Grab Your Brein by the Rein

To me, the most interesting and important part of the entire novel is the way that Frankenstein’s creation literally comes to life. Prior to reading through Frankenstein, my general conception of the world, science, and technology in general is that each exists as a tool or crutch for society to bend to its own will. This novel shows that all of these creations can take on a mind of their own (perhaps not to the same literal extent that the monster did…yet) and become something truly terrifying if not taken care of.

I think that this mindset flows over into the ethereal realm as well, the things that we dream up inside of our heads. While the monster gains control over its own body, Victor’s mind becomes warped and wrapped around a singular mindset. He becomes so entranced by the idea of capturing the monster and saving Elizabeth that his entire psyche reforms around this idea. While the monster story may be a bit far-fetched, the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s slowly deteriorating state of mind certainly isn’t. There are plenty of stories on the news about people who have gone mad in one way or another. We’ve been gifted with this great present of a brain, yet it still holds the power to destroy us from within if given the chance.

I wonder if Victor would have ended up in a similarly dire state had he never created his monster. I believe that he actually would have at some point, because his mindset is just naturally so unstable that something would have set him off his rocker at some point. It is likely that he would have remained fairly normal and stable for much of his life, but I really like to imagine him as a crazy old  man in an old person’s home just yelling at everybody about the monster he created in his dreams. I don’t think I would like him very much though, because he would probably just be mad all the time while throwing small objects at the people working there to be a pain.

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Stop Watching Star Trek

It’s interesting how insecure men with ardent imaginations seem to be the source of reckless passion. Before starting Frankenstein I was reading a book by Lawrence Wright called Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief about Scientology and it’s creator L. Ron Hubbard. Shelly’s description of a young Frankenstein reminds me of Wright’s description of a young Hubbard. Both men rejected modern science and were led to their creations by fantasies of the supernatural and both were sexually frustrated. What does that mean we should do about every nerd, geek and dweeb out in the world now? Quick, get them all on a dating show!

Frankenstein grew up reading accounts of ancient science and black magic. Upon moving to Ingolstat for university and meeting his professor M. Kempe, Frankenstein learned that all his knowledge from the authors that motivated him to pursue a life in science were considered a joke compared to modern science. Although he rejected what the professor was saying he decided to learn the science they wanted to teach him while continuing to pursue his real interest.

As a child, I had not been content with the results promised by the modern professors of natural science. With a confusion of ideas only to be accounted for by me extreme youth, and my want of a guide on such matters, I had retrod the steps of knowledge along the paths of time, and exchanged the discoveries of recent enquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchymists. Besides, I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power, such views, although futile, were grand; but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the enquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those vision on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth. (Shelly, 26)

We clearly see a conflict between Frankenstein’s values and those of his society. While knowledge of modern science allows him to understand natural occurrences (“realities of little worth”), the ancient sciences (black magic, witchcraft) promise “chimeras of boundless grandeur” – glorious discoveries that wield real power rather than power through knowledge and understanding.

Hubbard struggled with modern science too and decided to create his own science.

Throughout his youth, Hubbard was fascinated by shamans and magicians. . . . What a lot of people don’t realize is that Scientology is black magic just spread out over a long time period. Black magic is the inner core of Scientology–and it is probably the only part of Scientology that really works. (Wright, 45)

Prior to establishing Scientology, Hubbard spent most of his time writing sci-fi for pulp fiction with the hopes that the stories would get him attention from Hollywood in what Wright calls “a long-term, unrequited romance” (Wright, 28). Still, Hubbard currently holds the world record for publishing the most titles of any author – 1,084 titles in total (Wright, 24). His most popular book, Dianetics, serves as the basis of Scientology. “It ain’t a religion,” Hubbard writes to his friend. “It just abolishes it….It’s science, boy, science” (Wright, 57). The self-help-esq book sold very well when it was released in 1950 which stupefied the scientific community.

“This volume probably contains more promises and less evidence per page than has any publication since the invention of printing,” the Nobel physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi wrote in his review of Dianetics for Scientific American. “The huge sale of the book to date is distressing evidence of the frustrated ambitions, hopes, ideals, anxieties and worries of the many persons who through it have sought succor.” (Wright, 65)

Ouch! After reading a review like that, how could someone keep working on something that is now scientifically-deemed a piece of crap? It’s the lure of the medium these men were raised on and as Frankenstein explains, these writers were “lords of my imagination” (Shelly, 22). “I took their word for all that they averred, and I became their disciple” (Shelly, 21). For these two men, reality was unsatisfying and full of problems that modern science wasn’t capable of solving.

