“It is Victor who ultimately conforms to conventional definitions of monstrosity.” Discuss.
Mary Shelley’s petrifying epistolary, ‘Frankenstein’, parades the character Victor Frankenstein who, through his selfish and pathetic actions conforms to a form of monstrosity that enacts dire consequences for those around him. Shelley comes from the time of the Enlightenment, a time in which logical thinking prevailed and great advancements were made in all fields of society, hence why Shelley sets her novel in the time of exploration, the late 18th century. The society she constructs in the novel, aims to criticize Shelley’s society at the time of writing, as during her time many advancements overlooked humanity and pushed the boundaries of nature. She conveys the concept of traditional monstrosity among humans through Victor, whose obsessive personality leads him to isolation and a disregard for responsibility, making him a monster. Essentially Victor is an example for the people of Shelley’s time, an example of what could be, as through his actions, he morphs into a larger wretch than that he created.
Shelley’s harsh criticism of Victor’s obsessive behavior highlights the damaging effect he has and how it makes him a monster. In the beginning of the novel Victor is humble and curious in his “passion for learning”, he sets out to discover “unknown powers” and enlighten humanity by uncovering the “mysteries of creation”, however progresses into a perverse obsession over his work and in the “pursuit of knowledge”. Here Shelley is able to illustrate the monstrous effects of ambition, one of the driving factors to Victor’s demise, although It is not solely his fault. Victor’s aspiration is guided by his professors, friends and family, who lead him down his dreaded path. For example, Mr. Waldman, who was of the “greatest benevolence” towards Victor and through his interest in Victor he inspired and pushed Victor to “banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable.” When reflecting on his past, Shelley shows that Victor knew his fate, even though it came from “the spirit of good” it made no difference, as Victor’s “destiny was too potent”. Throughout the novel Victor strives to achieve his selfish goal - unfathomable knowledge and it is due to this goal that we see him become a monster.
Though Victor was the creator of the creature, he fails to take responsibility of it and the further repercussions it has, and as a result he allows innocents and family to die. Shelley condemns this act of monstrosity and regardless of the deaths that pile up, Victor does not adhere to his duties. Frankenstein caused the deaths of his...