Robert Walton, an English adventurer, undertakes an expedition to the North Pole. While on this expedition (which has been a lifelong dream of his), Walton corresponds with his sister by letter. Amid the ice floes, Walton and his crew find an extremely weary man traveling by dogsled. The man is near death, and they determine to take him aboard. Once the mysterious traveler has somewhat recovered from his weakness, Robert Walton begins to talk to him. The two strike up a friendship (Walton is very lonely and has long desired a close companion). The man is desolate, and for a long while will not talk about why he is traversing the Arctic alone. After becoming more comfortable with Walton, he decides to tell him his long-concealed story.
The speaker is Victor Frankenstein, for whom the book is named. He will be the narrator for the bulk of the novel. Born into a wealthy Swiss family, Victor enjoyed an idyllic, peaceful childhood. His parents were kind, marvelous people; they are presented as shining examples of the goodness of the human spirit. His father, Alphonse, fell in love with his wife, Caroline, when her father, a dear friend of his, passed away. Alphonse took the young orphan under his care, and as time passed they fell in love. He provides for his wife in grand style. Out of gratitude for her own good fortune, Caroline is extremely altruistic. She frequently visits the poor who live in her part of the Italian countryside. One day she chances upon the home of a family who has a beautiful foster daughter. Her name is Elizabeth Lavenza. Though they are kind, the poverty of Elizabeth's foster parents makes caring for her a financial burden. Caroline falls in love with the lovely girl on sight, and adopts her into the Frankenstein family. She is close in age to Victor, and becomes the central, most beloved part of his childhood. Elizabeth is Victor's most cherished companion. Their parents encourage the children to be close in every imaginable way Â as cousins, as brother and sister, and, in the future, as husband and wife.
Victor's childhood years pass with astonishing speed. Two more sons, William and Ernest, are born into the family. At this time, the elder Frankensteins decide to stop their constant traveling: the family finally settles in Geneva. Though Victor is something of a loner, he does have one dear friend: Henry Clerval, from whom he is inseparable. The two have utterly different ambitions: Victor has developed a passion for science, while Henry longs to study the history of human struggle and endeavor. Eventually, Victor's parents decide it is time for him to begin his university studies at Ingolstadt. Before his departure, Victor's mother passes away. On her deathbed, she tells Victor and Elizabeth that it is her greatest desire to see the two of them married. Victor leaves for university, still in mourning for his mother and troubled by this separation from his loved ones.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, life goes on. Because Caroline was so generous, Elizabeth learns to be gracious as well. When she is old enough to know her mind, she extends housing and love to a young girl named Justine, whose mother dislikes her and wishes to be rid of her. Though Justine is a servant in the Frankenstein household, Elizabeth, Ernest and William regard her as a sister.
At Ingolstadt, Victor's passion for science increases exponentially. He falls into the hands of Waldeman, a chemistry professor, who excites in him ambition and the desire to achieve fame and distinction in the field of natural philosophy. Thus begins the mania that will end in destroying Victor's life. Victor spends day and night in his laboratory. He develops a consuming interest in the life principle (that is, the force which imparts life to a human being). This interest develops into an unnatural obsession, and Victor undertakes to create a human being out of pieces of the dead. He haunts cemeteries and charnel houses. He tells no one of this work, and years pass without his visiting home. Finally, his work is completed: one night, the yellow eyes of the creature finally open to stare at Victor. When Victor beholds the monstrous form of his creation (who is of a gargantuan size and a grotesque ugliness), he is horror-stricken. He flees his laboratory and seeks solace in the night. When he returns to his rooms, the creature has disappeared.
Henry joins Victor at school, and the two begin to pursue the study of languages and poetry. Victor has no desire to ever return to the natural philosophy that once ruled his life. He feels ill whenever he thinks of the monster he created. Victor and Clerval spend every available moment together in study and play; two years pass.