Another harsh reality these men faced was the opposite sex. Frankenstein, although engaged and married (very briefly) to his childhood companion Elizabeth, never had intimate (sexual or nonsexual) relations with her while they were together. During his time away from home he only writes Elizabeth at her anxious request. “I have written myself into better spirits, dear cousin; by my anxiety returns upon me as I conclude. Write, dearest Victor – one line – one word will be a blessing to us” (Shelly, 42). Alone this evidence isn’t very compelling of a man with a sexual insecurity. But add this to the mix: I have a theory that Shelly, intentionally or not, wrote Frankenstein as gay – or at least “attracted to men” – based on his description of M. Waldman on page 27. From this I’m lead to conclude  Frankenstein is at least in some state of sexual dissatisfaction. I wish I could tell Frankenstein “It Gets Better!” but for him it does not get better.

Although confident of his sexual orientation Hubbard was sexually frustrated. In a very private journal whose contents came to light during a court hearing (not so private anymore!), Hubbard reveals not only a teenage-like lust for women but also a deep insecurity over their power to humiliate him. Below is a mantra that he recorded and played back on a loop while he slept as a self-hypnosis technique. Warning: they are quite amusing.

I can write.

My mind is still brilliant.

That masturbation was no sin or crime.

That I do not need to have ulcers anymore.

That I am fortunate in losing Polly and my parents, for they never meant well by me.

That I believe in my gods and spiritual things.

That my magical work is powerful and effective.

That the numbers 7, 25, and 16 are not unlucky to me.

That I am not bad to look upon.

That I am not susceptible to colds.

That Sara is always beautiful to me.

That these words and commands are like fire and will sear themselves into every corner of my being, making me happy and well and confident forever! (Wright, 52)

Hubbard suffered from both adultery and impotence and later in his journal expressed concern over his “very bad masturbation history” (Wright, 51) which is particularly funny because in his 20s and 30s he participated in several occult “experiments” in which he was required to perform such a task (one of the ceremonies was called “Babylon Working” and it’s purpose was to impregnate a young (willing) woman with a “moonchild” which becomes the Antichrist. This “experiment” took place every night for a month until the woman became pregnant. A few weeks later she decided to abort the Antichrist.).

It seems that these sexually-frustrated men take their inhibited passion and built-up frustration and unleash their “creative power” on a dark magic conquest resulting in monsters that roam the world freely and unguided. The cases of Frankenstein and Hubbard demonstrate “acts of sexual power” overcompensating for sexual insecurity.

Knowing that Frankenstein is a character that exists in nonfiction. What is Shelly saying about the nature of man? That sci-fi/fantasy stories are bad? No, because she’s a sci-fi/fantasy storyteller. That an unhealthy relationship with women leads to problems? Possibly, Shelly is a woman. That monstrous creations can be anything you contribute to this world? Yes! And that blind passion can be dangerous? Yes! And that what you make and contribute to this world won’t just float idly by like an old dutch couple on a tandem bike? It might, actually, if you’re the old dutch couple, but it could cause much more action – big or small – good or evil – Playstation 4 or Xbox One.

Monsters are Created, Not Born

The biggest idea I took from reading the end of Frankenstein is that monsters are created, not born. Through inability to receive love and acceptance in society the monster is created. He is over and over again rejected and outcasted from the norms of society. Not one of the humans he encountered could look past his hideous nature and give him a chance. I think humans perceive largeness and ugliness with danger, and that is the underlying reason for their terror.

“One of the best of these I entered, but I had hardly placed my foot within the door before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons , I escaped to the open country and fearfully took refuge in a low, hovel, quite bare, and making a wretched appearance after the palaces I had beheld in the village.”(123).

Over and over again, he is attacked. This leaves him with one possible reason for existence, to be evil, to attack as they attacked him. To seek revenge on the man who created his ugly nature that leads him to exile of society. The monster tale is one of sadness, he is beaten down until he can take the pain and suffering no longer and acts on all he has left. Seek revenge.

The monster was not a monster in the beginning, he resembled an infant. He was a sponge to knowledge, wanting to learn and be accepted. The norms of society he could not fit, and to exile he was doomed.

“Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? (141)

Did Frankenstein create the monster or did the normalities of society and human race?

