What makes the Creature human?Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Although he has been created in a scientific laboratory and left on his own, Frankenstein's creature becomes truly human because he possesses emotions and thoughts that are intrinsically human.  For instance, in the creature's recounting of his experiences, he tells Victor that he came upon a small hut from which an old man fled after seeing him.  He wanders into another cottage, but is repelled by stones and other "missile weapons." Finally, he finds refuge in a small sty, but he is hidden from "the barbarity of man." Then, one day he observes a young woman and man.

The poignancy and sensitivity with which the creature relates his observations of the DeLacey family, the benevolence of the old man and the despondence of the young man, the affection and kindness of the lovely creatures is, indeed, an indication of the human feelings and longings that he possesses.  In fact, the creature experiences a maturation in his feelings:

"This trait of kindness moved me sensibly.  I had been accustomed, during the night, to steal a part of their store for my own consumption; but when I found that in doing this I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained, and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots, which I gathered from a neighboring wood."

“I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to assist their labours. I found that the youth spent a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire; and during the night, I often took his tools, the use of which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days.

From listening to the cottagers, the creature learns to speak.  He also endeavors to bring happiness to the residents of the cottage.  But, when he sees his reflection, the creature wonders how he will accomplish his goal.  Nevertheless, his feelings are strong, and in his loneliness he desires to be in communion with the cottagers, certainly a human need, but not one he can share. He tells Victor,

 I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling; but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death—a state which I feared yet did not understand. I admired virtue and good feelings, and loved the gentle manners and amiable qualities of my cottagers; but I was shut out from intercourse with them, except through means which I obtained by stealth, when I was unseen and unknown, and which rather increased than satisfied the desire I had of becoming one among my fellows. The gentle words of Agatha, and the animated smiles of the charming Arabian were not for me. The mild exhortations of the old man, and the lively conversation of the loved Felix, were not for me. Miserable, unhappy wretch!

Certainly, the characteristics of wishing to alleviate the suffering of others, to share in the happiness of others, and alleviate his own pain and tormented conditions are indications of the creature's humanity.

   

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