Student Question

What are two contrasting qualities of Victor Frankenstein's monster, and what are three examples of each?

Expert Answers

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Frankenstein's creature has a very complex personality. He can show tenderness and love and yet turn vengeful and enraged. A perfect example of the creature's tenderness is displayed through his interactions with a family he begins to observe and to which he becomes emotionally attached. He comes to know this family because when he is seeking shelter, he finds a simple "hovel" that is joined to the family's cottage. He hides in his hovel and secretly observes the family as they go about their daily life. His tenderness is displayed when he sees that the family is poverty-stricken. He notes that the children, Agatha and Felix, give up their food to feed their father, De Lacey. Touched by their acts of sacrifice even in the midst of their own suffering, the creature stops stealing their food. He also cuts wood to warm the family and places it outside their home. Whenever he can, he helps by performing anonymous acts of kindness for this family to which he has become emotionally bonded.

However, the creature's feelings of alienation and his continued rejection by the very people from whom he seeks love make him bitter. He shows his true anger and desire for revenge when he asks Victor to make him a companion who will not reject him and who will provide him the love and acceptance he so desires. He says that if Victor refuses his request, he will "glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of [Victor's] remaining friends." When Victor finally decides not to create a partner for the creature, the creature shows his anger and violent nature by killing Victor's best friend, Henry Clerval. Shortly after, the creature kills Victor's bride, Elizabeth, on the couple's wedding night.

Just as every human changes in response to their life experiences, the creature's growing cruel and vindictive nature is a product of society and how its shallowness and insensitivity to the feelings of others can turn a kind and loving being into something far more sinister.

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