The Creator's Faults In The Creation
Often the actions of children are reflective of the
attitudes of those who raised them. In the novel
Dr. Victor Frankenstein is the sole being that can take
responsibility for the creature that he has created, as he
is the only one that had any part in bringing it into
being. While the actions of the creation are the ones that
are the illegal and deadly, their roots are traced back to
the flaws of Frankenstein as a creator.
Many of Frankenstein's faults are evident in the appearance
of his creation. It is described as having yellow skin,
dark black hair, eyes sunk into their sockets, and black
lips (Shelly 56). Frankenstein, having chosen the parts for
his creature, is the only one possible to blame for its
appearance. Martin Tropp states that the monster is
"designed to be beautiful and loving, it is loathsome and
unloved" (64). Clearly it is Frankenstein's lack of
foresight in the creation process to allow for a creature
that Frankenstein "had selected his features as beautiful,"
(56) to become something which the very sight of, causes
its creator to say "breathless horror and disgust filled my
heart"(56). He overlooks the seemingly obvious fact that
ugliness is the natural result when something is made from
parts of different corpses and put together. Were he
thinking more clearly he would have noticed monster's
Another physical aspect of the monster which shows a fault
in Frankenstein is its immense size. The reason that
Frankenstein gives for creating so large a creature is his
own haste. He states that ,"As the minuteness of the parts
formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary
to my first intention, to make a being gigantic in stature
..." (52). Had Frankenstein not had been so rushed to
complete his project he would not have had to deal with
such a physically intimidating creature. Tropp however
states that ambition may have had a role in the size of the
creation. He says that the creation is "born of
Frankenstein's megalomania" (81). This may indeed be true
as the inventor states "A new species would bless me as its
creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would
owe their being to me" (52). Frankenstein seems obsessed
with being the father of this new race, so he makes the
creature large in order to assure its dominance.
The more important defect within Frankenstein is not so
much shown in the appearance that he gave his creation, but
the manner in which he responds to it. The first thing that
Frankenstein notices upon the activation of his creation is
one of being appalled (56). Frankenstein sees the
creature's physical appearance only, taking no time to
attempt to acknowledge its mental nature. He cannot accept
it simply because it looks too far removed from his view of
beautiful (Oates 77). Because of this he drives the
creature away, abandoning it. The creature is "in one sense
an infant-a comically monstrous eight foot baby- whose
progenitor rejects him immediately after creating him..."
(Oates 70). It is due to this abandonment that the monster
develops the murderous tendencies displayed later in the
novel. Even when the creature is shown to be naturally
good, its physical form never allows it acceptance.
Whenever the creation attempts to be rational with
Frankenstein it is rejected, with in almost all cases
Frankenstein sighting its appearance as one of the reasons.
"Frankenstein's response to the `thing' he has created is
solely in aesthetic terms..." (Oates 75).
Throughout the novel Frankenstein continually insists that
"The tortures of Hell are too mild a vengeance for all [the
creature's] crimes" (95). Frankenstein is incorrect,
however in assuming that the creature is inherently evil.
Mary Lowe-Evans states that ,"Nothing in Frankenstein is
more unexpected than the Creature's sensitivity" (52). His
benevolent nature described in his story is meant to show
that he is not the beast that Frankenstein has made him out
to be (Lowe-Evans 52). The creature is intrigued by the
lives of the people that he finds living in a small cabin,
the De Laceys. The creature loves everything about these
people and attempts to aid them by gathering for them much
needed firewood. This action is described by Tropp as, "a
last attempt to enter its [Paradise's} gates" (75). He also
sympathizes with the plights of other unfortunate people
that he hears of such as the Native Americans (Lowe-Evans
53). It is only upon being again rejected because of his
appearance that the creature becomes the monster that
Frankenstein sees him as.
Just as the creature's love of the De Laceys show that he
is not an evil being and that Frankenstein has caused him
to become this way, so does the creature's constant longing
for companionship. The creature says in regard to
originally capturing Frankenstein's brother William, "If I
could, therefore seize him ... I should not be so desolate
in this peopled earth." (136). He only murders him upon
realizing that he is a relative of Frankenstein. The
creature's ultimate plea for companionship comes when he
requests that Frankenstein creates another monster to be
his mate, and that the two monsters would live in
isolation. Tropp acknowledges that this is truly meant to
do no harm to the race of man, and simply to comfort the
creature. He also states, however, that it is in the
creation's nature to look for acceptance by humans, and
will if given the chance, return to human civilization (78).
The most major crime committed by the creature in the eyes
of Frankenstein is the murder of his wife Elizabeth. The
roots of the killing can be traced back not only to the
malice displayed by the creature toward Frankenstein, but
also to Frankenstein's own self-centered attitude.
The creature pronounces his threat on Elizabeth's life,
after Frankenstein has done what Oates calls "The cruelest
act of all" (78), destroying the partially finished monster
that was to be the mate of his first creation. She also
states that Frankenstein, "in `mangling' the flesh of his
demon's bride, he is murdering the pious and rather too
perfect Elizabeth..." (78). Frankenstein wishes for his own
happiness through companionship in marriage, but denies the
same right to his creation. Frankenstein can also be viewed
as being responsible for the death of Elizabeth by assuming
that when the creature states "I shall be with you on your
wedding night" (161) he is going to be killed rather than
Elizabeth, even when all of the creature's prior killings
point to the fact that he would attempt to make
Frankenstein's life miserable rather than actually kill him
(Lowe-Evans 61). In fact if the creature actually wanted
Frankenstein to die, it had the perfect opportunity to kill
him the second Frankenstein destroyed his would be wife.
Lowe-Evans points out that this can be attributed to
Frankenstein's own selfish attitude. She says he "might
feel that even the attention implied in the Creature's
warning rightfully belongs to him" (62). This fits the
spoiled childhood life of Frankenstein, detailed in the
works early chapters (Lowe-Evans 62).
It is stated by Oates that ,"The monsters that we create
... `are' ourselves as we cannot hope to see ourselves..."
(75). This statement is perfectly applicable to
Frankenstein. The qualities that he would most like to deny
are shown through the results that they have had on the
being which he has brought into existence. The results of
his flaws take on a physical aspect, destroying those
around him, until he finally dies seeking revenge on
something that he himself has brought about.
Lowe-Evans, Mary. Frankenstein: Mary Shelly's Wedding
Guest. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.
Oates, Joyce Carol. "Frankenstein: Creation as
Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York:
Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus. New
York: Penguin Books, 1978.
Tropp, Martin. Mary Shelly's Monster. Boston: Houghton
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