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Mary Shelley’s Monster in Frankenstein Literature Analysis Essay


Introduction

Background Information

Writers of fictional works of art often come up with characters that are not real in a bid to convey a certain message to the audience. In most cases, the imaginary characters are given attributes that personify human beings in real life. In this paper, the author places emphasis on monsters as fictional characters.

Daragh (382) argues that certain character traits associated with monsters can be used to explain themes that relate to human society. To this end, the author of this paper examines Frankenstein, a monster. Details about the traits of this character are explained in a bid to draw parallels between him and human behaviors.

Whenever monsters are depicted in a text, the creators are often interested in bringing out the fears of the people in a given society. According to Daragh (382), monsters are presented as villains and as creatures whose purpose is to terrorize others.

However, there are cases where the characters harbor no ill intentions at all. In such situations, the monsters are used to illustrate the monstrous behavior of actual beings. An example of the same is presented in the character of Frankenstein. In the book, the author uses the monster to show how real people behave in society.

A number of specific characteristic features are discussed in this paper. They include, among others, appearance, emotions, and articulations associated with the character. Each of the traits addressed is essential in understanding the reasons why Frankenstein was created. More specifically, the role of the character as a monster helps to appreciate the place of such creatures and other fictional figures in a given literary piece of art. Daragh (383) suggests that monsters advance important themes in a story. In light of this, a closer look at the role played by Frankenstein reveals the irony of a creature that should elicit fear among people but ends up experiencing terror instead.

Statement of the Research

The underlying principle of this research undertaking is to examine the character traits of Frankenstein as a monster. The analysis is best realized in the context of a thesis statement that the arguments revolve around.

Thesis statement

The following is the thesis statement of this research paper:

An assessment of the Frankenstein character reveals that monsters are a creation of society.

The author of this paper draws most of the arguments from the opinions made about monsters in peer-reviewed articles. For example, the Master’s thesis by Story (1) seeks to outline the background of monsters in a bid to illustrate their nature. Such arguments are important as they inform the reader why these characters are created. The analysis made in this paper will borrow from Story and other relevant sources.

A Formalist Review of Frankenstein the Monster

Characteristics of Frankenstein

Appearance

In many narratives, monsters are depicted as creatures that are larger than human beings. Most of the times, these characters are given abilities that are superior to those of humans. Works of art that rely on the technique of appearance suggest that monsters are creatures whose sole purpose is to harm humans.

That is the underlying principle in the majority of these narratives. In their research paper, Story (1) advances the idea that giants and ogres are best understood as villains. One way of depicting a villain is by giving them features that would allow them to terrorize people. The same includes anatomical and morphological features associated with the creatures.

Frankenstein is depicted as a relatively large creature. Estimates of the monster’s height suggest that he is about 8 feet tall. Story (1) argues that a reader will only identify a giant as a towering figure. If a storyteller fails to exaggerate the height of this character, the reader may have problems identifying with it.

A case in point is a scenario where a 5 feet character encounters one who is 17 feet taller. The first reaction from the shorter one may be outright intimidation. In most cases, humans are intimidated by anything that is larger than them. They will do anything to try and overcome that thing. The towering height is used to ensure that Frankenstein attains the much needed intimidating attributes associated with a villain.

In terms of physical attributes, the monster is depicted as a human who has had all their organs stitched together. The terror sought from a villain is often amplified by ensuring that their physical looks are not very appealing to the reader. Daragh (383) makes a similar assertion by insisting that monsters are essentially creatures that seek to instill maximum fear among people. To achieve this objective, the character that takes the role of the monster must be made as unappealing as possible.

At this juncture, the appearance of Frankenstein is symbolic of a typical scary monster. A tall figure of a man who is made up of body parts sewn together is already scary enough. According to Story (1), most humans associate body organs with death. As such, the monster that is Frankenstein is given a character that symbolizes death. Essentially, the physical appearance of the ‘creature’ is made horrid to ensure that the reader is intimidated and terrorized to the point of believing that nothing good can come out of it.

