The creature


Outer characterization

The creature is the other main character in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He is created by Frankenstein out of parts of dead bodies: “I collected bones from charnel-houses and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame. […] The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials.” (p. 55)

Frankenstein describes the creature’s appearance in detail. The creature’s frightening physical form is the source of much of the story’s horror. Moreover, the creature’s appearance is important because it stops him from integrating into society. Although he wants to make friends and to help the poor people he has been watching, they judge him on his appearance and attack him. 

Frankenstein explains that he makes the creature “about eight feet in height” (p. 54) because the small “fibers, muscles, and veins” (p. 54) are difficult to work with. Although he intends the creature to be beautiful, the result is the opposite:

His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! – Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips. (p. 58)

When Frankenstein comes across the creature again in the mountains, he claims that “its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes” (p. 102).

Inner characterization

The creature is characterized both through Frankenstein’s descriptions and through the creature’s own narrative of his experiences, which appears in Volume Two, chapters three to eight. Readers’ first impressions of the creature suggest that ...

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