‘Guilty’ has multiple definitions and uses in modern day society. It can be used to describe a feeling that pushes people towards apologies and good deeds. It can also signify the blame on a person. Guilt, and all the complications that are dragged with it, are inescapable in Frankenstein.
Justine was condemned for a murder she did not commit and lost her life because of her unproven innocence. She was not guilty for the murder of young William. Even though the monster’s hands were the ones who strangled away William’s life, is Frankenstein consequently guilty as well? He created the very monster that resulted in the death of his brother, Justine, and Clerval. Frankenstein, while rotting in jail for the murder of Clerval contemplates, “At one time I considered whether I should not declare myself guilty, and suffer the penalty of law, less innocent than poor Justine had been” (Shelley 184). Frankenstein compares himself to the pure Justine, considering him innocent. He says that “poor unhappy Justine, was as innocent as [him]” (Shelley 189). In my opinion, he has an equal amount of blood on his hands as the monster and unfairly equates his guilt with Justine’s.
However, Frankenstein did recognize that he indeed did play a part in the deaths of his loved ones. This guilt he felt after realizing what he had contributed to lead to his ceaseless search for the monster. He was determined to seek revenge for the monster’s crimes and to kill him, destroying the demon he designed.
When Frankenstein’s fight was terminated by death, his monster visited his coffin, asking for his forgiveness. He explained that “evil thenceforth became [his] good” and he, although he felt guilty, continued to kill to prove his point and get revenge on Frankenstein (Shelley 218). The creature realizes his guilt and contribution to the ultimate death of Frankenstein but also realizes that he is not the only ‘monster’ in the situation. He says, “Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me?” (Shelley 219). The creature directly caused the deaths of the innocent people and Frankenstein played his part as well, but society is also guilty of driving them to this madness through pressures, judgments, and expectations. Though the peoples’ hands did not physically strangle the victims, guilt can be found in all.