The physical appearance of Frankenstein connotes the various opinions held by a human with regards to real and imagined monsters. To illustrate this point, Story provides a comparative analysis of monsters and humans with defects. Story (2) suggests that the horror associated with ogres is a reflection of the thoughts held by individuals in relation to their counterparts who are afflicted by various disabilities.

In the thesis, Story (2) argues that dwarfs and giants are often characterized as monsters in various narratives. The towering figure of Frankenstein is used to illustrate gigantism. The condition often exhibits itself through distortions of the hormones responsible for growth. As such, humans who are afflicted by such conditions are regarded as strange apparitions by their peers. The same applies to monsters.

Frankenstein’s body, as mentioned earlier, is a series of organs and limbs that have been loosely bound together. Such kind of an appearance is symbolic, given the fact that the monster is created by a human being. His appearance is the imagination of a person keen on creating life (Story 3). In this case, the symbolic gesture is that Frankenstein personifies all the horrors created by human beings in the name of science.

An appearance like the one suggested above is an example of how monsters are depicted by individuals. Daragh (383) argues that grotesque characters derive their horrid attributes from their paranormal nature.

Frankenstein is an example of such a paranormal creature. The same explains why his interactions with people in the Story elicit fear. However, it is important to note that appearances can be deceiving. A look at the personality of the ‘monster’ will illustrate whether they are misunderstood creatures or not.

Emotional attributes of the giant

Many scholars and critics pose the question of whether monsters have emotions or not. Such individuals seek to understand whether or not the actions of these characters are driven by some form of the emotional deficit. Daragh (383) poses these questions as they try to make sense of the various themes illustrated in monster-related narratives.

Frankenstein, on his part, is depicted as a character capable of expressing emotions. Right after his ‘birth,’ he is keen on interacting with other people. The ‘monster’ gets emotional when he realizes that he cannot live alone. His desire for friendship drives him to seek the companionship of other people. However, his appearances scare everyone off. He is even branded as an evil person.

In most cases, monsters are highly misunderstood, creatures. In The Beauty and the Beast, a similar fate befalls the beastly character (Weaver 290). The monster in this narrative is a beast that was put under a spell to appear hideous. In spite of these various attempts to make friends with other people, his appearances relegate him to a life of loneliness.

At times, the character gets emotional owing to his lack of friends. The same situation befalls Frankenstein. His interactions with the rest of the society are likened to the manner in which a wild animal escapes a sanctuary. He is viewed as an outsider. People work on the assumptions that he is a giant who has escaped from ‘monster land.’

Perhaps it is the feeling of loneliness on his part that drives Frankenstein to seek friendship. Upon his creation, he clamors for companionship. However, the behavior of his maker shocks him even more. In what would be a classic case of a man creating life, the birth of Frankenstein should have heralded joy on the part of his creator.

However, the maker rejects him, setting into motion a series of events that would suggest sadness on the persona of the ‘monster’s.’ Story (3) uses the same analogy of emotional distress to explain the interaction between monsters and humans.

All forms of interactions result from the desire for emotional fulfillment. The only way one can have emotional satisfaction is through participation in societal activities. Frankenstein’s rejection by his own creator forces him to seek companionship elsewhere. However, due to his appearances, nobody wants to interact with him.

If anything, he only instills fear and terror among the people. Story (5) argues that classical monsters are creations of elements that desire companionship. When this companionship is absent, the characters tend to sink into an emotional abyss and sometimes engage in horrible acts.

The emotional conduct of Frankenstein is an illustration of human behavior. There are instances where people exhibit shortcomings in their appearances and personality traits.

When they are rejected by others due to circumstances beyond their control, their emotions are shattered. As a result, such individuals may end up confining themselves to their lonesome states (Weaver 291). The argument that monsters are a misunderstood lot is supported by the perception that their hideous appearances depict their attempts to attack human beings. However, this is not always the case.

Frankenstein represents the idea that monsters seek emotional satisfaction, just like human beings. The two forms of creatures share the same need for social and emotional company. Story (5) makes a similar assertion by arguing that the interaction between monsters and human beings should not always be seen as the former’s intent to cause terror.

