Why was Victor from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein guilty?

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Frankenstein is guilty of defying God by transgressing the boundaries of human knowledge and creating life. He is also guilty of abandoning his creature and sending it out into a cruel world. In turn he is responsible for, or guilty of, the death and destruction that the creature inflicts.

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Frankenstein is guilty of defying God by transgressing the boundaries of human knowledge and creating life. He is also guilty of abandoning his creature and sending it out into a cruel world. In turn he is responsible for, or guilty of, the death and destruction that the creature inflicts.

However, before Frankenstein is guilty for any of the above, he is initially guilty of neglecting and causing distress to his loved ones in his obsessive pursuit to create life. His obsession causes him to "forget those friends who were so many miles absent," knowing well enough that this neglect "disquieted them."

In regards to defying God by transgressing the boundaries of human knowledge, Frankenstein is a story in a long line of stories with the same moral, from the biblical story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and the Greek myths of Prometheus and Icarus to The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus and, later, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Frankenstein, like his predecessors in these stories, is guilty of taking too much pride in his own knowledge and then mis-applying it. He, like Adam and Eve, loses his relative paradise as a consequence. When he realizes that he is guilty of transgressing the boundaries of human knowledge, Frankenstein says:

. . . how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow. [Chapter 4]

In terms of abandoning the creature once he has brought it to life, Frankenstein is guilty of willfully neglecting the duty of a father to a son. When the creature is born he is, psychologically and emotionally, like a new-born baby. When Frankenstein recoils in horror because of how the creature looks, and then leaves the creature to fend for itself, he is as guilty as a parent who leaves a newborn baby in the street to die.

Because Frankenstein abandons his creation, he is also responsible for the monster that it becomes. If Frankenstein had nurtured the creature, as a good and responsible parent figure, then the monster would in all likelihood have become moral and decent. But because Frankenstein instead abandoned it, the creature is exposed to the persecution of a cruel world, and consequently becomes a monster. Frankenstein, the creator, is thus at least in part responsible for the death and destruction that the monster inflicts. Most notably, Frankenstein is guilty of the death of his own brother, William, and for the distress which William's death causes his father and Elizabeth. Indeed, in Chapter 8 Frankenstein exclaims:

This was my doing! And my father's woe, and the desolation of that late so smiling home was all the work of my thrice-cursed hands! [Chapter 8]

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Victor, the ambitious protagonist of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, carries guilt for a number of reasons. All of them can be traced back to Victor's ill-fated experiment with the creation of life.

When Victor successfully animates his creature, Victor very quickly experiences fear and regret. These powerful emotions lead Victor to reject his progeny, which inspires confusion, sadness, and eventually rage in the creature. In order to avenge his own misery, the creature seeks to punish Victor, and he does so by murdering Victor's young and innocent brother, William, when he encounters the boy in the woods and learns his name. The creature cleverly frames Justine for the murder of William, which eventually leads to her execution, making the creature responsible for her death as well.

Both of these events could have been avoided had Victor Frankenstein managed his experiment more carefully, but due to Victor's irresponsibility and his blindness to anything except his own ambition, he is guilty of the deaths of his brother and his family's friend. Victor's guilt deepens as the novel progresses, and he eventually loses his beloved Elizabeth to the creature as well.

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Answering the "why" portion of this question all depends on what it is you are arguing he is guilty of. The argument could be made that he is guilty of several things. Here are three and the reasons why.

1) He is guilty of recklessly creating the monster because he is so focused on whether or not he can do it, he doesn't really consider whether or not he should do it and all of the possible negative consequences it might have. He only thinks of all of the wonderful things that he is sure will come of his experiment.

"A new species would bless me as its creator and source" (Ch. IV).

2) He is guilty of abandoning the creature and leaving it to its own devices because he is so scared of it and horrified by his own creation. It is not until the moment that it comes to life that Victor finally realizes the horror that could come of his experiment, and instead of staying to deal with the consequences, he runs away.

"Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room..." (Ch. V).

3) He is guilty of knowing that the monster killed William, and allowing Justine to be executed for the murder. He does this because he is so afraid of anyone knowing that he created the monster and that the monster has actually murdered someone. He is determined to handle this on his own and in the meantime, the creature is out of control. Although Victor has the ability to save Justine, he does not, so he is really responsible for her death.

"Thus I might proclaim myself a madman, but not revoke the sentence passed upon my wretched victim. She perished on the scaffold as a murderess" (Ch. VII)!

 

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