Then, a letter from Elizabeth arrives, bearing tragic news. Victor's younger brother, William, has been murdered in the countryside near the Frankenstein estate. On his way back to Geneva, Victor is seized by an unnamable fear. Upon arriving at his village, he staggers through the countryside in the middle of a lightning storm, wracked with grief at the loss of his brother. Suddenly, he sees a figure, far too colossal to be that of a man, illuminated in a flash of lightning: he instantly recognizes it as his grotesque creation. At that moment, he realizes that the monster is his brother's murderer.
Upon speaking to his family the next morning, Victor learns that Justine (his family's trusted maidservant and friend) has been accused of William's murder. William was wearing an antique locket at the time of his death; this bauble was found in Justine's dress the morning after the murder. Victor knows she has been framed, but cannot bring himself to say so: his tale will be dismissed as the ranting of a madman. The family refuses to believe that Justine is guilty. Elizabeth, especially, is heartbroken at the wrongful imprisonment of her cherished friend. Though Elizabeth speaks eloquently of Justine's goodness at her trial, she is found guilty and condemned to death. Justine gracefully accepts her fate. In the aftermath of the double tragedy, the Frankenstein family remains in a state of stupefied grief.
While on a solitary hike in the mountains, Victor comes face to face with the creature, who proceeds to narrate what has became of him since he fled Victor's laboratory. After wandering great distances and suffering immense cold and hunger, the monster sought shelter in an abandoned hovel. His refuge adjoined the cottage of an exiled French family: by observing them, the monster acquired language, as well as an extensive knowledge of the ways of humanity. He was greatly aided in this by the reading of three books recovered from a satchel in the snow: Milton's Paradise Lost, Goethe's Sorrows of Werter, and a volume of Plutarch's Lives. The monster speaks with great eloquence and cultivation as a result of his limited but admirable education.
He developed a deep love for the noble (if impoverished) French family, and finally made an overture of friendship. Having already learned that his hideous appearance inspires fear and disgust, he spoke first to the family's elderly patriarch: this honorable old gentleman's blindness rendered him able to recognize the monster's sincerity and refinement (irrespective of his appearance). The other members of the family returned unexpectedly, however, and drove the creature from the cottage with stones.
The monster was full of sorrow, and cursed his creator and his own hideousness. He therefore determined to revenge himself upon Frankenstein, whose whereabouts he had discovered from the laboratory notebooks. Upon his arrival in Geneva, the creature encountered William, whose unspoiled boyish beauty greatly attracted him. The monster, longing for companionship, asked William to come away with him, in the hopes that the boy's youthful innocence would cause him to forgive the monster his ugliness. Instead, William struggled and called the monster a number of cruel names; upon learning that the boy was related to Victor, he strangled him in a vengeful fury. Drawn to the beauty of the locket, he took it, and fled to a nearby barn.
There, he found Justine, who had fallen into an exhausted sleep after searching all day and all night for William. The monster's heart was rent by her angelic loveliness, and he found himself full of longing for her. Suddenly, he was gripped by the agonizing realization that he would never know love. He tucked the locket into the folds of Justine's dress in an attempt to seek revenge on all withholding womankind.
The monster concludes his tale by denouncing Victor for his abandonment; he demands that Victor construct a female mate for him, so that he may no longer be so utterly alone. If Victor complies with this rather reasonable request, he promises to leave human society forever. Though he has a brief crisis of conscience, Victor agrees to the task in order to save his remaining loved ones.
He journeys to England with Clerval to learn new scientific techniques that will aid him in his hateful task. Once he has acquired the necessary data, he retreats to a dark corner of Scotland, promising to return to Henry when the job is done. Victor is nearly halfway through the work of creation when he is suddenly seized by fear. Apprehensive that the creature and his mistress will spawn yet more monsters, and thus destroy humanity, he tears the new woman to bits before the monster's very eyes. The creature emits a tortured scream. He leaves Victor with a single, most ominous promise: that he shall be with him on his wedding night.
Victor takes a small rowboat out into the center of a vast Scottish lake; there, he throws the new woman's tattered remains overboard. He falls into an exhausted sleep, and drifts for an entire day upon the open water. When he finally washes ashore, he is immediately seized and charged with murder. A bewildered Victor is taken into a dingy little room and shown the body of his beloved Henry, murdered at the creature's hands. This brings on a fever of delirium that lasts for months. His father comes to escort him home, and Victor is eventually cleared of all charges.
