How is Victor Frankenstein intelligent, and what are some of his character traits?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein is a scientific genius.  He masters the natural science of biology, anatomy, galvanism, alchemy, electromagnetism, and natural philosophy.  He does what his professors only dreamed of.

But, like many geniuses, he is a rogue; he has no community.  His genius is the kind that is dangerous, rebellious, reckless, without standards, or scientific ethics.  Victor suffers from hubris, extreme self-pride.  He isolates himself from loved ones: friends, family, women, and colleagues.

He is a kind of satanic hero:

•“The Will become Satanic pride and rebellious self-idolatry” •“to find in itself alone one absolute motive of action…” •“outward Restlessness and whirling Activity; Violence with guile; Temerity and Cunning… Interminableness of Object with perfect Indifference of Means.” •“COMMANDING GENIUS!” • like Napoleon – “palliative admiration” •“Evil, be thou my good!”


He is a kind of Byronic hero:

•unusually handsome, or inextricably attractive, often to both sexes •wounded or physically, disabled in some way •moody, mysterious, and/or gloomy •passionate (both in terms of sexuality and deep emotions generally) •remorse laden (for some unnamed sin, a hidden curse, or crime) •unrepentant (despite remorse) •persecuted by fate •self-reliant (often rejecting people on both physical and emotional levels) •is an admirable rebel (against convention, society, religious doctrine) •has a distaste for society and social institutions •is isolated (both physically and emotionally) from society (a wanderer, an exile) •is not impressed by rank and privilege (though he may possess it) •is larger-than-life in his ability--and his pride •suffers gloriously from titanic passions •tends to be self-destructive

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

He is intelligent in his interest to question nature and the laws of science, and life. The fact that he thinks outside the box and aims to reach a goal as complicated as to create matter, something scientifically known to be impossible, is reason enough to give him credit. He is also a natural researcher, always hungry for more learning and, unfortunately, highly ambitious.

Among his character traits, you can include extreme, overreaching, ambitious, inquiring, stern and stubborn, passionate, and a bit obsessive. Once he learned his lesson after the creation of the creature, he lowered himself to a humbling state of wretch where he became more sound, and more aware of the consequences that come as a result of actions. He went as far as refusing to make a female model for the creature, so that shows how regretful he became of going for this experiment of life.

In the end, Victor was a memory of himself. He was a man on the run and indeed considered himself "a wretch". He finally got the message, but he got it a bit too late.

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