How is Victor Frankenstein evil, and how is he good?

Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Victor's sins are pride and selfishness.  In his involvement with the acquisition of scientific knowledge he commits the tragic mistake of others in the middle ages:  He pursues the powers of science without consideration to the consequences.  In this pride of his, Victor fails to take responsibility for his creation and its actions.  In one part of the novel, he attributes "spirits" to having caused the tragic actions.  In another he says,

"I felt as if I had committed some great crime, the consciousness of which haunted me.  I was guiltless , but I had indeed drawn a horrible curse upon...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 925 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mrpoirier eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write17 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write3,513 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


marry-me-bury-me | Student

I don't believe that Victor is evil at all.

The thing with Victor is that he is plagued by a hamartia - his inability to take control to his mistakes and his horrible passion for ending death. These are the reasons why the creature was created in the first place, and thus, the cause of all of the deaths that followed.

Yes, technically, that means that Victor is responsible for numerous murders, but that does not make him evil. He constantly blames himself for the tragedies that befall him, even though they were not immediately inflicted by his own hands. If he were evil, he would lack a conscience and blame the creature fully for the deaths, but that wasn't the case.

On that note, Victor is good because he does have enough of a conscience to take responsibility for what he unleashed into society.  As well, he is even heroic in a sense. After the tragic deaths of William, Justine, and Clerval, Victor is overcome by the deepest, darkest misery; even to the point where he falls extremely ill with grief. Yet, he wills himself to live on, despite the wonderful allure of death, all on the purpose of being there to protect and avenge his loved ones from the creatures villainous acts. He is a very strong character, even if his emotionally charged narration makes him appear weak, and for that reason, he tends to earn both the sympathy and respect from the reader.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
mkcapen1 | Student

Victor Frankenstein started out wanting to do something good.  He observed his mother's death which was traumatic for him.  He thought that if he could create the perfect human being, no one would ever have to suffer from disease again. In addition, ambition is not necessarily a bad thing.  Victor was a studious student and loved to learn. 

Victor performed a bad thing by not thinking about the consequences of his actions. He rejected his creation, but continued to love his family.  One of the worst things that he did was to allow Justine to be convicted and killed for a crime she did not committ.  Victor suffered greatly due to his choices, but in the end, he did try to find some redemption.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial