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In Frankenstein, what does Victor (as creator) feel he owes the creature?

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litlloo3 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 22, 2011 at 6:37 AM via web

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In Frankenstein, what does Victor (as creator) feel he owes the creature?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 22, 2011 at 9:12 AM (Answer #1)

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In Victor's first true encounter with the monster, in Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor feels no love for his "son".  Instead of embracing his creation, Victor rebukes the creature.

“Abhorred monster! fiend that thou art! the tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched
devil! you reproach me with your creation; come on, then, that I may extinguish the spark which I so
negligently bestowed.”

Victor then charges the monster in a deadly rage only to be sidestepped by the creature. The monster requests of Victor to listen to him before he enacts his "hatred on my devoted head". Victor refuses by saying that they are nothing more than enemies and if the creature does not leave the a fight will ensue.

In pleading with Victor to hear him out, the monster questions what it will take for Victor to "turn a favorable eye upon thy creature". The monster asks Victor to hear his story and after, and only after, if he has not changed his mind about his feelings towards him will the monster allow Victor to "destroy the work of his hands".

Victor's reaction to the monster's request is one in which Victor curses the day upon which the monster "first saw light". Victor again tells the monster to leave him upon which the monster relinquishes Victor of any responsibility regarding his creation or to him as a being. Regardless of the ownership the monster releases Victor from, the monster still requests that Victor hears his story so that he can offer him the one and only thing he desires in life: compassion.

After the monster's heartfelt reply, Victor agrees to hear the monster out. Victor admits to readers why he agrees to hear the tale of his creation:

As he said this, he led the way across the ice: I followed. My heart was full, and I did not answer him; but as I proceeded, I weighed the various arguments that he had used, and determined at least to listen to his tale. I was partly urged by curiosity, and compassion confirmed my resolution. I had hitherto supposed him to be the
murderer of my brother, and I eagerly sought a confirmation or denial of this opinion. For the first time, also, I felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness. These motives urged me to comply with his demand.

This passage, from the end of Chapter 10, shows exactly what Victor regards as his duties to the monster of his creation.

After Victor has listened to the monster's tale, Victor continues to feel no compassion for the monster. This is compounded by the fact that the monster asks Victor to create a mate for him. Victor blatantly refuses the monster's request stating that the joined couple will "desolate the world".

After being threatened by the monster for his refusal, Victor begins to contemplate the request- but, only because the monster requests happiness; happiness that will only come from the promise of gaining sympathy from another being.

Victor seems to be caught between his hatred for the monster as a physical object and his love for the monster as a feeling and emotional being. Therefore, his duties as the monster's creator also struggle to find a place in Victor's mind.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 22, 2011 at 9:09 AM (Answer #2)

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Victor feels a sense of duty to the creature in the beginning as a parent feels toward a child. However, when the creature gains life, Victor runs in complete and total fear.

By the time the two meet again, Victor spends much time listening to the creature's eloquently delivered life story. It is at this point that the least Victor feels like he can do is give the creature happiness after all that the creature has been through because Victor created him. It is in this moment of guilt that Victor promises to create a mate as this should produce such happiness.

However, Victor breaks his promise and refuses to create a mate after considering the impact on society of monsters on the loose. This debt that Victor feels he owed the monster is central to the story in considering taking responsibility for actions. It also demonstrates that every decision made reaps a consequence.

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