Write an Essay on the Relationship Between Frankenstein and the Creature, and Compare/Contrast Their Relationship with That Exhibited Between Two Other Characters in One Other Text.
This essay will examine the relationship between two sets of characters in two different books. In Mary Shelleys’ Frankenstein the relationship between Victor Frankenstein and The Monster he created will be discussed, by analysing both characters relationship to each other before detailing the effects this relationship had, on the others actions and how it led to their eventual downfall.
In Matthew Lewis’ The Monk the relationship between Ambrosio and Matilda will be analysed and then compared to the aforementioned relationship in Frankenstein in order to highlight any similarities or differences in Ambrosios’ fall from grace as opposed to Victors. In order to compare the relationship between Victor and The Monster it is important to highlight the traits and events that shaped Victor Frankenstein before he created The Monster, as it appears that Victor was so affected by his creation, that the creation of the ‘catastrophe’ and the events which unfolded signalled the end of Victor Frankenstein as he had previously existed.
Victor was a highly motivated and intelligent young man who had a secure upbringing and a healthy social base as he matured. He was afforded the opportunity to learn about science and became totally obsessed with how far he could delve into the mysteries of life through his study of forgotten works of ancient alchemists. Victor in many ways mirrored the explorer Walton in his ambition to discover ‘those shores which I so ardently desire to attain’. He was so focused on the prize that he lost sight of his responsibilities and must be attributed a portion of the blame for the creatures fall from innocence.
Victor is driven and shaped by his ambition and single mindedness as he sees only the value of science in his creation and ultimately fails to nurture ‘his child’. His time spent working towards his goal and largely cut off from humanity may have caused him to lose part of his humanity alluding to the title of the ‘Modern day Prometheus’. Although ambition and scientific brilliance were abundant in Victor, a lack of paternal guidance and nurture towards his creation begins The Monsters descent from humanity and on to a path of isolation and murder.
His actions, or lack thereof have a dramatic consequence on himself, as he is transformed from the creator of life to a man obsessed with the destruction of the life he has created. Alternatively The Monster was born fully formed yet without knowledge, so could be compared to the birth of a baby, mentally at least. From the moment of his creation Victor rejects him which lays flawed foundations for The Monsters psychological development. When Victor awakens in his bed to find The Monster standing over him staring and smiling he is unsettled and rejects him again.
If we think of this moment and replace The Monster with a child, who would have inevitably been in this scenario with one of their natural parents, we may say that the Monster was looking for security from ‘its father’. This occasion only served as a missed opportunity for nurture and bonding between the two and set the tone of The Monsters future place in society and relationship with each other. The appearance of The Monster horrifies Victor and this reason for rejection, is then commonplace among all of those who come into contact with the creature.
Victors’ lack of guidance as a paternal figure, which The Monster viewed Victor as, was undoubtedly detrimental to his intellectual and moral development. This too is touched on in Victors childhood when he makes reference to his fathers’ lack of guidance of the science literature he was reading, “If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded…I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside and have contented my imagination…by returning with greater ardor to my former studies”.
If this was to be believed then it may be argued that Victors father may too shoulder some responsibility for the lack of a nurturing spirit in Victor and indirectly the development of The Monster. The Monster learned about society from the periphery, looking in and without the growth structures and parameters that were traits in Victors’ upbringing. Due to this he does not know the boundaries of correct human behaviour and has not been taught what is socially or morally right and wrong. Instead he has learned it from books such as Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and from his observations of the Delacy family.
It is this recognition of his ability to perform intellectual realisations made evident in his reference to Milton “remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel”, that allows Victor to eventually recognise him as a human being and no longer merely a personification of a scientific experiment. This however is overshadowed by his hatred of The Monster for the murders of firstly his brother and causing the death of Justine, but later his wife and best friend Henry.
The Monster hopes that by telling Victor of the compassion he has witnessed and heard from his time watching Felix and Safie that Victor may allow a relationship to develop but this has the opposite effect and highlights the fact that because of the secret of The Monster, Victor allowed Justine to die. The relationship between the two evolves throughout the novel. In the beginning we view Victor as a god like creator of this being. Victor has the power over the monster at this stage and uses that power to reject him and leave him to find his own way in society.
During this time the Monster who is intellectually inferior views Victor as a father figure but when he realises that Victor has created him in a way that will leave him unable to integrate into society and therefore isolated he develops hatred for Victor and this evolves into desires for revenge all of which shape his character, “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend” . In many ways they caused each others isolation from society as in order to create The Monster, Victor was forced to exclude himself from society whereas The Monster due to his appearance, a flaw of Victors’ handiwork, was forced to exclude himself from society.
In many ways the two characters are polar opposites of one another. Victors’ outward appearance is in contrast to the hideous nature of The Monster. While The Monster looks for guidance and a relationship, “Victor rejects him. Victor Frankenstein destroys his humanity for the sake of a “break through” not properly belonging to man”. Victor is restricted in some degree by his feelings and memories of a nostalgic upbringing as well as a developed moral code. The monster has no such restrictions and his actions reflect that. Due to the effects of one on the other, they have ruined any chance the other might have to lead any sort of normal life.
