How does Victor interpret the devastation that has been visited upon his family? Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein internalizes the destruction of the lives of his loved ones by his creature only to the extent that he feels anguish; he never accepts responsibility for his having driven the creature to vengeance.

After the death of his little brother William, Justine accused of the murder and brought to trial because the "daemon" has placed the locket of William on her pocket and she is brought to trial.  Victor describes this trial, and comments,

The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained by innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore my bosom and would not forego their hold....I cannot pretend to describe what I then fet.  I had before experienced sensation of horror; and I have endeavoured to bestow upon them adequate expressions, but words cannot convey an idea of the heart-sickening despair that I then endured. (Chapter 8)

Later on in Chapter 21, as Victor reflects upon the death of Clerval, his dearest companion and friend, Victor states that he was deceived by no vision, realizing that Clerval has

fallen a victim to me and the monster of my creation.

So, there are indications that Victor feels that the creature does things that are solely his own responsibility.  In addition, Victor externalizes the blame again, considering more his personal feelings:

I was unable to pursue the train of thought; a thousand feeling pressed upon me, and I wept bitterly.

As he approaches his marriage to Elizabeth in spite of the threat of the creature who has stated that he will be with him on his wedding day, Victor states that he has taken precautions to defend himself should "the fiend" attach him; he seems to not consider Elizabeth.  After the tragic death of Elizabeth, Victor asserts that

A fiend had snatched from me every hope of future happiness:  no creature had ever been so miserable as I was; so frightful an event is single in the history of man.

And, again Victor places blame mainly upon the creature.  As his father cannot bear the grief of having lost William and now Elizabeth, he, too,dies.  Victor declares,

Cursed, cursed be the fiend that brought misery on his grey hairs, and doomed him to waste in wretchedness! (23)

After this statement, there is none claiming responsibility by Victor.  Instead, he says,

What then became of me?  I know not; I lost sensation, and chains and darkness were the only objects that pressed upon me.(23)

At this point, Victor resolves to pursue the creature in order to stop his murderous acts, still pursuing him as though he were a separate entity from him and not his own creative responsibility.


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