In Frankenstein, Victor takes a very negative view of his creation, describing him as a “demoniacal corpse” (59) and a “depraved wretch” (78). Why is this? From the outset, Dr Frankenstein...

In Frankenstein, Victor takes a very negative view of his creation, describing him as a “demoniacal corpse” (59) and a “depraved wretch” (78). Why is this?

From the outset, Dr Frankenstein takes a very negative view of his creation, describing him as a “demoniacal corpse” (59) and a “depraved wretch” (78). Why do you think Frankenstein‟s response to his creature is so negative (asides from the fact that it is obviously very ugly)?

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dmwebst eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The edition I like to consult for Frankenstein is: Frankenstein:(2nd edition) the original 1818 text. This edition was edited by D.L. MacDonald and Kathleen Sherf, and includes an introduction that gives readers possible sources for the "story, behind the story." MacDonald and Sherf credit much of Shelly's inspiration to the works of John Milton: Paradise Lost and Erasmus Darwin, grandfather to Charles Darwin, and author of The Temple of Nature; or The Origin of Society. Mary Shelley makes mention of Paradise Lost in her preface to the novel and was also well versed in Darwin's epic poem.

Now, to the heart of the answer: Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, is Mary Shelley's contribution to the discussion of creation vs. evolution. Shelley had been plagued by dreams of her dead infant appearing as a reanimated being (preface 11). That image, combined with the dreary nights spent swapping ghost friends around the fireplace and the nightmares that resulted from them, became the inspiration for her monster.

Frankenstein is fasciated with the "spark"(84) that created life. When he discovers the secret of how to "animate the lifeless clay" (82) he becomes the modern Prometheus who creates a man, and then arms him with the key (fire) to becoming a developed society.  

After he brings the monster to life, his focus is redirected to the impact his creation will have on society. He takes a hard look at what he has done, and understands that he has stepped into the role of God. Therefore, he must bear the blame for whatever damage his creation causes. Although alive, the monster is an incomplete copy of man; thus, it has no soul. So it follows, that the actions of a soulless being would probably be troublesome.

Frankenstein's negative reaction is the result of his coming to the realization that he has introduced an unholy element to the world. The "demonic corpse" reference comes from the fact that the soulless (demonic) monster was composed of stolen body (corpse) parts. The "depraved wretch," is referring to the idea that the monster cannot control his destructive behavior.He is "depraved" (corrupt, evil) because he was man-made and not God-created, and "wretched" (miserable,inferior) because he is hopeless.  No soul, no conscience- or so Frankenstein believes.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter four of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor defines his complete obsession with the success at reanimating life. Victor, to this point in the novel, has ignored everything around him (even his own health and family). For Victor, nothing but his "son" matters.

A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs.

Essentially, Victor was completely and utterly enamored with the idea of bringing a new life into the world. This is where his similarity to a mother ends. Unlike a natural mother, Victor had control over every element of his child's existence.

Unlike a "natural" mother, Victor took control over the exact appearance of his son. It is not until his son comes to life that readers are given the exact pains Victor took to insure his son's beauty.

His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!—Great God!

Victor, unlike a mother who must wait to see her child's proportions upon birth, is able to choose each part. That said, while each part may have been beautiful on its own, the combination of the parts resulted in ugliness.

Therefore, while one can readily accept the ugliness of the creature, Victor's negativity does not only come from his dissatisfaction of how his son looks. Instead, one could justify that Victor's reaction to his son is based upon his inability to create the "perfect" child. The being is far from perfect, far from the image Victor had. Based upon this, he finds his creature to be ugly, far from the child he desired. Victor's quest for Forbidden Knowledge left him fearful and aware of his crime against nature.

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