Frankenstein’s Creature

The monster tells him of the horrors of alienation and isolation as he unintentionally scared men, women, and children. He tells Frankenstein of one family whom he had admired and tried to gain their love. The creature found a space on the side of the house that was hidden from sight. There he listened and watched the family closely as he secretly chops their wood and shovels their snow. As he lies, there night after night, he listens to the father’s weeping guitar, and learns their language and their agonies. The monster tells Frankenstein:

 

            “I admired the perfect forms of my cottagers—their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality a monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity. (Volume II, Chapter IV pg. 76)

 

The creature continued she said:

 

“And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. I was, besides, endowed with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they, and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded their’s. When I looked around, I saw and heard of none like me. Was I a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?

 

 “But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caress; or if they had, all my past life was not a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguish nothing. … What was I?” (Volume II Chapter V Pg. 80-1)

 

“The creature must have felt as if he were a stateless, hearthless, lawless being,” Daniel said, “Like a beast below humanity. To not be held at infancy, to not have any friendly or familial ties is an outcast and criminal in the making. However, the creature still desired to befriend his beloved cottagers, whom he watched over with love and pain.”

 

“You make a great point. In fact, if children aren’t held at a young age they have difficulty sympathizing with other human beings in life, which inclines them to antisocial behavior. The creature is hanging on to dear life to this family hoping to find in them the love he needs and so desires.”

 

“Right,” Daniel said, “he recognizes that he himself is a social animal, inclined towards the company of others. Without that company he will live the life of the most pathetic of all creatures. A quite summoning part of the creature’s sad enlightenment is when he was searching for food and finds a bag with articles of clothing and a few books. The books it had contained were the Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe, Plutarch’s Lives, and Paradise Lost by John Milton. In the Sorrows of Young Werther he found a sensitive soul who tragically suffered from unrequited love, a feeling that the creature fears and sympathizes with, for he might discover unrequited love when he is brave enough to meet the cottagers whom he loves so much. Plutarch’s Lives taught the creature of great men and women of the Greek and Roman world. It spoke of virtue and vices, of hubris and heroism. The last of these books he felt most deeply:

 

“[P]aradise lost excited different and far deeper emotions. I read it, as I had read the other volumes which had fallen into my hands, as a true history. It moved every feeling of wonder and awe, that the picture of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures was capable of exciting. I often referred the several situations, as their similarity struck me, to my own. Like Adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect. He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with, and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature: but I was a wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me.

 

“Another circumstance strengthened and confirmed these feelings. Soon after my arrival in the hovel, I discovered some papers in the pocket of the dress which I had taken from the laboratory. At first I had neglected them but now that I was able to decipher the characters in which they were written, I began to study them with diligence. It was your journal of the four months that proceeded my creation. You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the progress of your work; this history was mingled with accounts of domestic occurrence. You, doubtless, recollect these papers. Here they are. Everything is related in them which bears reference to my accursed origin; the whole detail of that series of disgusting circumstances which produced it is set in view the minutest description of my odious and loathsome person is given, in language which painted your own horrors, and rendered mine ineffaceable. I was sickened as I read. ‘Hateful day when I received life!’ I exclaimed in agony. ‘Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God in pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of your’s more horrid from its very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested.’’ (Volume III, Chapter 7 pg. 87-8)

 

“And Frankenstein now recognizes what he has done. He played the role of a god which had created a being who was destined to live a life destitute in a desert of despair reaching for humanity only to be shut off from it. With one final attempt to save himself from such a pathetic life, the creature decides to slowly confront the cottagers. The old father is blind, therefore, he looks past his appearance. The creature tells the man of a people he desires to meet and gain their friendship, but o how he fears to confront them for they may reject him. The old man sympathizes with him and tells him to trust in humanity. However, once the son and daughter arrive at the cottage to see the creature the son rushes to beat him and separate the father from the beast. The creature tells Frankenstein how he was torn from humanity at that very point with little hope to ever gain fellowship after such a failure.

