How could have Victor Frankenstein helped his monster to be accepted into society in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein?

1 Answer | Add Yours

kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

One could suppose that a key to helping Victor Frankenstein's creation receive acceptance into polite society would have been for the young, emotionally and intellectually immature (although clearly quite brilliant) scientist to have accepted the fruits of his formidable labors himself. Instead, as the events of Chapter Five of Mary Shelley's classic of Gothic literature, Frankenstein, illustrate, Victor recoiled in horror at his creation, and deliberately drove it away. Read, for instance, the following passages from the novel:

". . .a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch— the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me."

. . .

"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."

It was Victor's reflexive rejection of his creation that set in motion the tragic chain of events that followed. Had Victor not reacted the way he did to the sight of his own handwork, it is entirely possible that the creature's acceptance into society could have been ensured through the careful manipulation of subsequent events, very similar to the way Frederick Treves claimed to have introduced John Merrick, the "elephant man," to the acceptable world. There was, however, a subsequent opportunity for the creature to find acceptance, and that was described by the creature itself in Chapter 11. Having happened upon a poor but close family consisting of an old man, a young man, and a young woman, the latter two lovingly caring for the former, the creature hopes, from his hidden vantage, to ingratiate himself into their company. He is a social being, and abhors the loneliness to which Victor's rejection of him has seemingly condemned him. When this family similarly recoils in horror at his appearance, however, the die is cast. The creature harbors no further illusions that he will ever be accepted into society.

So, what could Victor have done differently? Well, as Mel Brooks' adaptation of Shelley's novel, Young Frankenstein, indicated, dressing the creature up in black tie and tails, top hat included, and performing a public rendition of "Puttin' on the Ritz" could work, although it actually failed in Brooks' film, truth be told. Public rejection of physically hideous forms likely would have condemned the creature to social ostracism irrespective of any hypothetical efforts on Victor's part. A different outcome, however, could have been possible had Victor not summarily rejected his own creation and instead gradually but assuredly introduced the creature into society by starting, as Treves claimed to have done with the "elephant man," within the more insulated and educated confines of the medical academic world. Victor was, after all, studying the physical sciences, and such an introduction would have been a good start.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,982 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question