Analysis Of Chapter 3 Volume 3 "frankentein"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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With careful examination of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, the reader can see how Shelley adverting or inadvertently toys with her characters, playing with the reader's mind. It is unclear how the reader should interpret Victor's breaking of his promise; is it noble and valiant, or simply selfish and stupid. It is certain that the reader becomes confused by the way Mary Shelley describes the situation unfolding in this passage.

Throughout this passage (vol. III chpt. III) Shelley contradicts her description of the creature; not in a physical sense, but rather exchanges the feeling of empathy felt by the reader for the creature for one of shocking disapproval. Victor is disgusted by his creature, and his language throughout the narrative clearly shows this. Shelley manipulates her readers in to thinking the that creature is truly horrid and monstrous, in physical as well as in personal characteristics, by using such words as "demonic", "devilish", "abhorrence", and "wretch".

These are powerful words, which conflict with Shelley's previous representation of the creature. "I was a poor helpless miserable wretch; I knew, and could distinguish nothing; but feeling pain invade me on all sides, I sat down and wept". (vol. II chpt. III) Shelley's previous representation of Frankenstein's creature is intelligent, gentle, and in need of some tender love and care. Before this passage the creature could be pitied, not seen as such a demonic character. In fact the creature can be seen as understanding and compassionate, for example, helping the cottager's and trying to comprehend their way of life. Perhaps victor could have soothed the creature if he acknowledged the humanity within the monster. The creature only needed to be loved, and in the absence of this affection the creature has no other choice but to become the monster.

Before this chapter, the monster is, in his reflections, embodied with many human characteristics; Until the "howl of devilish despair", when all notions of the monster's humanity are questioned. The whole passage alters or at least confuses the reader's feelings towards the monster. Whom is the reader supposed to empathize with? Is it love and companionship that will stop the monster's trek for revenge? Although these questions are never answered throughout the novel and left up to interpretation, the reader must agree that this passage is an introduction to the antagonist. The question is who is the antagonist? "As I looked on him his countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice and treachery.... and with a howl of devilish despair and revenge withdrew". Up to this point the reader does not know whether or not to feel for the creature. With the 'howl of devilish despair' the monster becomes the master in this mephistophelian attempt for satisfaction from vengeance. Is the monster still gentle? Does he still embody those human characteristics? The reader is confounded with a dilemma, is the monster truly giving in to those characteristic monster tendencies, by letting vengeance take over; or is the monster simply hurt because Victor broke his promise and ruined his only chance of a somewhat human life? Shelley genuinely perplexes the reader by allowing the monster to possess the human characteristic of loneliness. Only humans are said to have this characteristic of needing "love" to live. Therefore, the monster must be good or considerably human like, because he has that need, and that is why he asked for a companion to be made. Perhaps, the monster could be contemplating the mass destruction of humanity by a "race of devils" created by him and his woman companion to take over the world. Victor seems strangely concerned for the world and the harm his creation might cause it. "I shuddered to think that the future ages curse me as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price perhaps of the existence of the whole human race". Although it may seem as one of Victor's attempts to be noble and brave, others can argue that he is being selfish by not choosing to save his family over strangers; not to mention destroying all chances of the creature becoming more human like. For the first time in the novel Victor takes a stand, and his character evolves from a passive mild man to an aggressive monster killer, with his destruction of the woman creation. One must wonder if this stand came at a good time considering the predetermined outcome of this action. Is the reader supposed to side with Victor's decision because it will save his soul; or with the monster because we pity him for being in this situation? Victor's attempt to create the superhuman, is in some ways, similar to the catholic parable of God vs. Lucifer the archangel. Lucifer thought he could do a better job than God; similar to Victor's attempt to surpass God by creating a better human. Lucifer's constant struggle with God, relates to Victor's constant struggle with the creature. In the end Lucifer loses the battle and is cast in to hell; Victor never catches the monster and dies. The integrity of Victor is questioned with the similarities he has with Lucifer, leaving the reader wondering whether or not Victor is symbolic of Lucifer and is truly evil. Is Victor's struggle with the creature a metaphor for the struggle between God (good) and Lucifer (evil)? If read a second time, taking in to account the catholic parable mentioned above, the reader can see how similar the passage is. Victor, as being Lucifer, who is conspiring to beat the creature, who is God, at his own game; instead of fighting for heaven, they are fighting for revenge.

There can not be good without there being evil. The reader can not feel empathy for a character unless the character is essentially good, and has something evil or bad happen to them. For example, Shelley's initial portrayal of the creature is intrinsically good. Then the reader is reminded of Victor's treatment of the creature, which is obviously bad. Whom is the reader supposed to empathize with? Is it Victor because the monster has destroyed his life, or is it the creature because he is lonely and just wants to be loved? Shelley leaves the reader baffled with the many questions she leaves unanswered throughout the novel. Shelley obviously uses this passage to confuse the reader, by toying with her characters to create an absolute uncertainty to who the antagonist and protagonist are.



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