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Mary Shelley's Gothic tale of a horrifying creature forged from the lightning power and a man's scientific prowess ironically points to the real horror that lies in the souls of the man who would overstep the bounds of Nature. For, it is the socially privileged and arrogant Victor Frankenstein who is the true grotesque in this Gothic narrative, not the creature who is changed by the rejection of man's society.
In a sense, the creature of Frankenstein is the natural man of whom Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote. This man, who exists in a "state of nature" in which uncorrupted morals exist. For, his first response to humans is benevolent and he feels a strong affinity to Nature. In Chapters 11 and 12 in which the creature relates his history to his creator Victor, describes the "lovely sight" of the family Delacey as they sit together in the eveinings and the old man who makes beautiful sounds emanate from an instrument:
He raised her, and smile with such kindness and affection that I felt sensations of a peculiar and overpowering nature.... such as I had never before experienced, either from hunger or cold, warmth or food; and I withdrew from the window, unable to bear these emotions.
After observing the Delaceys for some time, the creature is overcome with altruistic feelings and secretly provides them firewood at night. This act is in strong contrast to Victor's neglect of his friend Henry Clerval.
"The pleasant showers and genial warmth of spring greatly alter the aspect of the earth.....he birds sang in more cheerful notes, and the leaves began to bud forth on the trees. Happy, happy earth! fit habitation for gods, which, so short a time before, was bleak, damp, and unwholesome.
Truly, the creature is benevolent and unselfish, and, thus, is in many ways superior to Victor who has selfishly pursued science, abandoning his family by not coming forward and admitting his sin when his brother is killed, and, of course, causing the death of others as he refuses the creature's request of a companion. As Harold Bloom, the renowed critic writes,
The greatest paradox and most astonishing achievement of Mary Shelly's novel is that the monster is more human than his creator.
He is a creature who has educated himself, futilely attempting to join man's society. But, he tells Victor,
Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect....I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me.
Refused the healing comfort of other beings, the creature becomes vengeful and kills those that Victor loves, striving to hurt his creator as he has been. And, while Victor Frankenstein pursues his creature to retaliate against him, the creature at the death of Victor begs forgiveness of "his victim" after having made "evil thenceforth my good." Nevertheless, these words echo those of the dying Victor who declares,that he feels justified in "desiring the death of my adversary." But, ironically, he speaks of himself when he curses his creature. For, Victor Frankenstein, too, has made evil his good. And, that he yet does not recognize his own evil makes Victor the real grotesque of Shelley's Gothic novel.
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