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How does Victor react to the monster throughout the novel and why?"Frankenstein" by...

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hayleyrocks1994 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 10, 2010 at 2:43 AM via web

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How does Victor react to the monster throughout the novel and why?

"Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 10, 2010 at 2:58 AM (Answer #1)

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In Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," Victor relates his history and describes his obsession with his "secret toil':

My limbs now tremble and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic, impulse urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit....and I shunned my fellow-creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime. (3)

Then, on a "dreary" night in November, he completes his experiement.  The "wretch" which he has created has limbs in proportion and Victor selected what he believed were beautiful features.  However, when life enters the being, when movement comes to the "watery eyes, the yellow skin that barely covered the work of muscles," Victor is absolutely horrified, fleeing the room, digust filling his heart.

As he attempts sleep, Victor is distrubed by his dreams; he thinks of Elizabeth as she walks in the streets of Ingolstadt.  When he embraces her and kisses her, her lips become "livid with the hue of death" as she turns into his dead mother's corpse, with worms crawling out of it.  Then, when the "demonical corpse" to which he has given life enters, it holds out its hand to Victor, while a grin "wrinkled" its cheeks.  But, repulsed by the horror of its face, Victor does not understand or recognize the loving recognition of the newborn for its parent; instead, he rushes out of his dwelling and seeks refuge in the courtyard:

A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch.  I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived. (3)

As the narrative continues, Victor essays to erase the memory of his terrible creation.  But, when his little brother is murdered, he realizes that his family has paid for his sin:

Did any one indeed exist, except I, the creator, who would believe, unless his senses convinced him, in the existence of the living monument of presumption and rash ignorance which I had let loose upon the world? (7)

When Victor encounters his creation, he reproaches it,

'Devil,...do you dare approach me?  and do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head?  Begone, vile insect! or rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust!and, on! that I could with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered! (10)

To this, the being relates his own history and tells Victor that he, having been rejected by humans, wishes to have a bride.  If he has someone who will not be horrified by him and reject him, Frankestein's creation promises to not bring further harm to Victor's family.  Victor agrees; nevertheless, he is later filled with shame and horror that he may unleash a second monster, so he destroys the new creature. Promising revenge, the "daemon" vows to be with Victor on his wedding night.  Then, Victor's friend is strangled.

Still Victor cannot bring himself to disclose his terrrible secret to anyone.  Yet, words woul "burst uncontrollably" from him.  For instance, he tells his father,

I am the assassin of those most innocent victims; they died by my machinations. (22)

Truly, Victor Frankenstein is wretched with his guilt, and tortured by the "imperious voice of wretchedness, which sometimes desired to declare itself to the whole world...," but he cannot bring himself to confess his crime against Nature.

 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 10, 2010 at 3:19 AM (Answer #2)

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I think that different people will feature different reactions to this question.  Much of it is based on how they see Victor.  If Victor is seen in a positive light, it can be argued that Victor sees the destruction of the monster as his responsibility.  This line of logic would argue that Victor is pursuing his share of responsibility in seeking to destroy it.  If others see him in a negative light, then I believe that the argument is that Victor is responsible for creating the monster and, rather than trying to destroy it, he should accept his primary responsibility for the monster, his creation.  This line of argument sees Victor as being "the creator" and has a moral and ethical responsibility to look after and guide his creation.  In abandoning the monster and the repulsed by what it did, causing him to seek revenge on it, Victor forsake the monster and should bear responsibility for his actions.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 10, 2010 at 8:49 AM (Answer #3)

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In Summary:

Birth: Victor cannot digest nor understand his creation and his first reaction is rejection, particularly as he sees that in a way the creature is trying to imprint and get affection from his creator.

Development: Victor goes through life leading a double life as a righteous person while his creation goes about trying to find himself. This denotes extreme irresponsibility and callousness.

Encounter: Victor denotes his weakness of character and his lack of manhood as his creature finally faces him and demands better treatment. The entire time Victor feels nearly nauseous to deal with his own creation. It is, perhaps, a reflection on how he feels about himself.

Extension: As he is trying to build a female counterpart for his creation, Victor realizes the insanity of it all, and he feels regret for his actions. This is a horrible situation because now Victor is repeating the entire scenario twice. As he is trying to make this happen, his disgust takes the best of him.

Finality: Victor is now the victim of his genius. He IS a genius, yet, he is also a victim. He is far away now at the mercy of the creature, and he is as lonely and helpless as he could be. He is a sad victim of intelligence.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted January 10, 2010 at 2:53 AM (Answer #4)

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In the book "Frankenstein" Victor had intended to create the perfect being, but instead he created a vile creature whose existence he deplores.  He tries to distance himself form the creature, but he knows ht he is tied to its existence.  Initially he tries to teach the creature.  He intends to make him react and act more normal.  Victor has no patience in developing the creature.  Victor pulls away more and more until he abandons the creature.  Victor realizes far too late the error of his greed and sets out on a quest to find and destroy his creation.  It is Victor who is destroyed.  He becomes ill while in search of the creature and dies.


"I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body.  For this I deprived myself of rest and health.  I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." (156)

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