How Does Mary Shelley Persuade the Reader to Pity Frankenstein’s Creature?

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“Sympathy for the Devil?”
How does Mary Shelley persuade the reader to pity Frankenstein’s Creature?

Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818. At that time, the Gothic Horror genre was becoming increasingly popular. The Gothic Horror genre combined the genres of horror and romance and is often associated with dark castles, murder and monsters. The idea for the novel came about during a dream while Shelley and her husband Percy were staying with Lord Byron. She then used that dream as a basis for a story for a ghost story competition. At the time, the Industrial Revolution was occurring and science was being developed. Scientists carried out experiments with electricity, trying to bring frogs back to life. Shelley visited an alchemist’s castle in the Rock of Franks where she was inspired by the alchemy. Two of Shelley’s daughters had died which influenced her to make the novel about life and death. She would relate to Frankenstein in the novel as members of both their families die young when it is not their fault. She was brought up with writers as her parents wrote about politics and society and her husband Percy Shelley and friend Lord Byron were both romantic poets. The main themes of the novel are creation, rejection, jealousy, power and misuse of it, revenge and responsibility. A film of the novel, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was released in 1994.

Chinese Box Narrative is used to structure the story. The structure helps you feel sympathy for the creature as you hear three points of view – Walton the explorer, Frankenstein and the creature. As the creature’s point of view is last, you feel sympathy for him because you first hear Frankenstein’s point of view and feel negatively towards the creature, however when you hear the creature’s point of view after that, you think that Frankenstein is exaggerating and you feel sorry for the creature and what Frankenstein has done to it.

Victor Frankenstein is a scientist who is fascinated by creation. He decides to use his knowledge of science to create a human being. However, when his creation comes to life, Frankenstein is horrified by it and becomes ill. Meanwhile, the creature escapes into the woods. When Frankenstein returns home, he discovers that his brother, William, has been murdered. His adopted sister Justine is wrongly convicted of the murder and executed. The creature meets up with Frankenstein and demands that he makes him a female creature so he is no longer lonely. However, Frankenstein can’t forgive the creature for the deaths of William and Justine so half way through creating the female creature he destroys it. The creature takes revenge by killing Frankenstein’s wife Elizabeth and his best friend Henry Clerval. Frankenstein goes travelling to try and hunt the creature down. He comes across a ship in the Arctic where he tells the captain his story. However, on the ship he becomes ill and dies. The creature finds Frankenstein dead and travels towards the Pole to destroy himself.

Victor Frankenstein was interested in science from a young age. When he goes to study at the University of Ingolstadt, he developed a further interest in chemistry and became obsessed with the idea of creating life artificially. “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.” This shows that Frankenstein wanted to be able to control life and death by breaking through the bounds of it and “…pour a torrent of light into our dark world” could mean he wants to do something good for the world connected to life and death, for example, being able to stop death or being able to bring someone back to life. “The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.” This shows that Frankenstein wanted to find out about the world and its...
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