At home in Geneva, the family begins planning the marriage of Elizabeth and Victor. On their wedding night, Elizabeth is strangled to death in the conjugal bed. Upon hearing the news, Victor's father takes to his bed, where he promptly dies of grief.
Having lost everyone he has ever loved, Victor determines to spend the rest of his life pursuing the creature. This is precisely what the creature himself wants: now, Frankenstein will be as wretched and bereft as he is. For some time, the creator pursues his creation; he had chased him as far as the Arctic Circle when Walton rescued him. Though he cautions the sea captain against excessive ambition and curiosity, he contradictorily encourages the sailors to continue on their doomed voyage, though it will mean certain death. His reason: for glory, and for human knowledge. Finally, he is no longer able to struggle against his illness, and dies peacefully in his sleep. At the moment of his death, the creature appears: he mourns all that he has done, but maintains that he could not have done otherwise, given the magnitude of his suffering. He then flees, vowing that he will build for himself a funeral pyre and throw his despised form upon the flames.
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In the book Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, secretly blames Victor throughout the course of the novel as the cause of his own suffering and pain. Victor ultimately is the one and only monster within the novel because of relationship that has built between him and the monster. Victor Frankenstein has created a monster that throughout the novel harms him because of his lack of responsibility and selfishness.
The monster commits a number of different crimes which in return causes Victor to view him as the true monster however if Victor wasn’t so self- concerned with achieving his own goals, he would have seen the negative effects of the way he treated the monster earlier then he did. In Frankenstein there are many things that are the cause to Victor’s grief and suffering. One of them is him being irresponsible. For example, not only did Victor create one monster but he actually considers reconstructing yet another one, this time a female so his original creation could have a partner.
In Literature & Its Times Volume 1 by Joyce Moss and George Wilson it states on page 118 “In England, Frankenstein constructs a female counterpart for the creature. He reconsiders, though, realizing that he has been wrong in attempting to control life and death, and destroys the figure before giving it life”. In that statement it shows that Victor did attempt to make another creature but realized that it was a bad idea and destroyed it before even bringing to life.
Another example is from Frankenstein by Robert Kiely page 30. He states “ Frankenstein’s first act after creating a new life is to disown it… as soon as his dream is realized in concrete form. Frankenstein wants nothing to do with it. ” What he is saying is that the first thing Frankenstein did was disown the creature right after he created it because he couldn’t stand to look at it and wanted nothing to do with the monster which shows us how he is irresponsible.
Robert Kiely states again “But what is important in the thematic terms of the novel is not the mere existence of the separation, but the fact that physical life is made ugly (indeed, is made to wither and die prematurely) because it is inadequately tended by the mind. The problem is not abuse but neglect”. Here Kiely tells us that Victor’s problem is not that he is mentally abusing his creation rather neglecting it. Victor neglects the monster by ignoring him and just shoving him away like it’s not an issue. We can tell from the book that
Victor never actually physically abused the monster but only neglected him by acting as if he did not even exist which shows us that he is irresponsible because he is ignoring his own problems that he created. Also in Novels for Students: Volume 1 on page 182 it states “Like a newborn baby reaching out to his mother, the creature reaches out to Victor when he is transformed from an inanimate being. Victor labored for two years in order to give the creature life, but he is so appalled by the creature’s hideous appearance he flees, leaving the creature to fend for himself. By reading this statement we can tell that Victor flees away from the creature because of its disgusting looks and wants nothing to do with the creature and monster that he himself has created. This shows us how Victor does not want any responsibility of having this creature around him or even taking care of it. Not only can Victor Frankenstein be shown as irresponsible but he can also be characterized as selfish. For example he only made the monster because he wanted to prove to everyone that he was capable of creating life because he thought to himself that he was acting as God.
He mostly did it because he was seeking fame. In Frankenstein by Robert Kiely on page 30 he states “Despite his claims to scientific interest, he demonstrates no wish whatever to observe and analyze the imperfect results of his experiment. When he does finally pursue the monster, it is not to possess it, dominate, or torment it, but to annihilate it. ” This can show Victor as selfish because he doesn’t go to save the monster from causing havoc and mayhem, but to take the monster down and destroy his life completely.