Perhaps, ogres and giants are driven out of their world by the absence of emotional satisfaction, as was the case between Frankenstein and his creator. As such, it is prudent to be realistic when analyzing monsters in a narrative. To this end, attention should be given to their emotional status before passing judgment on their actions.

Frankenstein: The Articulate Monster

One of the most common traits of monsters is their inability to communicate. Daragh (384) suggests that most of these characters produce very intimidating sounds, such as roars and growls. It is very rare to find a monster that is depicted as articulated in speech. Interestingly, Frankenstein is quite capable of communicating, as illustrated in the novel.

He is capable of making coherent speech both with himself and with other people. The ‘monster’ is depicted as having traits similar to a civilized gentleman. He is able to engage in conversation in an action that goes against all the stereotypes of a monster.

As already mentioned in earlier sections of this paper, monsters are imaginary beings. In essence, they do not exist. However, their depiction in literary works of art has evolved over time. Story (2) supports this position by arguing that the phenomenal traits of these characters are changing ‘periodically.’

The thesis by Story (2) introduces the reader to monsters in different categories. The traditional giant is depicted as a brute. Such actions as eloquent speech and ‘gentlemanly’ behavior were not common among monstrous characters in novels.

Frankenstein belongs to the category of monsters that can be regarded as traditional. According to Story (2), such creatures are, at best, meant to inspire fright and terror. Everything about them is designed to scare away the reader. However, the case is different for Frankenstein. Regardless of his hideous looks, the monster’s ability to express himself is derived from his interest in literature.

The attribute is illustrated in the character’s ability to make reference to other narratives. The grammatical correctness with which Frankenstein articulates his issues is an example of the divergence of the character from traditional monsters.

There are other instances where monsters are depicted as having some grasp of a language. Story (2) suggests that most traditional monsters are unable to enunciate their words properly. An improvement in the roaring and growling of monsters is seen in the manner in which other horrid creatures are depicted as having incoherent speech.

However, the fluency and coherence of Frankenstein set him apart from other traditional monsters. Perhaps, he is not a monster after all, given his gentlemanly behavior. Frankenstein’s title of an ogre must have resulted from people’s reaction towards his appearance.

His articulate nature is also evident in the way he presents himself. Regardless of his intimidating looks, Frankenstein acquires a taste for the formal presentation. The development is evident in the manner in which the character learns the art of grooming as a measure of presentation.

While making reference to Frankenstein’s narrative, Story (2) suggests that the man learns all about grooming in less than one year. At the time, reading was considered to be the preserve of the elegant. Frankenstein demonstrates his cultural aptitude when he proves that he has the ability to read in French and German.

The eloquent nature of Frankenstein is a character trait that enables him to adopt an almost human persona. Such an attribute can be used to support the argument that monsters can turn out to be like humans if they are provided with the right environment to thrive.

Frankenstein: the determined monster character

When an individual is said to be determined, the first thing that comes to the mind of the audience is the resolute ability to achieve a certain objective. Frankenstein comes out as an individual intent on making friends with others. However, his monster personality discourages the formation of social bonds. Alker (110) suggests that most monsters are determined to fit into the human world. Frankenstein’s intention of seeking companionship from his MMaster and other people is an example of his determination.

Under many circumstances, monsters are depicted as a face of chaos whenever they are introduced in a narrative. According to Story (3), traditional monsters are often determined to perpetuate terror in society. However, Frankenstein deviates from this form of traditional desire. In his quest to fit into society, he goes to great lengths to develop the necessary behaviors. The same is evident in the way he teaches himself such habits as reading and grooming.

Determination can also be seen in the manner in which he decides to become vengeful. Frankenstein’s initial interactions with people are genuine and sincere. However, after facing rejection, he becomes spiteful. In their study, Weaver (287) describes rage as a characteristic that is largely associated with monsters.

It is apparent that vengeance is fuelled by the negativities the characters experience from people. In Frankenstein’s case, even his maker rejects him. The said rejection inspires his determination to “extract his pound of flesh” from people who demonstrate open hostility towards him (Weaver 287). The determination is an affirmation of the fact that all monsters draw their behavior from certain factors. As a result of their resolve, they are able to realize their objective, whether evil or good.

