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Frankenstein Essay, Research Paper

Mary Shelley?s Frankenstein has been hailed as one of the best horror stories ever. The title, Frankenstein, is the last name of the creator of the infamous Frankenstein?s monster, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. His is a story of the great pain suffered by Frankenstein and his monster and people?s misunderstanding of the poor creature. All his efforts to find a companion are useless, as society shuns him for his horrid figure.

Although the story is told by Dr. Frankenstein through Robert Walton, an arctic explorer, the antagonist seems to be his monster. Despite his gruesome appearance, this being composed of various cadaver parts starts out as a compassionate creature longing for companionship and curious of how he came to be. He desperately tries to befriend members of society, but utterly fails at each attempt. His appearance earns him no sympathy, but loathing from his creator and townspeople alike. For example, after secretly living with a poor family for more than a year, he decides to approach the father, a blind old man. The creature reasons that since the old man cannot see him, he will not be repulsed by the monster?s form, thus providing companionship for the creature. As the two talk, the old man responds to the plight of the stranger. However, the monster?s wish for friendship does not come true for the old man?s children return home to find their blind father with a gigantic monster. The old man?s son attacks the monster, but instead of killing the boy, he runs away, overcome by despair and anguish. The creature decides to request Frankenstein make a female version of himself. Frankenstein refuses at first, saying that creating another might destroy mankind, but the monster says to him:

You are in the wrong, and instead of threatening, I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph? Shall I respect man when he condemns me? ?What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand another creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself? it shall content me. It is true, we shall be monsters cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another. Our lives will not be happy, but they will be harmless? Oh! My creator, make me happy? Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some existing thing; do not deny me my request! (182-184)

This plea moves Frankenstein and he agrees to his request. Nevertheless, Frankenstein later reconsiders his decision and sends the monster on a killing spree.

Because of this, Frankenstein himself is the antagonist of his own story. He and society contribute to the sorrow of the monster through their negative responses. Frankenstein feels like he is doing the right thing by rejecting the monster, but does not realize that the scorn directed toward the creature by himself and society are the cause of his murderous actions. When asked to create a mate for the creature, Frankenstein responds, ?Shall I? set loose? a [demon] whose delight is in death?? I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage? (212).

The story actually begins with Robert Walton, whose ship finds a man near death in the arctic regions. He is taken aboard and nursed back to health. Upon recovery, he tells his story to Walton.

His name is Victor Frankenstein and he grew up fascinated with alchemy and various other sciences. He tried to discover the procedure to overcome aging and death, and finally created life from various parts of cadavers put together to form a gigantic humanoid creature. Once given life, Frankenstein was horrified by the monstrosity of his own creation and flees. He went into a coma for about two years, not knowing what became of his creation. One day, he received a letter saying his little brother had been murdered. The girl accused was a friend of the family and Victor was sure that his monster was the murderer, not the girl. However, there was nothing Frankenstein could do so the girl was executed for the murder of the boy.

Mourning two deaths, Frankenstein ventured alone into the mountains and was confronted by the monster. It told him how it survived for the previous two years, living in a deserted shack of a poor family. In his hovel, he observed the family through a crack in the wall. By doing so, he was able to learn to speak, read, and write. After this, he found Victor?s journal and learned of his origin. He decided to search for his creator in order to ask for a companion, one who would not reject him. He promised he and his mate would leave all civilization alone, never to be seen again. Victor reluctantly agreed and began work.

Later, however, he began to ponder the consequences of his work and changed his mind. He was afraid that the two monsters together would begin a race of monsters to terrorize humanity. He therefore destroyed his work and the creature appeared and threatened vengeance, saying that he would be there on Frankenstein?s wedding night.

Soon afterward, Frankenstein discovered his closest friend had been strangled to death. Despite the creature?s warning, Victor went on with the wedding. On their wedding night, he heard screaming from their hotel room and found his wife also strangled by the creature as the creature faded into the darkness. Frankenstein then vows to find the monster and destroy it once and for all. His pursuit led him to the arctic, where Walton?s ship found him.

Shortly after completing his story, Frankenstein dies, and the monster appears. He tells Walton that he plans to make a gigantic funeral bier and burn himself in the fire and disappears in the darkness.

The monster was tormented by his conflict with society to the point of murder. He had a great desire for companionship and to be accepted by people. It is actually Frankenstein?s own fault that people dear to him perished. He knew this, and it made him feel that much worse and focused his resentment on the monster. This resentment made him too stubborn to see the monster?s true colors, causing him to brand it as a cold-blooded murderer. If only he saw how the monster was really just starved for affection, his life and mind could have been saved, as well as his family. The monster could not handle the amount of rejection endured and let out his frustration on Victor?s family and friends. The conflict was primarily between the monster and society, as well as Frankenstein. He wondered if Satan might be a symbol of his own condition. Like Satan, he too was rejected by his creator (165). Chapters eleven through sixteen illustrate the desire for the monster to become a humane creature through his portrayal of life in the shack of the De Laceys.

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in an interesting way. The monster?s story is told through Frankenstein?s story, which is told through Walton?s journal. Shelley herself was able to express the despair felt by the monster and the grief and shock felt by Frankenstein. Emotions were a big element of this story. This has also been referred to as a great gothic story. By gothic, one means that the author emphasizes the grotesque (such as the monster), the mysterious (for instance, how the monster was actually created or how it followed Frankenstein), the desolate environment (as in the story?s beginning and ending in the arctic), the horrible (all the murders, for example), the ghostly (specters and eerie situations), and the absolute fear aroused in the reader. One example of the grotesque quality of Frankenstein is where Dr. Frankenstein says of his creation:

His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips. (69)

I could honestly say I rather enjoyed this novel. I actually felt sympathy for the monster and wanted for it to find companionship. It made me think about how some people may seem bad, but are really just misunderstood, exactly like the monster in Frankenstein. All he wanted was compassion and understanding, like any person. When denied this, his frustration drove him mad and forced him to express himself in a murderous rage.

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