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Monstrosity in Frankenstein
Transcript of Monstrosity in Frankenstein
Revenge is the Mother of Monstrosity
It is easy to consider the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, “the best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury." However, as the novel exemplifies, it isn’t so easy to avoid making foolish decisions and take a breather before committing to hasty actions. The theme that revenge brings more vengeance, hence initiates moods of insanity and monstrosity, is present in both Frankenstein and the creature.
Loneliness Invents Monstrosity
Throughout the novel, both the creature and Victor Frankenstein exhibit lost ties with the rest of society. While already provoked by revenge to indulge in any action to harm another, loneliness catalyzes the two individuals’ imprudent actions and further forms them into monsters that only live to destruct. Though easy to believe that monstrosity inside the creature is greater than that of Frankenstein as natural inclinations of befriending was utterly rejected, monstrosity inside Frankenstein is in fact unparalleled to any as his solitude was voluntary. Already, Shelley’s underlying message that monstrosity is acquired, not innate, is exemplified through segregation which serves as an impetus for growing monstrosity.
The Dangerous Yearn for Knowledge
Consumed by the obsession of gaining knowledge beyond that of any man, Frankenstein indulges into actions that envision him as a madman. Though yearning for knowledge is an often encouraged characteristic, Shelley uses Frankenstein to display that relentless curiosity only leaves behind monstrosity. From the incidents in which Frankenstein exhibits persistent willingness to learn laws of science and internally evolves into a monster, one can realize that truly monstrosity results from Frankenstein’s challenge to god by creating life.
In Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, monstrosity is a theme that appears to be evident in both the creature and Frankenstein yet the author’s intentions remain covert.
By conveying the message that monstrosity is not an inherent characteristic, but instead one created through inexorable revenge, prolonged seclusion and perilous want of knowledge, Shelley uses the notion of monstrosity as a guide to instruct that one should not challenge the realm of god.
What is "Monstrosity"?
Before delving deeply into the omnipresent theme of monstrosity in Frankenstein, it is crucial to first appreciate the true definition of the word.
By DongSeok Koh
What first comes into your mind when you think of the word monster?
A hideous creature with 3 arms and no eyes that lives in the sewers?
Or a 10 feet tall gigantic being covered in fur that lurks in the snowy mountains?
Of course, when thinking of this word “monster”, most people will likely refer to supernatural beings, an aberrant biological occurrence that does not concur with the natural order.
However, when considering the root of the word, its interpretation becomes slightly different...
The word monster in fact derives from the Latin 'monere', which not only means to warn, but also to instruct, forming the basis of the word demonstrate.
The benign representation that the monster is a sign or instruction was proposed by Saint Augustine who saw a monster as a deliberate error.
As the characters reveal malicious intentions concerned with revenge, it is evident that they become less and less aware of other factors to life such as love and companionship. Instead, Frankenstein and the creature fervently show their willingness to fight another with malevolence. Exemplifying the notion that revenge aroused from Frankenstein's action that challenged the realm of god causes monstrosity, Shelley intends to instruct that one should not follow Frankenstein's foolish actions.
Because of their isolation with the rest of society, Frankenstein and the creature lack the aid of other people who would steer their lives from the destructiveness that they chose. Again, as the alienation of Frankenstein results from his formulation of the creature and the isolation of the creature arises from his birth, the novel presents to the readers that monstrosity, intensified by remoteness, occurs due to man’s insensible challenge to god.
“That cannot be; but all that I can say will be of little avail. My revenge is of no moment to you; yet, while I allow it to be a vice, I confess that it is the devouring and only passion of my soul. My rage is unspeakable, when I reflect that the murderer, whom I have turned loose upon society, still exists.You refuse my just demand: I have but one resource; and I devote myself, either in my life or death, to his destruction.” (Shelley, 26)
"Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery. (Shelley, 123)
"Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy--to him towards whom I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be my first victim." (Shelley, 131)
"You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains -- revenge, henceforth dearer than light of food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery." (Shelley, 158)
"'Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.’" (Shelley, 86)
"'I am alone and miserable: man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.'" (Shelley, 133)
With everlasting curiosity engulfing Frankenstein, the monster inside him only grew bigger. As a result of the want of knowledge that defied natural order where life was created from inanimate objects, the developing monstrosity inside Frankenstein led him to destruction.
“‘I have good dispositions; my life has been hitherto harmless and in some degree beneficial; but a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster.’” (Shelley, 114)
"'I must absent myself from all I loved while thus employed. Once commenced, it would quickly be achieved, and I might be restored to my family in peace and happiness.'" (Shelley, 184)
"'When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?'" (Shelley, 141)
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"'Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.'" (Shelley, 53)
"While my companion contemplated with a serious and satisfied spirit the magnificent appearances of things, I delighted in investigating their causes. 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" (Shelley 25)
As the characters in the novel Frankenstein compellingly evince, monstrosity is not an inherent characteristic but one that is acquired through belligerent revenge, extensive isolation and dangerous curiosity. By applying this trait not only to the monster but also to Frankenstein, Shelley demonstrates that true monstrosity not lies in the outer physical appearance but exists in the minds full of obsessive malignant intentions. Referring back to the root of the word monster, monere (to instruct), Shelley uses the theme of monstrosity throughout the book to instruct the readers that challenging the realm of god only leaves one with monstrosity and destruction.