Upon the conclusion of Frankenstein, a prevalent theme is that beings are born inherently good, but it is through experience that traits like evil and monstrosity are learned.
In all essence, society creates its monsters.
This is evident in the creature’s dialogue with Walton, as the creature explains:
“Evil thenceforth became my good” (222)
This proves he was good at first and acquired the trait of evil. In fact, he even says he hates himself and does not enjoy his crimes, exclaiming,
“Think you that that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears? My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy” (222)
This quotation encapsulates the creature’s miserable existence, as from creation he had benevolent intentions, but felt forced by mankind to commit evil acts. This is confirmed when the creature explains he is not the master but a slave of his actions, not able to disobey his evil impulses, no matter how tortuous (222).
This metaphor explains that society is the creature’s master, and he is a slave to mankind’s cruelty, forced to do despicable things in search of acceptance and a companion. The creature brings up a very important idea, inquiring:
“Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me?” (224)
Is the creature to blame for his actions? Shunned by all, even by his creator, who should have loved him unconditionally? The injustice present throughout Frankenstein is that humanity hates the monster they created.
Interestingly, the creature references Milton’s Paradise Lost, which, in some aspects, mirrors his situation. He explains,
“But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil” (222).
Many forget that Satan was once an angel too, pure enough to reside in heaven. But at some point, evil replaced Satan’s good as well.
In Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve were made innately good, created after God’s image, but it is the serpent that convinces Eve to do evil and eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. The serpent can be seen as experiences on Earth that shape an individual.
In Frankenstein, it is logical to see mankind as the serpent, and more specifically Victor, as they shunned the creature, “whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness” (Shelley 223).
This forces the creature to cross moral boundaries, from which he can never return.
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