Why was it ethically wrong for Frankenstein to create a monster in Mary Shelley's book, Frankenstein?

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor's decision to create the monster is proven to be ethically wrong by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. First, Victor takes body parts from a charnel house without consent of the dead or their families. Second, he does not properly think about the consequences of his actions. Third, he does not provide for his creature after he brings it to life. Fourth, he tries to usurp the natural creation process by playing God.

Victor assembles his creature out of dead body parts. This is an injustice to the families of the dead as well as to the creature itself, who is not truly his own being but just a hideous assemblage of the parts of other humans. 

More importantly, Victor does not properly consider the consequences of his actions. He is dedicated to making a creature for the scientific advancement and the glory that he would receive. He doesn't think about the fact that he is bringing a new being to life, like a child, and that he must rear it and care for it. He is horrified when he brings it to life and runs away. He abandons the creature, which is definitely unethical. He lets it roam free, eventually contributing to the creature's murder of other characters, including Frankenstein's family and friends. 

Lastly, Frankenstein's creation of the monster is unethical because he usurps the natural process of reproduction. He takes the power of both women and God into his own hands. The product he makes is tainted because of his misguided ambition and unethical process. 

As a result of his ignorance of the ethical implications of his creation, Frankenstein dooms his creature and himself. In so doing, Victor proves to be the true villain of the novel. 

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the best clues that Victor Frankenstein's behavior is unethical is his own feeling about what he is doing while he is doing it.  Of his preparations to create his new being, he says, "often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation [...]."  If one's very nature turns away from one's activities, that's a pretty good indication that one is engaged in activities that are not moral nor healthy.  The fact that Victor says that his very humanity "loath[ed]" what he did while he worked helps to show that it was unethical.

Further, Victor's response to the world around him while he works is another indicator that this work was unethical.  It changes him.  He says that

It was a most beautiful season; never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest or the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage, but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature.  And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I had not seen for so long a time.

In other words, Victor no longer enjoys the things he once enjoyed, and he has let his once-important relationships fall away.  Alone, this evidence wouldn't prove the unethical nature of his work, but it is certainly corroborating.  If you know that you are doing something not entirely ethical, how much do you want to write home to tell your family about what you're doing?  

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of reasons why it was not correct for the creation of a monster. Let me give you a few of these reasons.

First, Victor Frankenstein played the role of God. He thought he could tamper with knowledge and create life without thinking about what he was doing on a deeper level. There is a strong undercurrent of the evils of pride and hubris.

Second, Victor Frankenstein did not consider the ramifications of creating a new life. Would he accept his creation? How would the world consider this new creation? The alienation that this monster feels is real and it is due to the lack of foresight by Victor.

Third, Frankenstein did not consider the feelings, desires, and wants of the monster that he created. He was not willing to take any responsibility for his creation.

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