Although The Monster has been living self reliantly and blames Victor for his predicament he sees Victor as his only chance of happiness. At this point the relationship is changed as The Monster becomes the dominant force in the relationship by convincing Victor to create him a mate. Victor agrees as he feels that it will be the only way to rid the world of its evil. But it is this that makes Victor realise, while making the second abomination, his lack of authority over The Monster will manifest itself again in relation to his new creation. Victor makes a transformation at this point from creator when he destroys the creature.
His actions have a direct consequence on The Monster who, realising all hope is lost, makes it the purpose of his life to make Victor feel his pain by killing Henry and Elizabeth. As Victor destroys The Monsters future chance of social integration so too does it set about destroying Victors. With his social safety net gone and his faith in science destroyed he commits himself to the destruction of The Monster. The Monster makes his last stage of his transformation from son to master as all of Victors actions are now determined by his hate of the creature which gives the power in the relationship to The Monster.
A similar theme of isolation is evident in The Monk as Ambrosio lives a secluded life in a Capuchin monastery in Madrid where he has lived virtually since birth. “The precondition of the ethical universe explored by Lewis is Enlightenment secularism, the decision that man should be understood in terms of mankind alone. ” In this novel the protagonist too breaks fundamental social and moral codes which lead to his downfall and similarly it is the introduction of a supernatural character which is at the source of the problem.
Ambrosio has very little contact with society and is highly confident in his faith. As Victor was blinded by his vanity so too is Ambrosio as his misplaced confidence is the result of a secluded existence meaning that he has not had the opportunity to test his resilience of his faith and has led quite a sheltered lifestyle. His vanity is alluded to at the beginning of chapter 2, “‘Who,’ thought he, ‘who but myself has passed the ordeal of youth, yet sees no single stain upon his conscience… I seek for such a man in vain… Religion cannot boast Ambrosio’s equal! ’ ”.
His temptation comes in the form of Rosario a young novice monk who Ambrosio feels strangely drawn to, only to learn from Rosario that the young monk is actually a woman named Matilda who has hidden in the monastery, disguised as a monk in order to get close to Ambrosio who is the object of her affections. Ambrosio decides to keep her identity a secret and although he initially resists her advances he eventually succumbs to temptation and an affair ensues. His religion which up to this point has maintained the social order becomes less a guiding influence in Ambrosios’ life as he falls further under the influence of his passions and desires.
Just as Victor lost everything in his life that could have re-integrated him into society so did Ambrosio. Prior to this event he had his faith and what he perceived as a healthy love for the Madonna as well as the moral standing in the wider community. With the introduction of Matilda these things were lost as they were for Victor in the arrival of The Monster. Until this point he has only felt emotion for one other female figure and that was for the Madonna. He sees her as the only woman which he can feel a deep connection with, “What beauty in that countenance!.. Oh if such a creature existed, and existed but for me! This is recognised by Matilda who sees that he has repressed feelings of a sexual nature towards the Madonna and uses them to commence an affair. As the novel uses this relationship to open the doors on a juxtaposition between religion and his sexual desires the total breakdown of the social and moral order are fully realised when Ambrosio solicits the help of Matilda, who practises black magic, to conjure a demon that enables him to rape Antonia and murder her Mother Dame Elvira. “Ambrosio at first refuses this momentous step: if he has sinned grievously, he is nonetheless unwilling to renounce all hope of eventual salvation. When Lorenzo informs the authorities to the actions of Ambrosio who he witnessed leaving the scene of Antonia’s rape he informed the authorities and had the result of a warrant being issued to burn the disgraced monk at the stake. At this point Ambrosio allows himself to be convinced by Matilda to make a pact with Satan to avoid his fate which he does only to learn from Satan that he has just killed his mother and raped his sister before the devil kills him and takes his soul to hell. Like Victor, Ambrosios’ only links back to humanity are destroyed by the monster he has created.
In conclusion both novels highlight the dangers of blind ignorance on the part of the protagonists to recognise their weaknesses. Had either Victor or Ambrosio lived a life where they were not isolated from their respective communities the outcome may have been different and the complete disintegration of their moral fibres may not have occurred as an outside influence may have kept them in check. The lack of a positive relationship between Victor and the monster is undoubtedly central to the plot of the novel and this relationship transformed from one where Victor was in the driving seat to one where the Monster became dominant.
In ‘The Monk’ the relationship between Ambrosio and Matilda is what drives the narrative and is the biggest obstacle to Ambrosio saving himself just as it is between Victor and The Monster in ‘Frankenstein’. Bibliography Shelly, Mary; Frankenstein, Introduction and Notes by Dr Siv Jansson (Wordsworth Classics 1993). Ed. Davies, David Stuart; Lewis Matthew: The Monk; (Wordsworth Classics 2009). Virtue and Terror: The Monk Author(s): Peter Brooks Source: ELH, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Summer, 1973), pp. 249-263 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www. stor. org/stable/2872659 . Accessed: 15/02/2011 15:00 Gothic versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel Author(s): Robert D. Hume Source: PMLA, Vol. 84, No. 2 (Mar. , 1969), pp. 282-290 Published by: Modern Language Association Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/1261285 . Accessed: 15/02/2011 15:19 The Tale of Terror Author(s): James A. Preu Source: The English Journal, Vol. 47, No. 5 (May, 1958), pp. 243-247 Published by: National Council of Teachers of English Stable URL: http://www. jstor. org/stable/809277 . Accessed: 15/02/2011 16:35