To Perish by Ice

Thus ends the struggle between Victor and his creation. It is a sad story, one filled with despondency and grief. We can all agree that Frankenstein is a masterful work of literature (it’s prolific success even two hundred years after its creation serves as a testimony to this claim). Though I have been reading this book for only slightly more than a week, I have become attached to it. I felt an inner emptiness as I read of the creation’s rejection from human society, and I mourned with Victor as he saw the ones he loved fade away into oblivion.

 

As I turned page after page, I was eager to see the story come to its long-awaited conclusion. After reading the ending, I feel a sense of fulfillment with how everything turned out. It is depressing, yet utterly beautiful. One of the components of the ending that I thought contributed greatly to this beauty was the setting. No other story comes to mind in which the setting so greatly impacts my approval of the work.

 

My initial excitement over the setting comes from the mere imagery that the place invokes within my mind. I see towering glaciers, hear howling wind, and feel the flow of a sea coursing beneath the ice. This place is like no other sea. “Oh! How unlike it was to the blue seasons of the south! Covered with ice, it was only to be distinguished from land by its superior wildness and ruggedness” (152). To end such a deep story in such a dramatic place is, well, epic.

 

As Victor journeyed forth into this remote, region, I could not but further think about why Shelley would want to end it all here. It is far from Geneva, and it is a place that we have not encountered so far.

 

At this thought, I paused. Maybe we have seen this place before. In fact, I think that we are all too familiar with the freezing reaches of the North. In a way, both Victor and his creation came to epitomize the Arctic. Through rejection, death, and isolation, they both become almost empty inside. The North itself represents this emptiness. It is desolate, devoid of life. There is no happiness, or any other emotion conducive to life, left in either of the characters.

 

But wait, a second round of thoughts makes me think that my prior conviction is wrong. In fact, I am convinced of this. Both Frankenstein and his creation are not empty, but rather teem with compassion and love. Frankenstein, in his pursuit, dreams of his family and friends and recollects them with “agonizing fondness (151). Even the creation admits his remnants of compassion: “Oh, Frankenstein! Generous and self devoted being!  What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? (162). Just when we think that the creation is nothing more than a monster, we catch a glimpse of the love deep within him. The teaming sea beneath the ice represents these feelings of compassion within both characters. If the sea becomes too powerful, it will break the ice and destroy the entire landscape. Both Frankenstein and the creation had to cast away their feelings of love so that they could pursue each other into the wilderness. In the case of Victor, he would have died prematurely if he reminisced too much on the love he had for his fallen family and friends. For the monster, reflecting too much of the love that he had for human life and acceptance would have made him falter in his rampage. Both of their feelings of compassion, therefore, were locked beneath icy rage and revenge so that they could live long enough to subdue one another.

 

I also find it interesting that both characters compare themselves to fallen angels. Victor claims that he had fallen from his great destiny, while the creation reflects on in his behavior toward human beings. In Inferno, by Dante, Satan is depicted as trapped waist deep in ice. Is there a possible connection? Could it be that Shelley’s final setting is meant to represent the extent to which both characters have fallen?

 

Yet, as we consider the final declarations of both the creator and his creation, we have difficulty claiming that one is good and one is evil. Do they not both deserve our sympathy? However, we blast Victor for his initial rejection of the creation, and the latter character for its destructive acts. It is indeed mysterious. We still struggle to figure out the inner workings of the monster and the man. Perhaps the North, in its dark mystery, represents the incomprehensible nature of humans.

 

And finally, does the adventure of Walton into this wasteland communicate the impossibility for man to completely conquer or understand nature? Both Walton and Frankenstein failed at their tasks. The monster and the ice serve as a reminder that maybe we can’t fully master the workings of the natural world.

 

With all of these interpretations in mind, I find myself enchanted by this final setting in the novel.

Last Man On Earth

If I was Frankenstein I think I definitely would have just completed the female monster and moved on. In that situation you would have a lot on your mind. What if they produce offspring and take over the world? What if the female monster doesn’t like his original creature? What if the female monster is worse and goes on a rampage killing everybody? I understand where Frankenstein’s thoughts are coming from. My first thought would’ve been worrying about the monster’s reaction. This was obviously what pushed the monster to kill everything Frankenstein knew and loved.

Frankenstein constantly wanted himself or the monster to die so there would be peace. I think he feels that this will put an end to his failed project. I thought his speech to the members of the ship was very interesting.

