Last week I wrote about the great Nature versus Nurture debate and how it had to do with Frankenstein. While initially I was going to write about something completely different this week, the last few pages of the novel persuaded me to go back to my previous idea.
While last week I concluded that “Bill” (Yes, I know that in class we decided he probably shouldn’t have a name, but it is still easier for the blog’s sake) had already become evil due to his circumstances, the last few pages of the novel suggest otherwise. After Frankenstein’s passing, Walton finds Bill in the cabin on his ship. It is here that Bill confesses his remorse for the murders. Sort of.
Bill brings up Frankenstein’s suffering and then says, “he suffered not more in the consummation of the deed;–oh! Not the ten-thousandth portion of the anguish that was mine during the lingering detail of its execution. […] Think ye that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears?” (Shelley 218) Bill admits that murdering Frankenstein’s friend made him feel terrible. At another point he also says that murdering the sleeping Elizabeth and innocent Willian were hard for him, too. He says that, “[his] heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy,” (Shelley 218) at first. As I mentioned last week, he was compassionate and yearning for love and companionship before he was turned evil. However, I assumed that because he did kill William, he already had lost his innocence, so to speak. However, here we find that this isn’t exactly true.
Bill himself admits to finally losing his good side. He says, “I had cast off all feeling, subdued all anguish to riot in the excess of my despair. Evil thenceforth became my good.” (Shelley 218) Meaning that only then did he really become evil.
What I’m trying to say, is that yes, I stand by last week’s post about nature versus nurture, that Bill did turn evil because of his circumstances, but I’d like to add something else as well. My other “moral to the story” is that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge. I suppose that ties back in on what we’ve said all along, even about Ophelia. We assumed Bill became evil too quickly. While we were right about Bill being evil eventually, we were too quick to jump the gun.