“Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein’s Creature, described by Mary Shelley, is a controversial figure in the literature. In a manner, Shelley uses the Creature as a proxy for humanity to demonstrate how the Monster’s creation by Frankenstein is similar to humanity’s creation by God. According to Heringman (2019), the novel under discussion creates “a paradigm that destabilizes the boundaries between human and nonhuman animals, and even between living and nonliving matter” (p. 128). Therefore, Shelley illustrates the world with no significant factual differences between the species that inhabit it; in other words, the world where humans are not atop everything. The Creature was not created by God, but by a man, yet he can learn as humans do, obtaining new skills and knowledge, he can feel and be emotional (Shelley, 1992). Everything mentioned above is what makes humans different from other animals, and Frankenstein erases those differences.
The Creature’s maker, Victor Frankenstein, changes his opinion whether his creation is a human or not throughout the story. At first, Victor’s goal was to create a human being, but he later concludes that the Creature is nonhuman (Shelley, 1992). However, the Creature further demonstrates individual and social development, which raises the question of whether humanity emerged from or degenerated into animality (Heringman, 2019). Heringman (2019) claims that the Creature sees human extinction as a condition that makes his existence possible, whereas Victor believes that the Creature’s existence may be the reason for human extinction. Nonetheless, they understand the same thing from different viewpoints: the viewpoint of the Creature and the viewpoint of its Creator. Victor and the Creature both conclude that there is no place for the Creature in the human world.
In a manner, Shelley’s novel demonstrates humanity’s fears of their own specificities that cannot be seen without using a particular example. Throughout the story, the Creature becomes more and more humane as he learns from Frankenstein what it is to be a human. The essential thing that the Creature comprehends is love and family connections, which become apparent when he asks Victor to create a woman for him (Shelley, 1992). When Victor realizes the potential consequences of such a union, he destroys the woman’s body, becoming a target for the Creature’s anger and fury (Shelley, 1992). That is the moment in the novel when Victor and the Creature understand what it means to be a human and how dangerous it is. Victor cannot forgive the Creature for his deeds, and the Creature cannot forgive himself as well, demonstrating that they are factually the same since the Creature has inherited Victor’s character and knowledge. Although Victor seems to blame the Creature for losing all his family, factually, he blames himself for his creation.
Analyzing the Creature through the novel, a reader can see his personal development primarily inherent to humans. As per the words of Captain Walton, the Creature presents a “savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island” (Shelley, 1992, p. 21). However, that definition is not appropriate as the Creature further proves to have everything that allows people to call themselves humans and makes them different from animals (Heringman, 2019). The Creature learns to speak and read, observes human nature, and inherits it, becoming a human of the full value in many respects (Shelley, 1992). He learns how to be a human relatively fast, yet in the end, he understands that it is an unenviable fate.
Heringman, N. (2019). Science and human animality in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The Wordsworth Circle, 50(1), 127-145.
Shelley, M. W. (1992). Frankenstein; or, the modern Prometheus. Wordsworth Classics.