How does the Monster in Frankenstein symbolize the desire for recognition? What if everyone responded to rejection with violence?

Quick answer:

Shelley gives the monster a voice so he can tell his story to his creator, Victor, and plead for his creator to recognize him and his needs.

He attempts to appeal to pathos by recounting his tragic experiences and begging Victor to make a female mate.

The monster's quest for vengeance suggests that if everyone who were denied recognition or love were violent, the world would devolve into chaos.

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Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein is a frame narrative that begins with letters from Robert Walton to his sister. The letters tell the story that Victor narrates to Robert and in the innermost frame, the monster's story as narrated to Victor. It is crucial to Shelley's project that the creature be given his own voice; otherwise, Victor holds all the storytelling power and the reader is persuaded to sympathize with Victor. However, Shelley's novel is critical of Victor's actions in bringing this creature to life to boost his own ego and reputation, and then abandoning it when he discovers he has made a mistake.

The creature's narrative allows us to see how painful Victor's rejection has been for the creature and how necessary his creator's recognition and care is for the creature's stability. Without it, the creature lashes out and vows violent revenge on Victor. The creature desperately wants Victor to acknowledge his needs. As a human-like being, the creature requires love, affection, acceptance, and companionship, none of which Victor has offered him. Therefore, the creature appeals to pathos by relating his entire sad story since being abandoned by Victor. The creature has been repeatedly rejected because of his dreadful appearance, despite being inherently kind-hearted and generous. His experience with the DeLacey family serves as the centerpoint of this account. He provides the family with firewood after seeing how exhausted they are by work and attempts to appeal to the blind father, who cannot see him to judge his appearance. He learns about human emotion and sympathy, and he also acquires language through his observation of them. He learns to read complex texts, and these books have a profound impact on his worldview. His reading of Paradise Lost teaches the creature about the ideal relationship between a maker and his creation, based on the story of God and Adam. God's creation of Eve as Adam's companion, along with his observations of Felix and Safie, teach the creature how important romantic partnership is for survival and happiness. The creature uses these examples to attempt to engage Victor's emotions, namely his pity, and persuade him to make a female creature. The creature promises to go somewhere secluded and remote and never interact with humans again. Victor at first agrees, even though he is angry and disgusted by his creature, but he later abandons the project and destroys the female creature, resulting in his original creature's violent, rage-fueled revenge mission and the subsequent deaths of Victor's loved ones.

The creature's feeling of rejection, due to his creator's lack of recognition of his duty to the creature and the creature's needs, leads to violence and vengeance. Thus, the novel suggests that if if violence were the method most people used to respond to rejection, the world would devolve into utter chaos. The creature wreaks havoc on one man's life, destroying his family and will to live. If this project were pursued on a larger scale, by anyone who felt rejected by society, there would likely not be much left of civilized society.

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How does the monster in Frankenstein present the theme of the desire for recognition? And in terms of the book, how would society or the world become if everyone responded with violence for recognition or acknowledgment?

You could approach this topic from a couple of angles. First, the monster longs for recognition simply as a living creature. From the moment he is created and comes to life, Frankenstein rejects him and fairly tries to pretend that he doesn't exist. Pushed to the edges of society and met with scorn from every human he encounters, the monster's lack of any form of even neutral recognition pushes him to lash out and kill his creator's younger brother. Because his creator fails to recognize his existence and because other humans (such as young William) recognize his existence only in fear and disgust, the monster's sense of violence and retribution grows.

You could also examine the monster's interactions specifically with the DeLacey family. The monster anonymously reaches out to help this family by cutting wood for them and by foraging for himself instead of stealing from their meager rations. During this time, the monster's intelligence grows rapidly, and he believes that this kind and warm family could finally offer the positive recognition he longs for. However, when his true physical appearance is revealed and they recognize the creature only for his physical deformities, they try to attack him. He is rejected yet again, denied the recognition not only being a fellow living being but also denied the recognition of all the ways he's helped the family throughout the preceding weeks.

The need for acceptance, even within a small group of people, is one of the most fundamental human needs. People need to feel that they have a safe spot to land and a group of people who will accept them no matter their shortcomings and mistakes. If people were only met with violence in their efforts to gain this recognition, it would fundamentally change the nature of their personalities. People who are constantly met with violence and anger are more likely to become violent and angry. Consider the cycle of child abuse. Why do children who are abused often grow up to be child abusers themselves? Not only is it a learned pattern of response, but it often also changes the way these people perceive the world around them. Humanity becomes fearsome, untrustworthy, and harsh. The monster demonstrates this same principle; because his efforts for acceptance are constantly met with fear and anger, his personality becomes hardened and bent on revenge toward the world that fails to recognize his inner strengths despite his outward appearance.

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