Mary Shelley’s life influenced her novel greatly. For example, her mother died shortly after giving birth to Mary and as we can see she incorporates this idea into this novel. Furthermore this novel incorporates the theory of Luigi Galvani who believed that he had discovered electricity in human limbs. This novel is about a doctor by the name of Victor Frankenstein who is obsessed at the possibility of creating an artificial life.
The ‘monster’ created from discarded human limbs is later rejected for its ugliness and inhumanity. The creature, unwanted, untutored in normal human behaviour and finally driven away by rejection to a murderous revenge on Frankenstein and his family. With this happening to the monster throughout the novel, Mary Shelley created the affect on us the reader of sympathy and concern towards the monster. By examining this novel, I will try to uncover how Mary Shelley makes us, the reader, sympathise with the monster.
Firstly I will look at the relationship between the monster and Victor and how that makes us sympathetic towards the creature. When Victor comes across the monster for the first time he describes the monster with the words ‘its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes’, this instantly shows the reader that there is a lack of sympathy towards the monster. What’s more the use of ‘unearthly’ is stating that the monster is unnatural, absurd and meaningless. Mary Shelley carefully chose words with evil connotations to emphasise Victor’s hatred, such as Victor’s name calling of the monster, ‘devil’, ‘daemon’ and ‘vile insect’ all emphasise Victor’s hatred towards the creature.
If Mary Shelley portrayed Victor in a different light and for him to act frightened, anxious and nervous when talking to the monster then that would probably make us take pity on Victor because he is afraid of his creation. However because Mary Shelley portrays Victor’s reaction to the monster to be completely the opposite of being scared, the reader feels they have to sympathise with the monster as it is Victor who is acting like the monster.
In one example of analysis, Mary Shelley uses the metaphor of Adam and Eve to develop our sympathy with the monster. She has the monster say to Victor, on the sea of ice, ‘Remember I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.’ Here the monster is stating that Victor needs to take responsibility for what he has created. Victor is supposed to be playing God, however God stood by his creations whereas Victor has just abandoned his. The monster wants to shame Victor into taking responsibility for the lives that were lost. Hence, Shelley is stating that the monster has been abandoned by Victor which increases our sympathy towards the monster.
Mary Shelley creates a contrast between Victor and the monster whilst they speak for the first time. These two reactions are completely the opposite. Whilst Victor has feelings of bitter anguish, and he somewhat loathes the monster as he describes the monster with words such as ‘wretched devil’, ‘daemon’. Here Mary Shelley chose words with evil connotations to emphasise Victor’s detestation of the monster. This increases our sympathy towards the monster as the name calling from Victor is proving that his emotions appear more like the monsters.
Whereas the monsters reaction towards Victor is completely different as the monster is calm and collective and he expected the reaction he got off Victor as his first words to Victor were ‘I expected this reaction’. This shows that the monster is intellectual as he was aware of the reaction he received from Victor. In addition to that whilst the monster is talking to Victor on the sea of ice the monster appears to be reflective and sad from the time when he says ‘You purpose to kill me’ up until ‘Do your duty towards me’ these words that Mary Shelley wrote increases our sympathy towards the monster because these words spoken by the monster verify the fact that it is Victor who is acting as the monster.
Mary Shelley includes the theme of nature/nurture into her novel to increase our sympathy with the monster because by nature he is naturally a sensitive, composed creature underneath his deceptive manner. Although he strives to portray himself as a well-mannered being, the evil side in him seeks to overcome this. However as the monster hasn’t been nurtured by Victor he doesn’t realise the extent of his behaviour. If Victor stood by his creation and taught him right from wrong then he would know good from evil. On the other hand because Victor neglected him he’s resentful of Victor and seeks to gain revenge which eventually leads to the murder of one of Victor’s family.
Mary Shelley’s intention with the affect of nature/nurture is that nature is instinctive and needs to be nurtured to bring out the better alternatives. I feel as if I have learnt a lot from the novel Frankenstein because I think that people shouldn’t act in the way in which Victor did because everybody should be treated the same no matter what they look like. Also if people get treated badly like in the way in which the monster did we don’t actually realise how it will affect them. Mary Shelley intended to make Victor look like the real monster and Shelley achieves this by making Victor’s emotions get the better of him. In addition to that Shelley also intended us, the reader to sympathise with the monster; she achieves this by portraying Victor as the monster and makes him treat the monster inadequately.