Identify each of the conflicting forces and explain how this conflict within the character shows the meaning of Frankenstein.This is my essay prompt and I have to choose a character whose mind is...

Identify each of the conflicting forces and explain how this conflict within the character shows the meaning of Frankenstein.

This is my essay prompt and I have to choose a character whose mind is pulled in conflicting directions and explain what the inner struggle is and how it contributes to the novel. I don't know where I should start and which character has the most textual evidence to support it. Please help me. Thank you in advanced

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The character who would be easiest to write about would be Victor Frankenstein, because he is the protagonist and most of the story is told from his perspective. That first person narration allows the reader to understand his inner conflicts. Victor's major conflict is relationship with his creature.

Victor begins as a joyful and ambitious student. He falls in love with alchemy and the idea of finding the philosopher's stone, which is the first step in a dangerous direction for him. He decides he wants to solve the mysteries of life and death, so he creates a being out of dead body parts and brings it to life. Horrified at what he has done, he abandons the creature, which is then left to fend for itself. The creature ends up killing William, Victor's younger brother, and framing the family servant Justine for the murder. Victor knows the creature committed the crime, but he allows Justine to be executed because he does not want his reputation damaged. He does not know how to deal with everyone around him knowing about his experiment and judging his actions.

When the creature approaches Victor and asks for his help, we see a great deal of internal conflict in Victor. The creature wants Victor to build a female companion so that he is not alone in the world. He threatens Victor with more violence toward his family and friends if he does not comply. Victor very reluctantly agrees and builds the creature, but he then destroys it before bringing it to life. He tells Walton / the reader that he is concerned that he cannot trust the creature and that instead of going off to live alone, he and the female companion might make monster babies and terrorize the world. After Victor destroys the female body he has constructed, the monster kills Victor's wife and goes on to take revenge on Victor for the rest of his life. At the end of the novel, Victor and the creature are chasing each other around the Arctic, which shows their interdependence.

Most of the inner conflict we see in the novel comes from Victor's complex attitude toward his chosen profession. He is first so excited about science and alchemy, but once he makes his creation, he curses his own ambition. His extreme guilt and shame lead him to become isolated from his family and friends and lead to his own downfall, as well. The narration style of the novel allows us to see inside Victor's mind to truly understand his inner turmoil.

Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Frankenstein's creature experiences a great deal of internal conflict resulting from the extensive external conflict he encounters as he enters the human world. For example, the creature's complex reactions to Victor, and Victor's loved ones, exemplify internal struggle as the creature rages against the man who created and then abandoned him.

Without any guidance from his creator, Victor Frankenstein, the creature attempts to interact with the human world only to be spurned at every encounter. This situation happens over and over, confusing the creature who isn't sure if he should hate the men who reject him or hate himself for being rejected. The first incident that deserves careful examination is the one during which the creature first confronts Victor about Victor's choice to abandon his creation, but there are many more that can serve this argument well.

Frankenstein's creature's humanity is real, despite the fact that he was created rather than born, and it is possible that Mary Shelley meant for the reader to consider the question of what it means to be human. The creature has the emotional life of a human gifted with sensitivity and intelligence, and these qualities enable the creature to feel enraged and angry, as well as lonely and isolated—so is he any less human for being created as an experiment? The answer to this question is ambiguous, but this ambiguity proves Shelley's point that humans sometimes behave inhumanely, and somehow, the inhumane treatment of others just may be a human tendency in and of itself.

lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think two characters have the most inner struggles - Walton, the ship captain who is on a voyage of discovery that endangers his men, and of course Frankenstein. Frankenstein, however, has the most inner struggle and this struggle contributes to the theme of the novel.

Frankenstein's mind and conscience are pulled in two separate directions after the monster comes to life. He continually struggles with whether he should  kill the monster or not. He is guilty because HE is the one that created the monster. He also struggles greatly over whether or not to create a mate for the monster. On one hand, if he does so, the monster says that he will leave Frankenstein alone. Frankenstein does not believe, this, however, and he finally comes to the conclusion that if he creates a mate, it would do more harm than good, because then there would be two monsters, not just one. He does not trust the monster to keep his word.

This is one of the major themes of the  novel - duty and responsibility. What should be the greater responsibility? Should Frankenstein's responsibility be to the monster HE has created, or to his fellow man, to whom the monster is a daanger? Since Frankestein has acquired forbidden knowledge, knowledge that should be in God's realm, not man's (creation), is he obligated to not repeat his great sin of trying to be like God?

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