In the novel, one sees the development of the creature like a child. He appreciates nature’s beauty and feels love towards the DeLacey family, showing that it is ‘nurture’ that causes him to turn to murder. The way that Frankenstein, his creator who should have a paternal attitude towards his creation that he has laboured over for 2 years, rejects him because he is ‘a hideous wretch’, this brings about the discussion of society and the role it has to play in the creatures actions, due to his rejection from everyone around him, he behaves in this way. It seems that Victor’s motives are selfish, when he talks about the creation of the monster, he mentions that if he succeeds in his ‘labours’ he will have ‘played the role of God’ and without thinking of the consequences of what he is doing by ‘bestowing animation upon lifeless matter’ the word ‘upon’ has a God like feel and suggests that Frankenstein believes he has the power to do so. It wasn’t until death touched him personally in the case of William that he wanted to control the monster and avenge himself. The possible benefit to humanity is simply a possible product of his selfishness and desire to control nature.
I don’t believe this makes the murderous actions of the creature entirely Frankenstein’s fault, but I would not say that he is guiltless nor can we give him the credit of creating his monster for the good of humanity. Victor is simply foolish for trying to control something that is best left to nature, and he is punished for this, in the days of Mary Shelley religion was a big feature of society and in the lives of many, therefore ‘playing God’ would have even worse connotations. Again and again in the novel, Shelley stresses the cleansing and healing power of nature and the importance of living in harmony with nature rather than trying to control or change its course. This is shown in the creature’s narrative, when he appreciates ‘birdsong’ and ‘the most beautiful flowers’. This brings about the nature/nurture debate; the reader feels pity towards the monster and sees that he is corrupted by the way in which he is treated, he states that he ‘admired virtue and good feelings’ therefore in my opinion the monster is but an instrument in the ‘game’ that is Frankenstein’s greed for science and unnatural power.
In fact, Victor is miserable and exhausted both physically and mentally when he is withdrawn from nature and locked in his laboratory, both when he is creating the monster and his ‘mate’ which he later destroys. It is not until he is back amongst the natural elements that his misery is eased, “My spirits were elevated by the enchanting appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my memory, the present was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays of hope and anticipations of joy.” So, Victor is not so much evil as he is foolish and arrogant to think that he can change or control the natural order of life. It seems to me that because Frankenstein’s act of creation is so marred, that he is ultimately punished and all those that he loves and are close to him are brutally murdered.
There could be several reasons for why the monster’s behavior is such, only confirming the powerful portrait Shelley gives the reader. One way in which Victor can be seen as a good character is that he represents the forward thinking element of science. He is a man of rational thought and scientific curiosity, Victor believes in Science. This idea suggests that science can lead to explaining the unexplainable, making elements in life better, and allowing the greatness of individuals to flourish and prosper. However, Frankenstein clearly did not pursue his creation for those reasons, more for his own pleasure. On the other hand, when Victor becomes aware of what his creation has done, Victor does take some degree of responsibility in trying to stop the creature’s path of destruction, assuring that he will go to the ends of the world in order to destroy the creature. This shows that Victor is not an entirely wicked character.
On another level, Victor’s unwillingness to create a companion for the monster reflects his good side, as he does not want to make the problems worse that his creation has caused, it also shows his lack of trust. The monsters promise to leave and never return; was disbelieved by Frankenstein. I think the most important part of Frankenstein’s character that portrays that he is selfish and arrogant is that Victor does not fully accept responsibility at the point he becomes aware of the monster’s destructive capabilities. He allows Justine to be hanged, and at this point, I think that the reader’s sympathies are greatly diminished. It is proven that those who are mistreated in childhood go on to mistreat those in their lives; therefore I think that the creature is guiltless and that it is that way that he has been ‘nurtured’ that has caused him to behave so horrifically. When first learning of the destruction wrought by the monster, Victor runs away, hiding from the ethical and moral responsibility required in such a situation.
This is a childlike action and shows Victor’s immaturity in being able to handle such a situation and this was shown from the beginning ‘ I escaped, and rushed downstairs’. In these actions, he contradicts his role, where the laboratory in which the creature was created can be paralleled with a womb ‘after so much time spent in painful labour’ here we can suggest that he is responsible for what he has done. His eager pursuit of science was done out of selfish glory, a self-indulgent desire to jealously guard what he believes is rightly his. In this setting, one sees that Victor is not engaging in creation for the benefit of others, as much as for the glory of himself. This could be pointed towards Victor’s poor character and would suggest that his hunting down of the monster is nothing more than vengeance, and an act that seeks to bring revenge for the destruction of his idyllic vision of how his life should have been.
In the monster’s own words, ‘Frankenstein’s was a great crime, for he created a man devoid of friend, love, or soul.’ This shows the creatures intelligence and the foresight that Frankenstein did not have. The reader sees that the creature is gentle and only seeks a friend. I believe that the reader sympathizes with the monster because he is depressed due to the way that people treat him. The monster is a misunderstood and gentle soul. He has human-like emotions and feelings, but people treat him like a hideous beast because of his appearance. He craves affection, but no one will give it to him, not even his creator. The monster claims that even the Devil, ‘the enemy of God’ had friends and companions, but he is alone. The monster says, “Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding’. The monster is not just a wild demon but a creature deprived of affection and friendship. The reader is able to sympathize with the monster’s miserable situation.
‘But, in detail which he gave you of them, he could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured, wasting in impotent passion’. The monster has suffered through feelings of despair and unhappiness, which make people feel terribly for him. The monster realizes that what his creator has done is wrong and recognizes that he is the one who has to suffer for it ‘Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge.
I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery’ here we begin to see the feelings of resentment that the creature shows because of his mistreatment. This is a case of the monster being very gentle in nature, but because he has been neglected and has not been nurtured, he has become a violent, misunderstood creature. Finally, the monster was not asked if he wanted to be created. He should have the same rights as any other humans having been created in their image. He has been given no affection and he says ‘I am malicious because I am miserable’. The monster has done wrong but he has also made attempts to amend them, therefore showing that it is not the fault of the creature.