How does Shelley characterize Victor, tracing his changes from Chapter 1-10 and what are Victor's conflicts from Chapter 1 -10?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Characterization and conflict are demonstrated in one passage in chapter ten of Shelley's Frankenstein.  The creature is confronting Victor and is about to take over as narrator of the novel and tell Victor his history since his creation.  The creature is pleading with Victor:

"How can I move thee?  Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion?"  (84)

But Victor shows no compassion and takes no responsibility.  Before the creature takes over the narrative but after he implores Victor for compassion, Victor responds to him:

"Why do you call to my remembrance," I rejoined, "circumstances of which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin and author?  Cursed be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first saw light!  Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that formed you!  You have made me wretched beyond expression.  You have left me no power to consider whether I am just to you or not.  Begone!  Relieve me from the sight of your detested form."  (85)

Victor here is revealed to have judged and still to be judging the creature based on his appearance--he is bigotted and prejudiced, as well as shallow.  He also refuses to take responsibility for his own actions.  The creature makes a moving plea for goodness and compassion, but Victor displays none:  characterization is revealed concerning Victor. 

Victor's conflicts, one might think, would be internal.  He should be concerned about his role in the creation of the creature and his current role in the present.  But he isn't.  He decided long ago. 

Victor's conflict, as revealed in this passage, is external:  man vs. man, if you need to define it.  From this point on in the novel, the conflict for Victor becomes personal, and his personal conflict with the creature will grow until it becomes his obsession.


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