Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus can throw light on various ethical aspects’ of people’s behavior. For example, one can speak about the responsibility that scientists should take for the long-term implications of their actions. This literary work produces a strong impression on many readers, in part because the author is able to create a memorable character who commits various atrocious acts. He is often described as the Monster by the narrator; nevertheless, readers should ask who the real monster is. In this novel, Mary Shelley focuses on the concept of free will as well as the forces that shape the moral choices of a person. This is the main theme that the writer explores; in this way, she prompts the readers to think about the causes of misfortunes that struck many innocent people. Overall, Mary Shelley strives to show that despite the horrendous acts of the creature, he deserves compassion; moreover, one can say that Victor Frankenstein, who breathed life into this creature, acts much more cruelly because he does not even think about the suffering that he unintentionally causes. This is the main thesis that should be discussed in greater detail.
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The author lays stress on the despair and helplessness of the monster created by Victor Frankenstein. In order to illustrate his experience, one can look at the following quote, “It was dark when I awoke; I felt cold also, and half frightened, as it were, instinctively, finding myself so desolate” (Shelley 129). Overall, some literary critics argue that the life of this monster can be described as the failed quest for “social sympathy” (Britton 3). The main problem is that other people perceive him only as the Monster that does not have the inner world. Thus treatment is probably the main reason why he accepts evil an inseparable part of human life. Moreover, he does not understand that other people do not deserve his cruel treatment. The narrative constructed by Mary Shelley shows how this lack of sympathy transforms the creature. This is one of the issues that should be identified because it is important for understanding the subsequent actions of this monster and his attitudes toward other people.
Additionally, one should keep in mind that this character does not intend to harm other people, before he encounters the cruelty of the society. In fact, this idea seems to be unacceptable to him. More importantly, one can speak about his willingness to help a family struck by hardships. Only when his assistance is rejected by other people, the monster becomes frustrated. This is one of the reasons why he says, “I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (Shelley 243). Moreover, he begins to search for the person who exposed him to suffering. One should keep in mind these feelings go unnoticed by other people. Victor Frankenstein does not even admit that this creature is capable of feeling. This issue can be important for evaluating the actions of the main characters. Moreover, it is vital for the discussion of ethical questions raised by Mary Shelley.
Apart from that, one should speak about the behavior of Victor Frankenstein. This person enjoys the ideas of conquering nature. This character thinks that he “will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.” (Shelley 243). Nevertheless, this person is horrified by the monster as soon as he sees him. More importantly, he avoids thinking about the life of this monster. The destiny of this creature is of no concern to him. Therefore, one can say that that Victor Frankenstein is an irresponsible person who does not think about the implications of his actions. This is one of the issues that should not be overlooked. It should be mentioned Mary Shelley’s novel is often used for the discussion of such issues as social responsibility and scientific ethics (Hammond 190). To a great extent, this novel provides many valuable lessons to people who perceive themselves as creators. To some degree, this argument can be relevant to parents who need to ensure the development of their children. In turn, Victor Frankenstein does consider this issue; in fact, he tries to turn a blind eye to it. Moreover, when this character thinks about the actions of his creature, he becomes mostly concerned with the idea of revenge. Nevertheless, it does not occur to this person that he could have contributed to the tragic outcome. This is the main moral flaw of this person whose intelligence does not enable him to feel empathy for his creature. Therefore, this individual can be regarded as the main villain of the novel, even though he continuously speaks about his good intentions.
Admittedly, one can argue that the actions of the monster cannot be exonerated; moreover, one cannot shift the blame only onto Victor Frankenstein. One should keep in mind that the monster murders many innocent people. For instance, one can mention William, Clerval, or Justine. Moreover, this people did not harm to him in any way. Mary Shelley does not deny the importance of free will. Thus, an individual should concentrate on his/her moral choices. This is one of the details should not be overlooked. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that this character could be compared to a clean slate at the time when he was brought into existence. During his life, he encountered mostly cruelty, and he learned to take it for granted. However, the possibility was completely overlooked by Victor Frankenstein who did not even think about the risk. This is why he does not understand why this monster can harm innocent people. These examples are important for the analysis of the ethical issues raised by Mary Shelley. The author is able to illustrate conflicting viewpoints on the nature of people’s moral choices. Moreover, the author strives to show that sympathy is critical for an individual, and it is essential for his/her socialization; otherwise, he/she may come to the conclusion that cruelty can be something acceptable. The main problem is that Victor Frankenstein’s creature was denied empathy. This is one of the details that should be considered.
On the whole, this discussion shows that Mary Shelley’s novel illustrates a variety of ethical problems such as the responsibility of the creator and free will. The author demonstrates that the monster created by Victor Frankenstein deserves compassion because from the day of his birth, he was exposed to suffering. Moreover, Victor Frankenstein can be regarded as a careless individual who does not want to think about the consequences of his actions. Moreover, the protagonist cannot accept the idea that he contributed the tragic outcome. These are the main details that can be distinguished.
Britton, Jeanne. “Novelistic Sympathy in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Studies in Romanticism 48.1 (2009): 3-22. ProQuest. Web.
Hammond, Kim. “Monsters of Modernity: Frankenstein and Modern Environmentalism.” Cultural Geographies 11.2 (2004): 181-98. ProQuest. Web.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein, New York, NY: Broadview Press, 1999. Print.