Frankenstein: Victim or Villain

Topics: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Life Pages: 8 (3240 words) Published: May 26, 2012
Mary Shelley’s ability to create such multidimensional characters in Frankenstein proves that writing is a powerful tool that has the ability to provoke vastly different opinions amongst readers. Even though each individual reading the story is reading the exact same words, their interpretation of those words often leads to opposing views in regards to the fate of the characters. The creature, in particular, has been a popular topic of discussion when conducting a close read of the novel due to his arguable versatility as a victim and villain. The concept of the villain has evolved over the years, however its basis still rests upon the simple fact that as a character in the story, their actions are a result of malicious intentions ultimately negatively impacting the other characters in the story; that is they are the antagonist. Whether it is Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet, the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz, Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, or Victor Frankenstein in Frankenstein, all villains possess certain traits that classify them in this category as the “evil-doers”. Villains are usually selfish, lack remorse, unbelievably obsessed with achieving their goals regardless of the repercussions of their actions, and solely concerned with attaining power. Conversely, the victims of these stories: Romeo and Juliet, Dorothy, Harry Potter and the creature, respectively, become a part of the collateral damage that results from the actions of the villains. This holds true for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in the sense that the creature is a victim of circumstances, always having to react to the selfish actions of his creator Victor Frankenstein. The creature’s journey and fate render him a victim in this story based on the following criteria: he is essentially an orphan abandoned by his creator; his “evil” actions are driven by his yearning for love, not revenge; his actions are not malevolent as there are a reaction to the evil acts of Victor; and he feels remorse about the lives he took, proving his compassionate nature, a trait that is not present in any villain.

The creature’s birth is probably the most crucial event in the story, for the simple fact that in hindsight, had it turned out differently, the creature and Victor could have evolved into completely different people and perhaps altered the fate of the other characters. The birth marks the beginning of the creature’s long journey as a victim. Although the birth is not natural, in any sense, he is still essentially a newborn. With this in mind, it is easy to see that the creature’s actions are misguided because he is lacking a proper understanding of the world. “Perhaps if Victor had valued the life he created—and helped the monster at this critical moment—he would have prevented most (if not all) of the devastation that follows”, (175) explains Lunsford. This is very insightful in regards to the creature’s role in the story. He is the innocent offspring of a science experiment and Victor’s lack of attention to his upbringing sets him up for a form of failure. As Lunsford expresses, attention to the creature after his conception and birth could have altered the events of the story and possibly saved Justine, Elizabeth, and William. The creature is a victim because his father leaves him and he must fend for himself. He possesses the innocence and vulnerability of a child and this is a pitiable situation. Children that are raised without one parent are often considered to be at a disadvantage, however the creature’s situation goes even further than this; he only has one true parent, who immediately abandons him at birth. It is natural to feel a sense of sympathy for orphans, however due to the creature’s physical appearance and actions later on in the story, readers often find it hard to think of him in this manner. This, however, is where the issue lies. It is important to understand that although the creature is made up of adult parts, his personality is...
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