Humanity In Victor Frankenstein’s Monster
Uploaded by Galaghard on Sep 24, 2002
What happens to a person when he is borne unto a world, is taught its culture, values and norms, and then through a series of experiences, realizes that despite the presence of others, that he is totally unlike them and that he is truly externally and internally alone? In many respects, Mary Shelly’s monster in her short story, “Frankenstein,” addresses this.
In birth, the creature is described near the beginning of chapter four of the first volume as one whose “yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath,” of one whose “hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing,” of one who had “teeth of a pearly whiteness and watery eyes that “seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set” (935). In this section, the creature is described and referred to as a man. By looking beyond the obvious difference from one actualized from Christianity’s God, a being not of human origin, one does see him as such. However, merely an image of one does not constitute his humanity, at least in most peoples’ view. His external image becomes, as Cynthia Hamberg states in her web page on her description of him, as “the cause of all his problems” because “[p]eople are frightened when they see him, which keeps […] him from making contact with them” (“My Hideous Progeny: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein – Character Descriptions”). And so, as he is brought into the world of the living, he already is externally differentiated and is set up to be ostracized and be set at the margins because of his physical difference. With relation to “true” human beings, one only needs to look to oneself and recall those moments of loneliness when one felt estranged because of lack of physical relation with others, whether with others of one’s sex, body type, skin color, or other physical feature, to get an inkling of the creature’s forthcoming feelings and emotions. And if not with one self, then to those many people with physical “ambiguities” and disabilities who feel betrayed, shunned and criticized for not being like the norm. This disdainful dejection that Frankenstein’s monster feels consequential to his general public’s (his creator, the De Lacey’s, Clerval, and others he encounters) refusal to accept him because of his appearance (because of fear) and often times also because of their association of him with the...