Is Victor Frankenstein a bad "parent" to the life he creates in the novel Frankenstein?

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mattbuckley's profile pic

mattbuckley | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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This one of the main ideas that runs through this novel as you learn more about each character. Does Victor have a moral obligation to make the creature happy?

Victor does not look at his creation as that of a parent. He sees himself as a scientist and the life he created is simply an experiment. Once the experiment has been completed and he sees the result of his labor, he is disgusted with the appearance of the monster as "his yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath". Victor was more concerned with the idea of completing the experiment, not creating life. Therefore, upon seeing this creature, he is disgusted and runs away. This is his reaction to the life he has created. The creature tracks Victor down and upon waking, Victor sees the creature standing beside his bed. "His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear . . . I escaped and rushed downstairs." 

Victor runs from his creation and from his memory of creating it. When the creature and Victor finally speak to each other, the creature tries to make Victor understand how he abandoned his responsibilities toward his creation. The creature tells him, "remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but i am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed." 

The creature certainly believes that Victor has been a bad "parent". Victor never felt any responsibility toward the creature because the creature was simply an experiment. Unfortunately, by the time the creature confronts Victor about his responsibility, Victor feels hatred for the creature due to what the creature has done to his family. 

StephanieRR's profile pic

StephanieRR | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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When Victor sees what he has created, he is immediately repulsed by it, and conveys these thoughts while telling the story. " that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep."

Victor never stops running from his creature. His ambition drove him to form this creature and give it life, but as soon as he beholds it he washes his hands of all responsibility for it. As the story continues, it is clear that when the creature is amongst good influences, he thrives, learning human speech and to respect such things as books and nature. Things might have turned out quite differently if Victor had accepted the challenge of directing, disciplining, and caring for the thing he created. Instead, he simply sets it loose on the world and flees from it whenever the creature catches up to him. Even when the creature begins to take his revenge, Victor refuses to acknowledge him.

Because of how Victor behaves in regard to his creature, he is a bad "parent". What he did could be compared to a parent leaving a baby out in the wild, and it is arguably worse because in the case of a human child, there is a chance someone might take pity on it and bring it in. For the creature, only Victor knows where he came from and why he looks as he does; everyone else sees him as a dangerous monster.

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