“What do you mean? What do you demand of your captain? Are you then so easily turned from your design? Did you not call this a glorious expedition? And wherefore was it glorious? …”

Frankenstein tells the shipmates to see their journey through because they were the ones that wanted to go on the trip. I felt like he was almost talking to himself about finishing the project of the monster he had created. Even if the project was a failure, he feels he needs to see it through to the very end.

I also can see where the monster is coming from at the end. Everywhere he goes everyone’s afraid of him because he looks terrible. He grows tired of seeing everyone around him have the ability to receive love. On page 164 the monster states:

“But when I discovered that he, the author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments, dared to hope for happiness; that while he accumulated wretchedness and despair upon me, he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions from the indulgence of which I was ever barred, then impotent envy and bitter indignation filled me with an insatiable thirst for vengeance.”

He kills everything Frankenstein loved because he wanted to make Frankenstein understand how he feels. The monster has to observe the humans emotions of love and happiness, but never gets to fully experience them himself. No human being has ever not had another human being around them. I can’t imagine being the only human on earth. I would feel extremely lonely if I didn’t have anyone to talk or love. Then you would just die and have nothing to look forward to.

This got me thinking. Why do we live(“enjoy”) our lives? Why don’t we just do enough to survive and die? If you were the only human on Earth, you could just live your life and die. You wouldn’t know any better. There’s emotions deep down that want us to pursue happiness. From the first time you experience pleasure as an infant, you constantly want to repeat that feeling. As you grow up, you look to build friendships. Later, you look for someone to marry and start a family with.

Shelley’s Archaic Dichotomy

As noted in several previous blog-posts, one of the many dichotomies consistent throughout “Frankenstein” is that of Nature vs. Science. Shelley makes it clear which to her is superior; she condemns Frankenstein to a miserable fate as punishment for his pursuit of scientific progress, while Clerval stands as a shining beacon of happiness through his appreciation of all things “natural.” Throughout his wretched wanderings, Frankenstein continually ventures to places of magnificent natural beauty — alpine lakes and winding rivers — in search of temporary solace from his all-consuming anguish.

Throughout the reading, this theme becomes clearer and clearer. Throughout the reading, I found myself more and more displeased with her message, and the existence of this dichotomy in the first place. Science is not something unnatural, not some brand of sorcery, but simply the systematic study and application of nature itself. When a monkey uses a stick to catch bugs, or an otter a rock to crack sea urchins, it is not unnatural. Just so, neither are more complex human innovations. In creating life, Frankenstein did not disrupt nature, but instead explored one of its many previously unexplored capabilities.

To defy nature is, in fact, impossible; anything that takes place in the natural world must be inherently natural. The dichotomy presented supports a purely dogmatic worldview — that certain actions are locked within the realm of the “supernatural,” and for a mortal to attempt and succeed at taking part is the ultimate sin, bound to inflict irreparable damage and suffering on the human-race. Using the monster as her mouthpiece, Shelley urges her audience to “seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries” (208).

Her lesson is to squelch the desire to overstep the boundaries which contain men and impede greater understanding. Had Frankenstein not pursued such a lofty innovation, he would have spent his days cradled in his family’s warm embrace, instead doomed to perish among strangers in a frozen wasteland.

In breaking apart Shelley’s dichotomy, however, I do not wish to establish an inverted one of my own. Just as “disruptive” human innovation is not evil, nor is it intrinsically positive in consequence. Scientific progress itself is neutral, and must be judged based on its application. When Einstein helped invent the atomic bomb, he created an instrument capable of destructive power previously reserved to the gods — and destroy it did. However, most would posit that its use caused less destruction than had it not been created.

By refusing the genesis of a second monster, Frankenstein turned away from building his own atomic bomb — a scientific creation that could have either put an end to impending suffering, or multiplied it tenfold. “I did right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature” (207), he declares on his death bed. In the end, he is content with his decision to cease playing-god, and Shelley places an exclamation point on her case against “gambling” with nature.

While Frankenstein should have been more comprehensive in his foresight, I think that Shelley goes too far in her condemnation of his actions. Do you think that, as stated in Connected, “growth for growth’s sake is cancer,” or is this a mischaracterization?

Disclaimer — I would  like to admit a personal bias: I am an entrepreneur, always trying to think up better, more innovative ways of doing things. Even if it “ain’t broke,” I still want to fix it. In my circles, “disruption” is a golden word, and, like Frankenstein, I know I’m not the most responsible of innovators, usually preferring to take the “jump-right-in” approach, rather than cautiously testing the waters. Don’t worry though, my “little monsters” aren’t going to be eating you anytime soon…hopefully. I just wanted to better frame the post with regards to it’s author.

