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Good or Evil?
The monster in Shelly’s Frankenstein performs evil acts because Dr. Frankenstein neglected to be the fatherly figure needed to help the monster develop normally. The monster was innocent just like a child, not evil. The monster was like a naive child looking for some answers and some affection. When he did not get these things he did what many would do; he rebelled with evil actions. The actions that the monster took were evil but the monster was not “born” evil.
As defined by the dictionary, evil is: violating or inconsistent with the moral law; wicked. Evil can be avoided but for how long depends on mental strength of the individual. The monster was not evil by definition to begin with, but became so as a result of the rejection and persecution of society. In the beginning he was gentle and kind, wanting to understand and know more about the world. Nevertheless the monster was like an adolescent; he did not have a stable mentality. The decision to commit evil acts is of course ultimately up to the person who commits them, but one can only be pushed so far before breaking.
This so called monster was “born” into the world and then was not given a second glance, not even from his creator. Even so, he was still hopeful that Dr. Frankenstein, like a father, would accept and nurture him because the doctor was his only link with humankind. He even tried to communicate this need with his creator; however, his creator fled from him:
“I beheld the wretch---the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaw opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs” (p. 43).
The doctor was so close minded, even to his own creation, that he did not realize what the monster really wanted, which was acceptance and love from his “father”. In the quote above, the doctor describes in his own words his creature. The doctor describes him as a miserable monster. There are two types of monsters, one type is the non-human, hideous, ugly, physically bizarre monster, and another is the one whose actions define him as a monster. When the monster goes into a town he is forced out by the people throwing rocks at him. This began the violent acts and hatred shown towards the monster. In describing himself, the monster asks “Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind?” (Monster, pg. 130) When he comes upon the child William it proves to be his breaking point. The monster, seeking a friend in a young child, is once again scorned.
“Child, what is the meaning of this? I do not intend to hurt you; listen to me…he struggled violently. ‘Let me go,’ he cried; ‘monster! Ugly wretch! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre…” (pg. 127)
With the intention of just quieting the boy, he grasps too tightly and the body falls to the ground. This is his first act of what could be called evil behavior. Even though he didn’t mean to kill William it is still considered an evil act because it is “Inconsistent with the moral law.” Later, he would kill all of Dr. Frankenstein’s close friends and family. It is this, his intentional acts of violence and destruction, which made him an evil monster.
Society must put the responsibility for these actions upon someone, and it is Dr. Frankenstein as the creator, that deserves that responsibility. When someone does something as miraculous as creating life from death, they need to know and face the consequences and responsibilities that come with their actions. Therefore, Dr. Frankenstein’s clear disregard of his responsibility towards the monster makes him accountable for the monster’s actions. The monster said, “My own spirit let loose from the grave and forced to destroy all that was dear to me.” (pg.?)
Mary Shelley worked into the book that every action has a consequence and that the
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Frankenstein, English-language films, Fictional cyborgs, Romanticism, The Monster, The Doctor, Frankenstein in popular culture, Frankensteins monster
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