Desire for companionship

In the previous sections, it was determined that Frankenstein is not existing for the mere reason of causing terror like traditional monsters. As illustrated by his grooming abilities, it is evident that the character is interested in finding a person to comfort him. However, it is unfortunate that he cannot find friendship and companionship even in his own creator.

Alker (113) argues that most monsters find something worth attachment themselves to in the human world. As such, it is common to find a monster looking for friendship in humans, as was the case with Beast in “Beauty and the Beast.”

Companionship is one of the priceless aspects of life. Even among human beings, the absence of this element is known to bring out the worst in people. Frankenstein represents the many individuals whose desire for the company is endless.

There are certain narratives where the absence of companionship has the potential to give rise to retaliation, as was the case with Frankenstein. Once he realized that people were repulsed by his person, he resorted vengeance. Weaver (113) argues that such issues as a lack of social company among monsters are a trigger to their acts of terror.

Frankenstein’s monstrosity is highlighted in the manner through which he tortures and kills his victims. As illustrated by Story (3), traditional monsters are known to inflict harm upon their prey. When the reasons behind their acts are unearthed, it becomes apparent that they are vengeful. The monster that is Frankenstein can be said to be a creation of the rejection he faces in his attempts to find companionship.

Frankenstein the Lone Ranger

The moment this character comes to life, he realizes that he is a species on his own. At one point, he suggests to his MMaster that he would prefer to get a mate. However, his requests fall on deaf ears. Sloggett (126) makes reference to Frankenstein by suggesting that his loneliness is one of the reasons behind his need for companionship. However, the rejection he faces from other people isolates and drives him to loneliness.

The biggest blow as far as rejection is concerned is the hostility directed towards Frankenstein by the womenfolk. At one point in the passage, the monster appeals to the audience to empathize with his situation. He argues that humans have mates, while his heart remains shunned. He goes on to lament about his unfortunate situation, wondering why people reject him, while even animals have partners (Story 24).

The lone ranger in the monster becomes apparent when he resorts to his vengeance against humans. Even in his terror escapades, Frankenstein operates like a one-man army of assassins. Such habits suggest that he is a lone ranger. In addition, it is possible to determine his character as a loner by looking at the kind of food he eats.

Story (24) points out that Frankenstein was the only monster who does not eat meat. The comparison is made with reference to traditional ogres. Most conventional monsters are known to be flesh-eating beasts. Frankenstein’s habit of eating vegetables puts him in a league of his own as a lone ranger.

A hero

There are various instances where a monster is seen as the savior of people in a given situation. For instance, when Frankenstein ponders about his build, he illustrates to the audience that he does not have the normal characteristics of a man. According to Daragh (387), in classical times, superheroes were viewed as beings with extraordinary body features. Frankenstein, in a monologue, suggests that he has capabilities that are not possessed by normal men. The abilities include agility, build, and tolerance to weather, and a unique diet.

The bodies of most heroes are structured to respond to the demands of carrying out extraordinary tasks. Frankenstein is depicted as a character who is trying to come to terms with his body features. In the process, he asks himself fundamental questions as to why he exists with such an overly large and hideous body.

Story (34) argues in spite of their unpleasant looks; some monsters use their super-human abilities to benefit mankind. The same explains why Frankenstein is thinking very hard about his intended role, given that he has features that are lacking in mere mortals.

Frankenstein’s heroic nature may not have come out clearly in the narrative. However, his attempts to conform to the requirements of a normal life make him carry out extraordinary tasks.

For instance, his abilities to groom himself and learn how to read and write are examples of extraordinary tasks. Such an undertaking can be seen as a heroic act to a reader who is full of despair owing to certain shortcomings in their life. Daragh (390) introduces an aspect that would explain the benign superhero status of the monster. Daragh suggests that human negativity killed the hero and turned him into a villain.

Caring

Frankenstein describes himself as a character who presents both hope and despair. According to Alker (114), most monsters are capable of caring about others. However, the ability is hidden by the vile nature of their appearances.