Mary Shelley: The Most Boring Killer Ever to Live

In comparison to today’s movies and television series, Mary Shelley’s kills of her characters in Frankenstein were completely boring to me. It may sound slightly bitter to desire more details on such a morbid topic, but I feel that every death (and there were a lot of them) could have been described in much more detail.

The death that was particularly disappointing to me and led me to this discussion was that of Victor’s wife, Elizabeth. On page 145, Victor says, “I escaped from them to the room where lay the body of Elizabeth, my love, my wife, so lately living, so dear, so worthy. She had been moved from the posture in which I had first beheld her…” This was the only real detail given of the passing of Elizabeth, and I find it to be, frankly, boring and unexciting. This should be a part of the story line that really gets the reader excited and curious to keep reading. I feel as though Shelley should have had the monster sneak up and kill Elizabeth right in front of Victor. This would have caused a more interesting follow up and chase of the monster rather than the boring single missed gunshot and search of the lake.

Another death that I found rather boring was that of Victor’s father. He is killed off very suddenly and rather unexpectedly. Shelley writes, “He could not live under the horrors that were accumulated around him; the springs of existence suddenly gave way: he was unable to rise from his bed, and in a few days he died in my arms.” (147). I actually had to read this passage several times to make sure I understood because I was so surprised that this happened just two pages after the death of Elizabeth. I was still thinking of the disappointment of Elizabeth’s boring passing when seemingly out of nowhere Shelley hits us with another lame death.

Do you believe that Shelley intentionally left her deaths vague and boring as she did with the creation of the monster? Or do you disagree completely that the deaths were boring and poorly written?

Holes in Victor’s Tale

Is Victor Frankenstein’s character really believable? I want to believe what Shelley is trying to say about nature, technology, etc. here but Victor’s character is standing in the way. The details I want to know about aren’t included at all and I find it really difficult to become fully invested in his tale. We have already addressed how the lack of details about the monster’s creation can be excusable given when this novel was written. Fine, I’ll give Shelley the benefit of the doubt on that. What really doesn’t connect for me are Victor’s descriptions of his pursuit of the monster through the wilderness. “I generally subsisted on the wild animals that crossed my path. I had money with me, and gained the friendship of the villagers by distributing a small part,” he says.

Wait, so hunting and preparing wild animals for consumption just came natural to the academic city slicker? Maybe it did to him, but wouldn’t he have at least maybe struggled the first time and lost ground on the monster? Also, what would villagers living in desolate parts of the European wilderness do with the money he gave to them? Shelley seems to have just provided information that was convenient, when describing Victor’s journey. Maybe I’m just being too much of a contrarian and the details Shelley just kind of brushes over really don’t matter all that much. I still find it hard to believe that Victor’s survival skills morph into those of a superhuman, though.

“As I still pursued my journey to the northward, the snows thickened, and the cold increased in a degree almost too severe to support,” he describes, “The rivers were covered with ice, and no fish could be procured; thus I was cut off from my chief article of maintenance.”

Okay, so how did he sustain himself then? Did he just keep traveling across the tundra and not eat, drink, or rest? His sudden acquisition of superhuman qualities was intriguing, but very hard to believe. Again, maybe the destination was more important than his journey, but it seems that in order for readers to fully invest themselves in Victor’s miserable life, the details of the journey would be more significant.

The Law of Equivalent Exchange

In the anime and manga Fullmetal Alchemist the principle rule behind all creation or destruction is the law of equivalent exchange.  Alphonse Elric explained it best:  “Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s first law of Equivalent Exchange.”  In Frankenstein the creation of the Monster caused Frankenstein to live a half-life as the monster he created would only experience a half-life according  to the law of equivalent exchange.

From the time that Frankenstein created the monster his very life began to drain from him. His health deteriorated steadily throughout the story, and so did his happiness.  The monster did not start to take happiness from his creator until the chance of happiness was ripped from him. When left with no hope of ever having true happiness he deprives Frankenstein of exactly the same thing. “Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. ”(pg 123) The law of equivalent exchange in action. By taking away a promise of a wife, the same was taken from him.

You can see the law in effect as the health of Victor declines. As the monster gets more powerful, as shown in his deliberate and planned killing of Victor’s friends and family, Victor gets weaker.  He becomes more frequently subjects to bouts of illness. Each emotional shock he experiences appears to completely break him.  As the monster worked it did not satisfy him because it did not bring him happiness. “For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires”(pg 165). The desolation of Victors life at first seemed to complete the monster but they are the same and by killing one you kill the other.

