As a child, Victor Frankenstein’s every whim is indulged, every opportunity presented to satiate his overwhelming curiosity of the world around him.
“Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.” (Ch 2)
His ultimate goal is to understand everything around him, to grasp the reasons for action, and to understand the cause behind life. This immense thirst for knowledge and hunger to conquer life propels him on a mission to create it.
Unfortunately, for Victor, he succeeds. His success, though, is not what he imagined. He is disgusted and horrified by his creation. As soon as the life he has given his creation begins to take effect, he immediately wonders why he has undertaken such a deed. He rejects his creation and refuses to think about it, pushing it as far from his mind as much as he can. (I’d say he does a pretty good job, as he manages to put the creature out of his mind for two years. That’s right. Two. Whole. Years.)
And therein lies the problem. Victor, whose every passion and curiosity has been indulged from a young age, who has been lauded and praised for his discipline and his genius, does not have the integrity to take responsibility for his actions. Upon seeing his creation come to life his immediate thought is that his actions have been unsuccessful. Things have not gone according to his plan; therefore these things are apparently no longer his responsibility. I could not understand this behavior, and therefore I could not forgive it. What person, calling himself a scientist, can undertake an experiment, and then abandon that experiment without pausing to consider the outcomes this abandonment may cause? Without pausing to consider his duty as the conductor of the experiment? For all his previous undying curiosity about life and everything to do with it, he displays an alarming lack of curiosity about the result of his actions.
I could not fathom it. My entire face was a question mark during that scene.
He literally goes and hides under his bed covers when he sees his creature get up and move. It doesn’t even attack him. He’s just that repulsed by it. And then he runs out into the church yard or something. And then just forgets about it. It vanishes from his sight, and his (apparently affected) mind as well. I mean, REALLY. How can you ignore something like that?
It seems to me that Frankenstein is just as much of a monster as his creature. The creature does do unspeakable things, but each crime can be linked right back to Frankenstein and his neglect. Even before I’d read this novel I was aware of the layer of tragedy that this novel carries. But that tragedy is more pressing after reading it. I can’t help but feel immense pity for the creature. Frankenstein curses it, believing that his creature’s actions stem solely from evil. Yet, the creature demonstrates to him several times that this is not the case. Frankenstein laments the fact that he even created this abomination, but he does not pause to reflect that all the sorrow in his life might have been avoided if he had acknowledged his responsibility to the creature; it is not the creation of the creature, but the neglect, which brings about the calamity.
For the creature proves that given the opportunity it can exercise great compassion and understanding.
“Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.” (Vol. 2, Ch. 2)
The creature has abilities which are limited by the darkness to which it is forced to cling; his desire to love is eroded by the wilderness to which he is shunned. In a way, his restrictions are an extension of the limitations Frankenstein faced in his scientific pursuits; and just as Frankenstein’s powers explode in what he deems as his horrible creation, the creature’s untended abilities also explode in devastation and tragedy. Their inevitable connection means that the creature’s crimes are Frankenstein’s crimes, too.
Perhaps Frankenstein’s neglect of the creature is also a reflection of the lack of proper guidance in science given to Frankenstein. His initial studies of the outdated philosophers are laughed at, and though he proves himself to be a genius at Oxford his rise is largely undeterred and undisciplined by anyone, least of all himself. But I couldn’t find in myself any sympathy for Frankenstein. The fact that he did absolutely nothing about his creation until he heard news of its destructive behavior appears to be a gross misstep. The fact that he was so determinedly able to forget the creature’s existence is amazing to me; and his consequent neglect of his creature is unforgivable. Genius, without disciplined application is only useless, but destructive.