Is the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein good or evil?

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This is a massive question and a favourite one for assessments of this novel. It is key to realise how in Gothic fiction the binary opposition of man/monster is played wth and manipulated to not give us any definite answers. It would be very easy to consign the creature to...

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This is a massive question and a favourite one for assessments of this novel. It is key to realise how in Gothic fiction the binary opposition of man/monster is played wth and manipulated to not give us any definite answers. It would be very easy to consign the creature to the category of monster, as Frankenstein seems to do, but to do this ignores the way that he shows himself to be capable of the same kind of independent creative thought and emotions as humans. Indeed, some argue that he shows himself to be more of a 'man' than mankind itself, that is characterised in the novel as a bloodthirsty pack of hounds hungering for the unjust execution of Justine and expelling the creature. He himself suggests that he commits evil crimes as a direct result of the way that he is treated by mankind, forcing us to ask hard questions about whether mankind is the real monster in this novel.

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The creature responds to his surroundings, and Victor is largely responsible for the things that occur where the creature is concerned.  Think of this:  a baby is fed peas and does not like them.  He throws them back at his mother and covers the room in green slime.  Is he a "bad" baby for not liking peas?  No, and he's not bad for throwing them, either.  It's an instinct...a reaction to distaste, but it is not a premeditated action...at least not the first time.

The creature is the same.  When he is created, he smiles at Victor.  He even tells us in his own chapters that he was benevolent and kind and full of love for his "father" and humankind.  Victor abandons the creature and leaves him to the harsh world of judgemental humans.  The creature is abnormally tall, ugly, and strong.  People predetermine that he is something to be feared and struck down...rather like the pitchfork scene in Shrek.

The creature is beaten, chased, and when the De Lacey family leaves him, he is without all hope of ever being accepted into society.  He therefore decides to seek revenge on his creator, Victor, who has carelessly thrown the creature to the destiny that fate holds for him. 

The creature explains that he just wants to be happy.  When Victor again denies him this by refusing the female, the creature swears that Victor will not be happy either.  I don't think this makes him evil...just human.

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The monster is just like a newborn baby when he's first created. Instead of a"mother" nurturing him, however, Frankenstein runs away from his creature because of his horrific appearance. The De Lacey family provides the creature with a view of how wonderful life can be with people who love you. This is why the monster asks the doctor to create a mate for him, someone with whom he can share love and life. Frankenstein rejects this idea, taking away any chance the creature might have for happiness. Frankenstein's refusal and society's fear of the creature leaves the monster with a taste for revenge. Then the creature kills Frankenstein's brother and sets up Justine to be accused of his murder. His last two murders are Clerval and Elizabeth, Frankenstein's wife. The creature wants his creator to feel the loneliness that he feels without anyone to love and care for, so he kills everyone who is important to the doctor.

Only you can decide if you think the monster is bad, or is it his creator who is evil? The creature's environment determines his actions, so do you think Frankenstein should have provided his creation with a proper environment? Go to the links below for a more detailed explanation that will help you decide how you feel.

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The monster is not bad.  He has been created through no fault of his own.  He is a product of someone who is trying to play God, which is very dangerous territory.  I've always felt sorry for the monster because he experiences human emotions, yet he also has such anger built up inside of him because he doesn't understand who he is and why he is so hideous.  He only seeks revenge because he is frustrated and angry.  I don't believe he truly intended to do great harm at all.

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You have to decide whether you think the creature is good or evil. There is plenty in the novel to support either side.  If it were me, I would lean toward good.  The creature smiled benevolently at Victor through his bed curtains.  He suffers from abandonment.  He learns the hard way that fire burns and that he is ugly.  He is tormented and targeted because of his displeasing appearance.  However, even while Felix is beating the creature to save his blind father, the creature does not strike back.  He never kills anyone out of spite UNTIL he discovers the nature of his creation and how Victor just left him.  His anger toward Victor is justified.  He does not mean to kill William...or you could suggest this...the creature is just so much stronger than feeble human bodies.  He is a creature who thinks, feels, suffers, desires, and reasons.  He is unfairly judged by his appearance (this happens all the time...obese people, too skinny people, tattooed people, etc.).  Focus on the beginning chapters and the chapters the creature tells us his story (11-13 or 14) for your info if you are proving he is a good creature who resorts to revenge after dealing too long with undeserved torment (think the kids at Colombine who killed all their classmates and a teacher for ridiculing them).  You can't agree with what he did, but you can understand his reasons.

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Since your question is the basis of an essay that you have been assigned to write, you need to decide for yourself whether the monster is good or evil. I presume that you are supposed to write a persuasive essay. In that case, you need to choose a side and make your best argument for it, giving examples from the book to back yourself up.

For instance, if you decide that the monster is evil, your essay will be all about trying to prove that to your reader. Find examples in the story where he does something that can be considered evil. Perhaps just the fact that he's made of parts of dead people can be considered evil by some people. The same things goes if you decide that the monster is good; find examples from the book to illustrate your point.

What might be more interesting would be to argue that the monster is neither good nor evil but a victim of Dr. Frankenstein's desire to resurrect dead bodies.

Decide which side to argue from, find your examples, and good luck with your essay!

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Frankenstein is a wonderful story of man's attempt at playing creator. In the beginning of the novel Mary Shelley references several books Victor is reading. Look them up. You'll find they deal in "magical" and ominous thoughts, very relevant to your question. Is the monster good or evil...he is created without malice and has a tabula rasa (blank slate) view on life. The monster is lonely. He wants a companion just like anyone else. When denied,he retaliates. Is he good or evil? What would you do? Also look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Where is Victor and where is the monster on the pyramid? Analyze who is more advanced than whom.

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The creature is born like a fully grown newborn; despite its size, it knows nothing of the world. It can be argued that the creature's mind is like a "blank slate" and that it only learns to be good or bad from its experiences. Therefore it is not born good or bad, but learns the bad behavior we see in the novel from those around him. When Dr. Frankenstein abandoned the creature, it became angry and vengeful. Also, the encounters the creature has with people that he meets reinterate his self-hatred and need for vengeance because they react to his grotesque appearance with fear and detest.

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