My question for the class is: in what pieces of media do you think can relate back to the book?

Monstrosity Begets Monstrosity

An argument was brought up in our last class: that knowledge, Frankenstein’s knowledge of natural philosophy, and the creature’s knowledge of human civilization, were followed hand in hand by misery. In a way, I would say this is true: the creature’s learning of the goodness of men only set him up for greater pain upon his rejection. Victor’s knowledge (or even the anxiety of knowledge to come) of the creature’s deeds were, in almost all cases, followed by extreme malcontent. Even Elizabeth’s knowledge of a terrible truth that Victor would only reveal to her upon the day after her wedding night brings upon her a sense of uneasiness, apprehension, and foreboding. “Thus Elizabeth endeavoured to divert her thoughts and mine from all reflection upon melancholy subjects. But her temper was fluctuating; joy for a few instants shone in her eyes, but it continually gave place to distraction and reverie. (238)”

I assert, that it is not knowledge that caused the hardships of both Frankenstein and his creature, but the absence of rationalism. From the very beginning, Victor acted impulsively with respect to his creation: he shut himself away from the world for the labor of his creation, not allowing his outward appearance to affect his progress. He chose to take no precaution to the creature’s life: no steps were made to assure that the creature would not get out of hand. And when the creature inevitably did get out of hand, no effort was made to deal with the situation until it manifested itself upon him again.

In addition I argue that, were the creature blessed with any more rationalism than what his creator lacked, many of his hardships could have been avoided. The creature freely admitted to Frankenstein that the manner in which he approached the De Lacey family was partially responsible for causing their abandonment. Latching on to a frail old blind man in the hopes he might champion a perfect stranger to his family was wishful thinking, at best. And then, when viciously attacked by Felix, fleeing from the assault instead of attempting to dissuade the family with words could not have helped his case. The monster (and he is indeed a monster at this point and not just a creature) acted out of brash impulsive revenge toward William and Clerval when, I argue, it would be damning enough merely to reveal one’s self to Frankenstein’s family. This monster learned eloquence, persuasion, and even written speech from his stay at the De Lacey cottage, why did he not use these tools?

How could rationalism have helped Victor deal with a murderer attempting to pick off members of his family? Elizabeth suggested Victor forget the murderer of William and instead dwell on the remaining happiness of their family, but wouldn’t it have been prudent, at any point between Victor’s meeting the monster in volume II up until his return to Geneva to marry Elizabeth, to mention that this murderer was still at large and had demonstrated a will to commit death to those Victor held dear?

Most damning I feel, are Victor’s actions surrounding his second creation. Though he considers himself a slave of his monster’s will at this point, he is at least convinced that the monster will follow him, and will attempt to steal away the female creature upon its completion. He comes to the conclusion that releasing a second monster upon the world would ultimately be worse for humanity than allowing the one monster to torture him, and this is reasonable I feel. He has dozens of options at this point, many of which can be leveraged to gain an advantage. Even the problem of the monsters creating a race of devils could be dealt with – Victor is creating this female, after all. But instead, in a fit of impulsiveness and irrationality after just a glimpse of the monster’s face, Victor destroys the only bargaining chip he has with an adversary his physical superior. Gone is any chance for Victor to set a trap for his monster with the world’s most surefire bait, impossible now to put the monster into a situation in which his strength would not afford him any advantage.

Victor Frankenstein’s greatest competitive advantage against the solitary monster is the strength he and his fellow humans have in mutual defense. He mentions peasants willing to help him on his last journey into the frozen north simply because he is chasing the fearsome thing, much less Walton and his expedition. And yet, for the entirety of the novel, Victor refuses to leverage this advantage.

An intelligent being such as Victor need not have told anyone the truth about the nature of his creation for help to have been provided to him – not the magistrate who didn’t believe him, or even Walton’s expedition (though the story would have been far more mysterious). In fact I feel as if Victor isn’t just talking about the monster when he says that “He is eloquent and persuasive, and once his words had even power over my heart; but trust him not. His soul is as hellish as his form, full of treachery and fiendlike malice. Hear him not; call on the names of William, Justine, Clerval, Elizabeth, my father, and of the wretched Victor, and thrust your sword into his heart. (259)”. It is a shame, then, that the less hellish of the two would seek only to outdo the other in its inhumanity.