The Analysis of the Monster of Frankenstein: Man or Brute What is the difference between man and beast? The answer to that question is as grey as the gloomy clouds that constantly hang over Dr. Frankenstein’s head. Mary Shelley’s characters Dr. Frankenstein and his monster from her novel Frankenstein blur the lines between civilized and animalistic. Before chapter ten the monster is an ominous character, only being seen a few times. The true disposition of the character has yet to be established.
Through the setting of the passage, and rhetorical questioning Mary Shelley builds on the motif of redemption and using invectives is able to build layers of depth and complexity of the character. Shelley characterizes the monster as isolated, self pitying, vulnerable, and aggressive. Mary Shelley uses the dismal and frigid setting of chapter ten to indirectly characterize the monster as isolated and cut off. During the paragraphs preceding the meeting of the monster and Dr. Frankenstein, he orates the scene in great detail, saying that “A mist covered the surrounding mountains.
Presently a breeze dissipated the clouds, and I descended upon the glacier” (Shelley 80). The description generates an icy and desolate ambiance surrounding the setting right before the entrance of the monster. By introducing the monster into a dismal and frigid atmosphere Shelley deepens the layers of the monster’s character by creating an indirect link between him and the setting. The setting is elaborated when the monster himself describes his habitat by saying, “dreary glaciers are my refuge” and “These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow-beings” (82).
Shelley repeatedly uses the word “glacier,” first when Frankenstein describes the scene and again when the monster describes them as his “refuge”. The word glacial, which means of ice, or icy, builds the foundation to make the connection between glacial and the synonym frigid. Also, the utilization of words such as “dreary” and “bleak”, which are synonyms with dismal, reinforcing the fact that the monster, himself feels more secure in the remote and abyss like caves than in civilization.
Therefore, he is an isolated creature cut off from the human world, which leads to the formation of feelings of indignation towards humans and his self pitying nature. Through the use of rhetorical questioning Shelley expresses the monster’s feelings of indignation, inducing the characterization of his self pitying nature. Feeling wronged by humans, especially his creator, the monster eludes to his distress through questions such as, “Have I not suffered enough that you seek to increase my misery? (81). The monster uses phrases like this in the effort to make Dr. Frankenstein aware of the pain he has inflicted. However, Dr. Frankenstein is not remorseful for his actions, so again the monster floods Frankenstein with statements such as, “am I not alone, miserably alone? You my creator abhor me” (82). The “misery” that the monster refers to is the neglect and rejection that he feels from his creator, which in return fuels his hatred towards humans, and his feelings of sadness for himself.
The repetitive use of the polarizing structure of “I” verses “You” shows the monster’s tendency to blame Dr. Frankenstein for all his misery in order to feel the gratification of his self pitying actions. In the eyes of the monster the only way to justify the matter is for Frankenstein to accept him. The motif of redemption is prevalent throughout out the passage as the monster pleads for it, which characterizes him as vulnerable. The monster beseeches Frankenstein for redemption and acceptance by saying “I am thy creature…
Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam” (81). In the simile of the monster and Adam, the monster hints at the fact that he has sinned, and yearns for compassion and redemption from his creator. Like Adam in the biblical story when he sinned and ate from the tree of knowledge he became aware of his nakedness. In the context of the monster the nakedness represents vulnerability. The comparison of Adam and the monster is used by Shelley to bring humanistic characteristics to the monster by hinting at his corruption and vulnerability.
On multiple occasions the monster says “I entreat you to hear me” (81) and “How can I move thee? ” and again saying “Listen to my tale” (82). At least three separate times the monster pleads for a chance. By asking for redemption the monster puts himself at the mercy of Dr. Frankenstein, making himself emotionally vulnerable. The layers of the monster are built by having constant contrast between the monster emotional vulnerability and physically dominance.
Mary Shelley contrasts the monsters emotional vulnerability with physical aggressiveness; shown through short invective outbursts. After seeing that Frankenstein was unmoved by his plea the monster resorts to contemplating physical retaliation. The invectives, short intense emotional verbal attacks, can also be described as verbal threats. For example the monster says, “Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind…but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends” (81).
The graphic threats towards Frankenstein help to characterize the monster as aggressive. Not only does the monster threaten Frankenstein’s friends he threatens all humans saying “deliver them from the evil… Not only you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage” (82). As the passage goes on the threats become darker and more horrific contemplations, resemble more animalistic than civilized thoughts.
Shelley clouds the line of reason on whether or not the monster is human or beast. Mary Shelley is able to create an antagonist with such depth, by using the setting to indirectly characterize the monster as isolated and cutoff. She comments on the natural need for acceptance and how when this is not met, it leads to the formation of emotional vulnerability. Shelley adds complexity to the monster by exploring the cause and effect relationship between the lack of acceptance of his creator and his constant need for Dr.
Frankenstein’s affirmation. The aggressive tendencies shown in the text through invectives as threats, also hints at the monster’s animal like origins. This passage is essential to the understanding of the monster, because it offers immeasurable insight to the minds and mannerisms of the characters. The lines that separate human from brute become blurred and the criteria for being a man are questioned. Work Cited Shelley, Mary. “Chapter 10. ” Frankenstein. New York: Penguin Group, 2000. 78-83. Print.