Relationship between the characters


Frankenstein and the creature

The relationship between Victor Frankenstein and the creature he gives life to is central to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Both characters have our sympathy at different moments in the novel and they have notably similar characteristics. For example, both Frankenstein and the creature are guided by a mixture of reason and passion. 

Their changing relationship and roles within the narrative lead readers to question which is really the protagonist and which the antagonist. In the end, it is impossible to determine which is the real protagonist.

Frankenstein rejects the creature when he doesn’t live up to expectations

Frankenstein “worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body” (p. 58). While he works, he thinks that “a new species would bless me as its creator and source”, and argues that “no father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs” (p. 55). Before animating the creature, Frankenstein does not consider that the creature could be unhappy. He also fails to consider his responsibility towards the creature. He believes the creature will obey and love him. 

However, when he “saw the full yellow eye of the creature open” (p. 58), he is filled with “horror and disgust” (p. 58). As soon as the creature comes to life, Frankenstein feels he has made a mistake and runs away from it. Frankenstein’s rejection of the creature foreshadows society’s rejection of the creature. Frankenstein does not make any attempt to communicate with the creature and immediately labels it as a “wretch”, “miserable monster”, and “demoniacal corpse” (p. 59). 

The creature believes Frankenstein has a moral obligation 

We only begin to understand the creature’s point of view when he insists on telling his own story in Volume Two, after he has murdered Frankenstein’s young brother and framed Justine Moritz. When the creature appears, Frankenstein’s immediate response is hate, but the creature tries to explain:

‘Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? […] Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king, if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me.’ (pp. 102-103)

Here, the creature implies that ...

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