This can characterize Victor as an egocentric and selfish person because he only is thinking about himself and how poorly the monster will make him look and plans to kill the monster before anyone really finds out about what he has done. By doing such thing it eliminates the bad reputation that he will have and that is all he really is thinking about. In Novels for Students page 182 is says “Victor exclaims that she is innocent, that he knows who the killer is, but does not speak up at her trail. Justine gives a forced confession and is convicted and hung.
Over come with remorse at the death of William and Justine, convinced of his own guilt, Victor seeks solitude. ” This can show us how Victor is characterized as selfish because he himself has forced the confession upon Justine and in result of it she was killed for her nonexistent actions. He does this to once again protect himself and his family name. After the death of Justine and William it is then when Victor actually begins to feel guilty because he didn’t expect any of this to happen because he just wanted to protect himself.
Which this again shows us how Victor can be characterized as a selfish human being because only until after they were killed is when he actually started feeling guilty about what he has done. He gets to the point where all he does is want to be by himself and starts secluding himself from the outside world. In Frankenstein by Robert Kiely on pages 23-24 he says “A new species would bless me as its creator and source says Frankenstein in the enthusiasm of his first experiments. No father could claim the gratitude of his child as completely as I should deserve theirs. This shows he is selfish as well because he is just talking about himself and how great he thinks his creation is and that is really all he cares about. By stating “No father could claim the gratitude of his child as completely as I should deserve theirs. ” Shows us how Victor later becomes jealous because all the other parents of their children are proud yet since he created the monster he hasn’t felt proud because of its utter disgust that it brings upon him. He is also saying that he should have the pride all the other parents feel about their children instead of them because he has created such a creature.
In the novel on pages 70-71 it says “the different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I finished, 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 the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. By stating this Victor is telling us how he worked hard for nearly two years and no one appreciated his work and all he wanted was the attention and spot light for the hard work he had been doing. But after he finished he realized he didn’t really want anyone to see the monster that he created because he feared it would ruin his name and reputation in his town. In the quote he is also saying that he was far beyond excited when he first started his project but once he finished it he was disappointed with the work he had done and immediately went to his edroom and laid their unable to fall asleep because of the thoughts of the monster he had just created. This shows the readers he is selfish because all he really cared about was the way the creature looked, not about the work he had done. One other thing is the pain and suffering that Victor suffers from. For example, the pain that he encounters is indescribable because he begins to feel guilty and at that same time he is also selfish. In the book Literature and Its Times on page 118 it states “the monster, who has followed Frankenstein to England, witnesses the destruction and threatens to visit Frankenstein on his wedding night.
The next day Clerval’s body is found strangled, and Frankenstein is accused of the crime. ” This is considered pain and suffering because Victor now has just been threatened by the monster that if he tries to destroy him he will come to his wedding and kill him. Instead the monster strangles Clerval in order to get his message across and scare Victor. Victor now has to go through the pain and suffering of losing Clerval. In the novel itself Mary Shelley writes “Thus ended a day memorable to me; it decided my future destiny. By this Victor is saying how his memorable day was the day he finally finished creating the monster and he realized from that point on that he will be judged from that point on because of his creation. And lastly in Thematic Anatomy: Intrinsic Structures by David Ketterer he states “Frankenstein, like many artists and scientists, becomes involved in his work to the extent that the external world of nature and human relationships loses it influence. ” This shows that Frankenstein loses his influence of the outside world and people because he does what he wants to do.
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In conclusion we find that Victor Frankenstein has many different reasons for his own grief and suffering. Such things are pain, selfishness, and irresponsibility. By having all of these negative things it influences himself in a bad way because he doesn’t really know right from wrong. He at first thought he would be helping the world by creating a new life but then soon realized it was the worst possible thing he could have done because it did nothing but bring pain and suffering to himself and the people around him.
Author: Dave Villacorta
Research Paper on Frankenstein
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