Academia

A Brief Summary of the Creature’s Motivations in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

The ostensible antagonist of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – the Creature whose life Victor initiates – is compelled into committing violent acts under the false belief that doing so will allow him to assimilate into humankind. Rejected as he was by Victor from the moment of his ‘birth’, the Creature seeks, with humility, a society which will accept him, or, at the very least, “overlook the deformity of [his] figure”. The Creature is not unaware of his unconventional appearance. Rather, that he is “deformed” plagues his mind – he tends towards implying himself to be less than human, as evidenced through his likening of the hovel in which he resides, to a primitive “kennel”. Longing to do away with his pessimistic self-image, however, he is drawn to De Lacey and family, believing that he can learn – and thus integrate himself into – the ways of humankind, simply from observing “his protectors”. Taking their literal words as figurative gospel, the Creature believes he gains “an insight into the manners, governments, and religions” of mankind through listening to Felix read aloud. Except, on account of Felix reading such works as “Volney’s Ruins of Empires”, and thus recounting “details of vice and bloodshed”, the Creature is “disgust[ed]”. He thus grapples with the rapidly fraying hope that he can “win [mankind’s] favour” with a “gentle demeanour and conciliating words”. When this hope is thoroughly desecrated, however, he resorts to the only other behaviour he understands mankind to have an affinity for: violence. Henceforth, in what is essentially a last, desperate reach for assimilation, the Creature begins to murder children, women, and men alike, all for the sake of becoming “the same nature as man”.

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