What are the causes of Victor Frankenstein's guilt in Frankenstein?

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor Frankenstein's guilt (as seen in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein) does not arise until his creature begins to act out against society (because of Victor's alienation). Up until the death of William, the creature's first victim), Victor feels no guilt for creating the creature.

When Victor's creature first opens its eyes, Victor feels no guilt. Instead, Victor is horrified at and disappointed by his creature.

Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so complete!

Victor's guilt for creating the creature first becomes a thought after he hears of William's death and he sees the creature in a flash of lightening.

Could he be (I shuddered at the conception) the murderer of my brother?...Nothing in human shape could have destroyed the fair child. He was the murderer! I could not doubt it.

Here, Victor comes to realize the monstrosity of his creature. He now understands what he has unleashed upon the earth. From this point forward, Victor continues to worry about what the creature will do. His guilt becomes even more evident when he worries about what the creature will do to his family after he destroys the mate he agreed to make for the creature.

Therefore, the direct causes for Victor's guilt are the deaths of William, Justine, his father, Henry, and Elizabeth.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor Frankenstein almost immediately experiences horror and remorse when he brings his creation to life. Although for years he has been obsessed to the point of illness and madness with achieving this feat—this act of playing God—when he beholds his monster he realizes the mistake he has made and the folly of the hubris that has driven him.

Eventually he will feel a tormenting, agonizing guilt over having created this creature. He will not realize that it was not so much bringing the monster to life as rejecting his creation and depriving it of love that sends it on its murderous path.

When the monster, in deep emotional pain from being a loveless outcast, seeks revenge by killing Frankenstein's loved ones, Frankenstein begins to feel deeply guilty. He begins to understand that he is the real murderer and to feel guilty as well for the grief he is causing the heartsick survivors. He calls Justine and William "the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts." He has been wrong, he realizes, to have taken on the role of God in creating life.

wendler3 | Student

In Victor's creation and rejection of The Creature, The Creature turned to murdering all of Frankenstein's loved ones. The Creature strangled William (Victor's younger brother), Henry (Victor's best friend), Elizabeth (Victor's cousin/sister/lover), and set up Justine for the murder of William. Victor feels responsible for these horrific acts of The Creature. Therefore, Victor has an enormous amount of guilt.

hmic96 | Student

He created a monster! He killed his brother and put a woman in jail because he didn't want to confess that he created a monster. He didn't want people to think he was crazy!