Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Frankenstein's Change of Heart

From the very start of his tale, Frankenstein reveals himself as an arrogant, spoiled man. Victor contemplates the idea of his success in creating life and thinks, "[a] new species would bless me as its creator and source" (49). He honestly believes that once he has successfully created a living being, the being will worship him as its "creator and source." It is not a stretch to say that Frankenstein envisions himself as a godlike figure in this instance. He is, after all, creating life. The thought of his new species thinking of him as a god is more appealing to him than any recognition he might receive for such a groundbreaking advancement in science. Frankenstein, still contemplating the future in which several of his beings exist, thinks, "many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me" (49).  Here, Frankenstein does two things. He assumes that any being he creates will simply be "happy and excellent." He does not even consider the possibility that whatever he creates may in fact be imperfect. In addition, Frankenstein takes the idea of how his creations will think of him one step further. He states that they will "owe their being to [him]," almost as if his sole purpose for creating life in the first place is to collect a pile of perfect living beings on which to climb to the top of the world. Frankenstein assumes that because he granted his creations the gift of life, they will owe everything that they are and everything that they may achieve during their existence, solely to him. This is not only a completely pig-headed, power-hungry notion, but it is simply disturbing for Frankenstein to automatically think of these other living creatures as beings existing to serve him.

Frankenstein's attitude toward the creature once he is alive greatly differs from the naive idealistic future he imagines before the creature's first breath. Once he sees the appalling countenance of the monster, he immediately rejects it. He simply abandons the fantastic science project that he has been slaving over for months on top of months. It is curious that Frankenstein does not stay to try command the being into submission before fleeing, because, according to his initial thoughts, the being would most definitely be willing to submit himself to his direction. Nonetheless, Frankenstein flees from the abhorrence he has created and does not again face the monster for a while. When he does encounter the monster, he vocalizes his hatred for it. In his fit of rage, Frankenstein shouts, "[c]ursed be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first saw light! Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that formed you!" (108). This is one of the most shocking moments in the novel because Frankenstein, the almighty scientist and creator of life, curses himself. He expresses his regret and admits the fact that he made a terrible mistake. This is very uncharacteristic of Frankenstein because, usually, he is extremely confident and would never ever admit to making a mistake or to creating anything imperfect.

Seeing his creation and actually confronting him challenges everything Frankenstein knows about himself. He finally realizes that he is not the perfect human and he has made a grave mistake in creating the monster. He would never go as far to admit that abandoning the monster was a mistake, but this seemingly small admittance of responsibility is remarkable.

2 comments:

Adam Lewis said...

Okay, there are numerous examples of Frankenstein's change of heart from the beginning of the novel to the end. However, what point (or analysis) are you trying to make and which Prompt are you replying to? I'm assuming that you're addressing prompt 2 about changes in arguments, but I'm not sure that this is a change in argument so much as a, as you say, change of heart. If you meant this to be a comment and not your blog, I'm sorry I got it confused.

I think it would be a good idea to preface your blog with an introduction so your readers know the exact argument you are trying to make. In addition, I would add some more examples as there are numerous and more specific examples to make and the prompt clearly states that the argument should be made more than once and change through the course of the novel. However, you really need to analyze whether this is an argument that changes or just something that changes in Victor's perception of his work.

Adam said...

I'm pulled in a couple directions by your first two paragraphs. On the one hand, they pay close attention to details of the text. Granted, we went over some of this material in class, but some of your details - e.g., his curious focus on the happiness of the creatures who exist only to serve and glorify him - are very well chosen. On the other hand, you're struggling to really find an argument of your own.

For instance: "This is not only a completely pig-headed, power-hungry notion, but it is simply disturbing for Frankenstein to automatically think of these other living creatures as beings existing to serve him." This is dangerously close to simply stating the obvious - you are identifying some really interesting things (again, my favorite is his supposed interest in their happiness, but also the strange speed with which he totally transforms and acts differently), but then you aren't really asking what they mean, or where you go from there.

Then, you more or less simply end. You are correct that his refusal to admit specifically that the abandonment was a mistake is very interesting - yet he does admit, however reluctantly, to other mistakes. So you need to take this curious fact and figure out what it means. Why does it say that he refuses to admit this particular mistake? How can we read the rest of the novel in the light cast by that insight?