Mount Saint Vincent University
Man or Monster
The Nature of Frankenstein’s Creature
Professor Graham Fraser
October 22, 2018
A question that often pops into one’s mind while reading through Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is ‘is the creature Victor Frankenstein created human?’. Author Mary Shelley introduces Frankenstein’s creature as an object made up of mismatched human components, who later on develops and begins to learn human language and behaviour. While anatomically he may resemble a human it is clear he cannot behave as one, despite his moments of eloquence and obvious intelligence, he always reverts to a more animalistic nature. Thinking back to the classic saying of “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it must be a duck”, he walks, talks, and looks like a human, regardless of how grotesque and malformed he may be. Yet even still I think back to those same facts - he wasn’t born and he never grew from cells. When asking someone if they think the creature is human, his looks alone may make them say no.
His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips. (Shelley 58).
Not to judge by looks alone, but he doesn’t sound particularly human. This follows the algorithm discussed in class (different = ugly = monster = fear/attack). However, one can’t say that the creature became a monster because how people treated him based on his looks. There are so many people in society who were treated poorly and outcasted who rose above
everything and became decent people. The creature doesn’t classify as human. It is difficult to discern if he has a moral compass a moral compass or not. He behaves quite a bit like a sociopath after some time - he has little regard for other’s feelings or their wellbeing, becoming very self-serving. He follows Victor and ‘removes’ the people he holds dear for his own interest - in an attempt to convince and prove a point to Victor. Even still he provides a final warning; “I shall be with you on your wedding night” (Shelley 173). Of course, Victor thinks this means the creature will be coming for him specifically.
Continuing on, if the creature can’t be classified as human or as any type of animal, where does he fit in? That’s the trouble. The creature doesn’t exactly fit in anywhere, and I believe that is part of the reason people try to say he’s human. Human’s brain’s need to categorize things to understand them. In some ways, I think of the creature as being somewhat similar to artificial intelligence and robots. AI and robots can learn, can speak. If advanced enough, they can create their own behaviours. However, ultimately, they aren’t...