In relation to his affection towards women, Frankenstein demonstrates how he will use the opportunity to provide love and care. In his monologues, he describes how he will be romantic to any lady who agrees to enter into a relationship with him. He argues out this point as if to suggest that ordinary men lack the care and affection capabilities he possesses.

At one point, Frankenstein decides to perform a heroic act by rescuing a dying girl. He does this regardless of the hatred directed towards him by the ordinary folk. The character uses his energy and time to rescue someone he has no ties with. Unfortunately, his caring nature does not endear him to the public. On the one hand, the spectators overlook the kind gesture and assume that he is about to kill the girl. Elsewhere, the girl’s father scampers for safety fearing that the monster intends to inflict harm on him (Story 7).

The argument that Frankenstein is caring transcends his heroic gestures. At the heart of the matter is a man who has been branded as a monster by members of society. He is regarded negatively in spite of his attempts to be a gentleman to these people. A wicked being would rejoice at the misfortunes of the people who have caused him harm.

However, help comes from unlikely quarters in the name of Frankenstein, “the monster.” Only a caring person would overlook societal hate and negativity and continue to engage in good deeds without expecting rewards in return (Daragh 388).

Vengeful

Many behavior patterns that connote terror are derived from people’s bitterness. Evidently, Frankenstein’s attempts to blend into the society are met with hostility from the members of the public. His own creator despises him.

The major reason behind this rejection and hostility is his appearance. According to Alker (114), unlike human beings, monsters do not have control over their appearances. As such, discriminative treatment results in bitterness. As illustrated, Frankenstein’s only desire was companionship with others. Instead, society treats him with a lot of hate. His only response is vengeance.

His vengeful behavior embodies his ruthless nature. As already indicated in this paper, Frankenstein engages in ruthless killings in spite of his earlier kind and caring nature. According to Story (2), the ruthlessness of monsters results from a direct provocation of their person. The same is true even in cases where the provocation was done in the past.

In the case of Frankenstein, the hate and spite he receives from society are seen as an irritant. By assuming that his appearances are intimidating, the society fails to understand that his looks are beyond his control. The actual trigger to the provocation is evident in the manner his own creator joins the hate bandwagon. The agony appears to be too much for him to bear. He fails to win over his own creator.

Conclusion

In this paper, the author highlighted a number of issues in relation to Frankenstein, the monster. Story (2) was used to introduce an element of traditional monsters. The author of this paper highlighted the characteristics of such monsters.

With regards to hideous appearances, Frankenstein fits into this profile. However, the actions of this monster are reactions to the hostile treatment he receives from people. Initially, Frankenstein expresses the desire to fit into human society. The aspirations are made apparent by his grooming and literacy skills. To this end, he defies most of the stereotypes associated with monsters, such as being chaotic.

In spite of his caring nature towards members of society, Frankenstein is not treated nicely. When it dawns on him that his own creator does not like him, his ruthless nature is revealed. Daragh (388) suggests that the behavior of individuals towards monsters is responsible for the latter’s character. The monstrosity associated with Frankenstein can be attributed to the hate and discrimination in society. As such, it is logical to conclude that monsters are a creation of people’s attitudes and behaviors.

Works Cited

Alker, Zoe. “The Monster Evil: Policing and Violence in Victorian Liverpool.” Social History 37.1 (2012): 113-114. Print.

Daragh, Downes. “‘Excellent Monsters’: The Railway Theme in Dickens’s Novels.” English: Journal of the English Association 61.235 (2012): 382-393. Print.

Sloggett, Maria. “‘Delirious Monologues’: Christina Stead’s ‘Egotistical Monsters’.” Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (2013): 121-128. Print.

Storoy, Ina Helen. The Evolution of Monsters in the Romantic and Victorian Eras, Seen through Frankenstein and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Diss. University of Tromso, 2013. Print.

Weaver, Harlan. “Monster Trans: Diffracting Affect, Reading Rage.” Somatechnics 3.2 (2013): 287. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "Mary Shelley's Monster in Frankenstein Literature Analysis." July 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mary-shelleys-monster-in-frankenstein-literature-analysis/.


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