Chan 1 Harrison Chan Ms.

Zachan AP Literature 29 November 2010 Poor, Poor Frankenstein« Playing God For over a century, Mary Shelley¶s Frankensteinhas garnered the abject compassion of millions of readers for over a century. However, the receiver of such compassion is the subject of much debate among readers. Victor Frankenstein, by virtue, or lack thereof, of his human reaction and wretched torment at the hands of his creation for pure, vengeful spite deserves the greater sympathy. The creature, seeing the double-edged blade that humanity was, became a foul being that pursued murder for simple revenge, not recognizing that the humanity and love that he sought would never be found once he ventured down the road of darkness. Victor Frankenstein and his creature followed a path of opposing development. As Frankenstein is first introduced, Shelley portrays him as a boy who is favored with all the benefits of perfect life. He is raised among a family that loves him unconditionally. His parents ³seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me [Frankenstein]´ (35). Frankenstein was pampered as only the children of the wealthy can be. His father¶s ³smile of benevolent pleasure´ (35) and ³mother¶s tender caresses´ (35) were a common staple in his childhood years. The young Frankenstein wanted for nothing, even a childhood companion who would eventually become his love and wife. The adoption of Elizabeth Lavenza was the final straw in perfecting Frankenstein¶s childhood. He was settled for life, with anything a young boy, young man, or grown man could possibly want for. He had family, he had love, and he had wealth. All of it would be taken away with a single creation.

Chan 2 Frankenstein was a man who pursued the secrets of the world. He studied ³the structure of the human frame´ (52), seeking to recreate a task attributed to divine bodies such as God, the creation of life. His creation was intended to be a culmination of months of research, a beautiful object, a symbol of science. In his fallible, human reasoning, he had, in actuality, created a monster of such horrible appearance that ³no mortal could support the horror of that countenance´ (59). That Frankenstein fled in terror from the creature is no surprise, nor is it neglectful. His creature in death and his creature in animation were two entirely different beings. Lacking animation, the creature¶s ³limbs were in proportion, and I [Frankenstein] had selected his features as beautiful´ (58). Once animated though, the creator¶s own disgust drove him from his creation. Harsh it may seem, from a human point of view, though Frankenstein acted selfishly, he did what most other men would have done, flee. Frankenstein¶s creature was brought into this world and left to fend for himself. If the creation were a turtle, it would be quite natural. However, the creation was built on the frame and mind of a human. As such, he sought such comforts as a human might. In a way, it can be said that the creature only wished to have a ³childhood´ such as Victor had. The creature settled in to a hovel beside a ³delightful house´ (113) in which resided an old man, Agatha, and Felix. Their life seemed so perfect to the creature, but that even they could find sorrow somehow gave solace to the creature¶s wretchedness. That the creature hoped they could be as a family to them is further evidence supporting the creature as an opposite to Victor¶s childhood. Where Victor has all he seeks, the creature can only watch all he seeks. Where Victor spends great time seeking knowledge of life, the creature devotes his time to finding love and acceptance. The paths of Victor¶s and his creation¶s lives will come together, merge, and diverge again. While one becomes more human, the other becomes more bestial, as each tries to balance the other.

Chan 3 When the creature realizes that humanity is not all perfect, his outlook of the world changes suddenly. That man could be ³at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base´ (122) starts the first cogs turning in the creature¶s mind of revenge upon the injustice his creator did to him. The creation wonders at his own existence, pondering his future, whether he is doomed forever to be alone and miserable. It is the right of every being to be selfish, but Frankenstein¶s creation takes his selfish desires as excuse to commit a most heinous crime. In murdering William, the ³dear lovely child´ (75), the creation destroys any possibility that humanity can or will ever accept him. There are few crimes as heinous and hated as the murder of a child. Shelley¶s description of William as having ³sweet laughing blue eyes´ (68) paints a cherubic image that is cardinal sin to mar. Frankenstein¶s pursuit of his creation can only be described as in direct result of each and every life the creature took. For spite and vengeance, the creature slew by his own hand, or indirectly, William Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, Justine Moritz, Elizabeth Lavenza, and Alphonse Frankenstein. The creature took everything from not only Frankenstein, but the surviving members of each victim¶s family. The creature took brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, lovers, friends, and companions from every person who knew one of the victims. He was not only punishing Frankenstein with his indiscriminate murders,he was also destroying the lives of families that would never again be the same. Any thread of hope that the creation could be welcomed into humanity or find solace in one like him was erased completely by his own actions. Frankenstein could but watch in helplessness as his friends and family died around him. He had been presented a choice: to choose between the greater good for the world or to choose for the greater good for himself, while holding off the idea that ³future ages might curse me as their pest´ (171). Frankenstein refused to allow his selfishness ³to buy its own peace at the price,

Chan 4 perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race´ (171),as it was only under duress that Frankenstein acceded to creating the creature a companion of the opposite sex. His belief that he was giving his own life in exchange for the creature¶s wrath, while misplaced, was noble indeed. Despite Frankenstein¶s valiant efforts, he worried in vain. He was ultimately unable to stop his creation from succeeding in destroying all Frankenstein held dear. With the last straw, Elizabeth, removed from Frankenstein¶s life, he finally lost all remaining control over his humanity. Frankenstein gave in to raw instinct, living on a single thought. ³Revenge alone endowed me [Frankenstein] with strength and composure´ (205), fueling Frankenstein in his quest for vengeance upon the creature for destroying every good aspect of his life. As Frankenstein became more creature, the creature became more Frankenstein, their roles reversed as predator became prey. Where the creature had ³sworn eternal revenge´ (144) upon Frankenstein, in his turn, Frankenstein swore an oath ³to pursue the daemon, who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict´ (206). Both pledged their lives to the other, vowing death before giving up pursuit of the other. Yet, the creature has somehow become more human than Frankenstein. As he speaks to Walton in his own defense, the creature tells of how his ³heart was poisoned with remorse´ (222). Even as the creature consummated the deeds of murder, he was tormented with anguish over the pain he caused. Frankenstein¶s creation better understood the heart than Frankenstein himself, for the creature knew his heart ³was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy´ (222). In his admittance however, one finds that Frankenstein even more deserves the sympathy of the reader for if the creature recognized his wrongdoings, and yet willfully committed them all the same, he has not learned all it is to have human emotion. No compassionate man would slay women and children in the name of

Chan 5 vengeance for neglect. For all that the creature is not a human; he is fashioned by human hands in the image of a man. Every person who reads Frankenstein forms their own opinion about each character, and ever reader finds they side with either Frankenstein or his creation. It is Frankenstein who deserves the open sympathy of the reader, for his life is so viciously wrenched apart by the creature¶s undiscriminating slaughter of man, woman, and child in the pursuit of revenge against Frankenstein. Frankenstein was so horrified by his creation that he would ever after eschewthe laboratory. Frankenstein would be haunted until his death at the thought that his creation destroyed everything he held dear. Sympathy is the least a man should receive after enduring the slaughter of every person he ever loved.