 

            The creature then tells Frankenstein how enraged he was in his chest at this rejection! The creature then set out to find his creator. On his travels to find his creator he sees a young girl slip into a rapid stream. Against all currents, he rushes and grabs the young girl and takes her to safety, and for what? Only to be shot in the shoulder by a frightened father. That was the last straw, and upon the creature’s arrival to Frankenstein’s hometown, that is where the creature ran into Frankenstein’s youngest brother William. That is where he murdered him and set up Justine as the murderer. The creature then says he will leave humanity, he will retreat and go to the wilds on one condition, if Frankenstein will create a female companion for him. Sympathizing with the monster, and fearing for humanity, Dr. Frankenstein agrees.  

However, before he leaves, his father asks if he will marry Elizabeth.  Frankenstein longs to, but first, he must create the monster’s companion. Dr. Frankenstein then leaves his native country to find solitude once again, in order to begin assembling the creature a female companion. However, when the creature peers through the window to check on Dr. Frankenstein’s progress, Frankenstein reflects on what he is doing, and so disgusted with himself, and the ghostly and ghastly creature, he destroys the female. Frankenstein yells at the creature, “what if she hates me as much as she does you? Or what if you both wreak havoc on humanity? Or create children that will haunt and hunt us to oblivion?” He tells the monster, “Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness.” And the creature responds in the darkest manner:

“Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master;–obey!” …” [I] shall be with you on your wedding night.” (Volume III, Chapter III pg. 116)

“What do you think that means?” Nausica asked.

“Frankenstein believes that when he is to wed, he will be murdered by the wretch.”

“Yes, but it also goes back to the industrial revolution,” Nausica said. “We were its creator, however, now it is our master. We are slaves to it as we consume ourselves with the what machinations lies within the mills and factories where lives are lived, not our family farms and little mom and pop shops anymore, but in the dark recesses of industry.”

“William Blake believed this new laboring work corrupted man’s soul. The factories and mills reduces man to a machine and leaves man’s soul unnatural and obscene. We can’t stop the industrial revolution now that it began can we?”

“Why do you believe that is?” Nausica asked.

“Because we now live in a world where we can’t live without the technology with which it creates. Furthermore, now, by shear wealth, man can reduce others to mere labor and pay them a minimum wage which enslaves them to a life of poverty. This basic need for survival makes life impervious to an examined life where one questions if there is a point to life, that there is a point. These poor men and women can’t seem to find it out of the tiredness or their toils.”

***

“Well I wonder about the subtitle of the novel, It’s “A Modern Prometheus”. Dr. Frankenstein created a being with science, but without love,” Daniel said. “The very thing that could have saved the creature was lost with Henry Clerval’s death. Henry was a man of imagination, sensibilities, and notably poetry who came to an end so woefully. If Frankenstein shared the same friendship with the monster as with Henry, then the tragedy wouldn’t have come to such a dreadful end. Furthermore, that the industrial revolution and science, which instantiates the creature, can only get us so far. They fail to get to the nature of human nature.”

“And what is the nature of human nature?”

“That we are part feeling, thinking and perceptive beings, and that the feeling aspect of our nature is often neglected, and in the monster’s case, much rejected.”

“I agree,” Nausica said. “The creature, who was never even given a name, wasn’t created with love, which is what the pretentions of science fail to account for. Science sees with eye and the microscope, but it neglects the need within us that longs to be loved and held. Without love what are we? We would be wretches lost at sea in an ocean of oblivion, which is where Dr. Frankenstein and the crew and captain are fastened. Even more so, this world has become ever so much more mechanized since then. People are less looked upon less by their humanity but in business and by their merit for money making. Even more so, if not mechanized by machines and science but then by the information age where people program computational code for currency, which leaves little time for their own humanity.

***

“I presume so,” Daniel said. “However, instead of the creature being assembled by parts, like the industrial revolution’s mechanical heart, it is now software encoded with bits and bytes. The new creature will certainly be created with artificial intelligence. However, a chess program may know how to act in a game of chess, but does it know how to play a game of chess so much that it doesn’t want the game to end, just like we do not want life to end. Where we are full of life and hope, computers are all dark inside. Many are ambitiously trying to create an artificial intelligence but with negligence of what that might mean, just as Frankenstein failed to realize and himself intervene. If we create a conscious being through technology, which remains a mystery, then what will it think and feel about us? Will we, with high hopes, teach it all of the vices and virtues of man, poke and prod it with everything we can, but still neglect it of all the love it can withstand and ever question if it can understand?”

 

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