How is appearance discussed in Frankenstein and how is that view revelant to our society?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The importance that humans place on outward appearance is extremely significant to the novel. Victor creates his monster by trying to make him as glorious looking as possible.  As he brings the monster to life, he is repulsed by its hideousness.  Victor is obviously a shallow character because he knows that society will not grant him the glory which he so desired from making his creature and, so, he abandons him.  The monster learns early on that appearance is highly important to humans.  He is chased from a town because of his appearance; he learns to go out at night when he stays near the DeLaceys so that he will not frighten anyone, and when he sees his reflection in a pool of water, he has already learned that his appearance is not desirable in human eyes.

Later, when he tries to make contact with Mr. DeLacey, he thinks that if the family gets to know him that they will be able to "look" past his exterior.  However, contrary to what Mr. DeLacey tells the monster (that man is basically kind), he is immediately attacked when Felix sees him.

As the novel continues, the monster believes that if Victor will create someone who is his equal in appearance that she will accept him, but he neglects to consider his own reaction to his reflection--proving that even those who might be considered "ugly" by society are attracted to beauty and place importance on the exterior.

Shelley illustrates through Frankenstein that while humans should not judge others based on appearance, in reality, they do so on a regular basis.

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