Humans or Monsters?

Throughout the novel, Mary Shelley constantly implies the monstrosity of human nature. Although the “creature” represents the typical stereotype of a monster, Shelley plays on certain comparisons to Frankenstein in order to illustrate the fine line between humanity and monstrosity.

Firstly, Frankenstein creates an evil monster out of selfishness because he wants to obtain notoriety and fame. He claims, “no father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve [my creation’s]” (Shelley 80).  Frankenstein’s lack of concern for repercussions and thirst for fame can categorize him as a monster. Frankenstein puts his desires and concerns above that of all others, a typically inhumane characteristic of mankind.

Secondly, Frankenstein abandons his creation purely based on physical judgments. The second he sees the creature he gave life to, he is revolted by his hideous appearance and terrifying demeanor. Frankenstein merely judges this creature based on his appearance and doesn’t give him a chance for a normal life. Similarly, all humans that the creature encounters treat him the same way. Because of this inhumane treatment, a monster is born. In this light, humans can be viewed as monstrous creatures because of their superficiality and reckless attitude towards others.

Lastly, towards the end of the novel, Frankenstein himself becomes a striking image of the monster he created. He becomes obsessed with evil and revenge, and consumed by hatred. Frankenstein refers to himself as a “miserable wretch” (Shelley 165). Shelley now uses the same words to describe Frankenstein, as she had previously used for the monster reflecting the fact that the two are become increasingly more alike. Just like the monster he created, Frankenstein eventually became alienated and even abhorred himself.  The many similarities between Frankenstein and his creation show the fine line between humanity and monstrosity.

7 comments
  1. Erica, I think this is a very interesting blog post. I agree with your points that Frankenstein has now turned into more or less of a monster himself. I think the most enlightening portion you pointed out was that Shelley used the same language to refer to Frankenstein and the monster. This not only shows there is a fine line between humanity and monstrosity but that Frankenstein himself has traversed this boundary.

  2. It is interesting that you point out the connection between Frankenstein and the monster in the end of the novel. You said that Frankenstein became heartless and full of revenge, just as the creature was. But, could there be a possible role reversal? The monster has a change of heart in the end and asks for his creator’s forgiveness and vows to end his own life to spare himself of guilt and the world of his evil. The monster takes on human characteristics while Frankenstein becomes more like the evil monster he created.

  3. Erica, this post it extremely interesting and really shows how closely you looked at the text. In the final volume of Frankenstein, it appears that Frankenstein becomes more lonely, one by one, loosing another person he loves. As you pointed out, the fact that Frankenstein feels so lonely in the world mimics the position of the monster. I did not notice the vocabulary in which Shelley used to describe Frankenstein, but as you pointed out, the fact that Shelley uses “wretch” to describe Frankenstein at the end of the novel refers to the fact that the two of them are more similar than he expected. As I commented on someone else’s blog, maybe these are the repercussions for becoming to close to “God”. Better yet, through the similarity between the monster and Frankenstein, is it possible to say that the creature is closer to a human than a monster??

  4. Apart from what you said, it is also interesting how introspective the monster is unlike Frankenstein. One would come to think that Frankenstein would realize that he himself bears all the guilt, but he tries to put some blame on the monster. Instead of being more understanding when reminiscing, Frankenstein seems to still believe that his creation is in the wrong. On the other hand, in the end we see the monster being the more understanding one, unlike his human creator.

  5. I think this is a very insightful post. I agree with your first paragraph about Frankenstein’s obsession with fame and his selfishness. It reminded me a lot of one of the deadly sins; greed (this could be because I watched the movie Se7en last week). I especially think your last point is very strong, where you show that Frankenstein is not only a type of monster himself, but he is kind of morphing into the monster.

  6. Erica, it is an insightful point that you point out in the end. There are many times in the novel that Shelly uses the same words to describe both Frankenstein and the monster. Words like “creature” and “wretch” can apply to people and the monster. Both sides can be very vulnerable sometimes, but they can also be very ruthless to each other. Therefore, it is very hard to tell which side is more humane than the other. In my opinion, I agree with you that Frankenstein is eviler than the monster, since he is the creator who has a wrong incentive to his inventions.

  7. I agree with you Erica. It is interesting to note that Frankenstein is using the same language the monster uses for himself at the start of the novel. The superficial and selfish nature of Frankenstein can lead the reader to think that he is in fact the monster. These qualities, however, are prevalent in several humans nowadays. There is indeed a thin line between monstrosity and humanity.

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