I know, I know. It’s boring. But I have so much homework tonight I don’t have time for some extraordinarily entertaining blog post about llamas…. so here’s an essay I had to write for Lit class. Enjoy? Maybe?
Revenge and Morals in Frankenstein
The creature in Frankenstein is generally a gentle soul with little wish to harm others. He craves knowledge and is content with a simple lifestyle and no violence. Unfortunately, coexisting on a planet with humans makes that humble dream just that—a dream. All the creature’s encounters with humans have ended in violence: his creation (with Victor) began a life of strife, trying to enter the town left him physically and emotionally scarred, the De Lacey encounter gave him a broken and hardened heart. When the creature tried to save the girl from drowning his only reward was a bullet in the shoulder. As this accounts for every single human encounter the creature has ever had, can anyone blame him for coming to the understanding that humans are barbaric and to be avoided?
On the lines of the creature’s revenge on the humans who have wronged him, again, I think we need to look back at his history. Frankenstein’s creation has been alive for two and a half years, and in every situation he’s been in involving conflict, the immediate response is violence. Without anything but a few vague books to actually guide him in the right moral direction, he had to take his action based on life experience. It’s only natural that his first resort is, in turn, violence.
I wouldn’t necessarily justify his murder on those terms, but the background of the case certainly warrants a second look into his intentions while committing the crimes. In today’s justice system, if the murder wasn’t intended or was committed on special circumstances, the guilty party could be sentenced to fewer years in prison or at least less harsh treatment.
My recommendation is that we do the same with the creature, at least in our mental condemnation of him for his activities. Don’t excuse him for killing the children out of hate, but remind yourself that he was operating as he was taught—by humans.
Personally, my take is that revenge is never quite justified completely. There can be circumstances where the result of revenge would be easier to accept than, say, a random act of violence, but revenge really gets you nowhere. Will you suddenly feel satisfaction for killing someone who’s wronged you? Probably not. Can it change the past? No. Will it affect the future? You can bet on it. Revenge never gets you as far in life as forgiving and—well, maybe not forgetting. You don’t need to forget your history—because that’s what will happen; if you try to ignore every time someone’s done something to you, you’ll erase your past. But you don’t need to dwell on it. Let hurt become a part of your past, acknowledge there’s nothing you can do about it, and move on to your future.
Although the creature becomes violent and full of angst, early on in his existence he’s a wonderful being who thrives on intellect. Probably the biggest contributor to this is his time spent with the De Lacey family, more specifically Felix’s lessons to Safie. It’s here that the creature learns how to speak, read, and write, as well as subjects such as history, geography, and advanced literature. The creature spends his own time practicing the unfamiliar tongue and relating words to objects as to better learn the language of his “protectors”. Reading the books he found in Victor’s bag gave him insights into the world and allowed him to explore places he could never physically go. This year of knowledge was a turning point in the creature’s life. Before this, he was for the most part helpless—just a rogue beast wandering and scavenging nuts and berries. Afterwards he was a well-rounded character with a basis for morals (not to say he kept them) and a clearer view of the world he lived in. I would credit this learning experience to the creature’s emotional and intellectual growth.
He justifies his actions with the propaganda technique “logical fallacies”. The creature reasons (in a time of great stress and confusion) that this beautiful girl who would never take such a monster as her lover is somehow responsible for William’s death, because she could never provide the love the creature needed to cease his evil action. It’s deeply flawed, but any humanoid creature will do anything to avoid placing blame on themselves.
Ultimately, I believe that the creature is responsible for his own actions. Frankenstein never intended to create a murdering monster; in fact, there was probably so much doubt the experiment would work in the first place, there wasn’t much room for imagination about what the birth of a dead thing would accomplish. The monster picked his own path through life, and unfortunately it was one of tragedy and disappointment. Frankenstein may wade too far into the waters of science for his own good, but that does not make him responsible for the deaths of William and Justine.
Sorry guys, better post later. Stay epic~