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

Expert Answers info

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

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...

(The entire section contains 8 answers and 1,369 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


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

bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write1,334 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write1,183 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, 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

linda-allen eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2004

write2,120 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mejwestut eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write33 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

allyson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write99 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


zumba96 | Student

I do not believe that the monster was born evil. I believe the monster was forced to mold into the strict rules of society and conform into the inner monster role he fulfilled. In the beginning the monster tries to read and become knowledgeable in order to communicate with other humans despite his appearance, yet he is spurned because of his face and not from his deeds. Despite becoming fluent, the deeds he commits are only against human kind, and while the monster did not have to turn this way and fulfill the mold of the monster, this is still partially the effect of the monster and society that turned him into becoming in such a manner. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
bettykirkers | Student

The monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein complies with John Locke’s theory of ‘Tabula Rasa’; the mind is a “blank slate” when we are born and therefore our life experiences are what shape our character. It is generally agreed by critics that Locke’s ideas influenced Shelley; therefore as readers we are to believe that the Creature is not inherently good or bad, but forced into his wrathful behaviour as a result of the suffering he endures. The abandonment of the Creature by Victor Frankenstein enables the Creature to develop morally independent of a parental figure.

The lessons he learns and the ideas he develops are principally derived from literature; specifically Paradise Lost, Sorrows of Werter and Plutarch’s Lives. He tries to be ‘good’, mimicking the behaviour of the De Lacey family and attempting to alleviate their hardship by chopping wood and leaving it for them. He learns about the cruelty of mankind, and when he is rejected by the De Lacey family which he yearns to be a part of, the switch in his brain flips. Instead of being a tender, compassionate individual, the Creature transforms into a brute; using his superhuman strength and cunning to murder William and frame Justine for his deeds.

The framed narrative used by Shelley ensures that the reader – much like Frankenstein himself – is prejudiced towards the Creature. We believe that he is a monster, until it comes to hearing his tale and we realise that Frankenstein’s rejection of his creation has made the Creature behave the way he does. This is epitomised by Frankenstein’s line “I, not in deed, but in effect was the true murderer”. He recognises, albeit too late to save William or Justine, that his actions have had repercussions for his family.

The monster is not ‘good’ because he is denied the opportunity to be thus, by both his creator and the De Lacey family who reject him because of their “fatal prejudice”. The monster in Frankenstein is therefore ‘evil’ because he feels alone and resentful towards humanity who love and cherish one another. Yet the ‘evil’ nature of the Creature is not intrinsic, it is instilled in him by his experiences and subsequently the character of Victor Frankenstein is accountable for the Creature’s ‘evil’ deeds. When Victor Frankenstein “did not dare return to the apartment which I inhabited” for fear of his creation contained within, he ensured that his scientific accomplishment would haunt him and the Frankenstein family for the rest of his life. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
furnadno | Student

It really depends on whos story you believe the most. Frankenstein or the monster. If you believe in Frankenstein then the monster is evil and is full of lies and deciet. If you believe in the monster's story then you would think that it is Frankenstein's fault for not educating him.

 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
metallica101 | Student
Is the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein good or evil?

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

I have to write an essay with this as a title. I'm finding this novel hard to get into and only have a few days until deadline. Help!!!!

thanks

if you have an essay, just read the book. trust me it is a really good book. i have to do a project that is due possibly next week. i am freaking out. all i need are 40 sticky notes of examples from that book. it really sucks. i haven't even started on the stupid project. so your not the only one that has something due soon. my theme is Good/Evil. i have to show good and evil examples.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
marry-me-bury-me | Student

This is a pretty controversial question. First of all, the creature was, in fact, 'born' with the basic qualities of love and compassion that one would expect to find in the average human being. However, Victor couldn't see this due to the creature's hideous exterior. As well, it seemed that the rest of humanity would shun him too, without even giving him a chance to prove himself to them. Up to this point, the creature, safe to say, was certainly not evil. However, after being thrown into misery from being an outcast, the creature fell into a haze of hatred towards his creator, and he became possessed with a sense of vengeance. This is where he starts torturing Victor by killing off his loved ones one by one. I think that this is what makes the creature evil. Yes, Victor was wrong and irresponsible to neglect his creation, but he certainly did not deserve all of the agony that the monster made him endure. So, he could have been good, but because he was unable to deal with his emotions properly, chose to be evil instead.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial