon after his mother’s death.
At Ingolstadt, Frankenstein is chided by M. Krempe, professor of natural philosophy, for espousing the outdated philosophies of Cornelius Agrippa, but his meeting with M. Waldman, professor of chemistry spurs his interest in risky experimentation. Waldman observes that while “the ancient teachers of [chemistry] promised impossibilities and performed nothing[,] the modern masters promise very little … [but] have indeed performed miracles” (Shelley 45-46). Inspired by such a statement, Frankenstein acquires interest in the methods of chemistry, which he contends will help him bring the impossibilities into miracles. In his pursuits, he gains interest in creating a being similar to humans, an endeavor that ultimately leads to the life of a creature that he immediately abhors and strives to stay away from. Such events set the scene for the revenge that subsequently obsesses the creature and Frankenstein.
Frankenstein leaves the creature in his laboratory in his apartment being unable to withstand its sight, but the creature escapes with some of Frankenstein’s clothes and notes he had penned when planning to create the creature. After a long stay in the forest, the creature learns some of human behavior such as cooking food. However, on its first interaction with humans, it faces rejection and is attacked by the villagers, an experience it narrates later to Frankenstein: “… the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons …” (Shelley 123). On the subsequent encounter with humans, the creature’s rejection was more poignant. Despite its cautious approach and request for friendship from a blind man’s family, staying hidden for months helping them by fetching firewood at night, on revealing itself, the man’s children are is frightened at the wretched creature, and the son throws it out in a violent fight that it strives not to engage in. Subsequently, the creature realizes that it was different from humans, and that humans would never accept him. Therefore, the creature loathes not only the day it was created, but also its creator whose information is in the notes the creature had escaped with from the laboratory. On one of the night roaming in the surrounding of Frankenstein’s Geneva home, the creature encounters William, whose relationship to Frankenstein it learns from William’s outburst that his father, M. Frankenstein will punish the creature if it does not let him leave. Learning of this, the creature murders William and, later, encountering Justine, one of William’s caregivers, hides evidence of William’s murder on Justine’s clothes while she temporary slept. Justine is later convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of William when the evidence is found on her clothes.
During the period between William’s and Justine’s deaths, Frankenstein had returned home from Ingolstadt and had subsequently become certain that the creature was involved in William’s murder after he had encountered it on his way back. Later, in an attempt to reprieve the torment he was experiencing after the death of William and Justine, Frankenstein decides to visit the Alpine valleys, a journey that leads to his face-to-face encounter with the creature. Although at first Frankenstein is quite angered by the creature, he is unable to hurt it since it elopes his attack whenever he tries. Instead, the creature is able to convince Frankenstein to listen to its story, which ultimately culminates into the creature’s demand that Frankenstein creates a counterpart to give the creature company and eliminate the loneliness it has experienced following the rejection by humans. In return, the creature would depart and leave Frankenstein’s family to enjoy peace. Frankenstein agrees due to the consequences that the creature promises to mete to his friends and family if he does not agree to the demand.
Although it takes time for Frankenstein to begin creating a companion for the creature due to lack of time to be alone, he is finally able to excuse himself from his friend Henry Clerval during their stay in England in a disguise of touring Scotland. However, when he starts developing the creature’s companion, the presence of the creature one day in his laboratory enlightens Frankenstein of the creature’s malice and treachery that it would likely not honor its word to stay away from Frankenstein’s friends and family even after getting the companion. Accordingly, he destroys the compatriot while the creature watches, making the creature depart vowing to avenge Frankenstein’s actions. Such revenge happens when the creature murders Frankenstein’s best friend, Henry, a crime for which Frankenstein is convicted temporarily; later, the creature murders Elizabeth after her marriage to Frankenstein. These actions anger Frankenstein and make him to vow to pursue the creature and destroy it so that it cannot create more harm. However, Frankenstein eventually succumbs to death at the hands of the creature, which also commits suicide after recounting its story to R. Walton, the explorer.
Although Shelley explores various themes in her novel, Frankenstein, a predominant theme is that of revenge, as advanced through the protagonist, Frankenstein, and the creature that Frankenstein develops in his scientific pursuit. The creature commits to revenge against its creator after rejection by humans and Frankenstein’s refusal to create its companion. Frankenstein commits to avenge the murder of his family members and friend by the creature by destroying it to avoid it from further murders. Ultimately, however, the creature murders Frankenstein but is overwhelmed by remorse over its acts and thus decides to commit suicide.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. London: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, 1818. Web. 19 April 2013 <http://www.planetebook.com/ebooks/Frankenstein.pdf>.