Shelley describes a psychological progression of events which perfectly coincides with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, correctly establishing each of the aspects which make up the hierarchy, as well as the decline if one is unable to attain each subsequent level. Victor is frightened by his creation and leaves the creature, and as a result the monster demonstrates the struggles of climbing this hierarchy of needs.

Activity One: Explain where the monster is on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, describe situations that have caused him to go up or down the hierarchy.

The monster desires to meet physiological needs: “I felt tormented by hunger and thirst. This roused me from my nearly dormant state, and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees.”

The monster meets safety needs: “At length I perceived a small hut… finding the door open I entered… I was enchanted by the appearance of the hut: here the snow and rain could not penetrate”

The monster struggles to meet love and belonging needs: “I asked, it is true, for greater treasure than a little food or rest: I required kindness and sympathy.”

Activity Two: Choose a fictional character – e.g Archie from Riverdale, Bart Simpson, a character from Shortland Street. Then do the following.

a) Create a short list of some of the behaviors this character has exhibited.

Victor Frankenstein exhibits behaviors such as having a need to know, being among nature when in grief and madness and blaming his monstrous creation for his mistakes. He has morals which go against society and though he is very intelligent he makes stupid and later regretted mistakes.

The monster however is who I will focus on, as he is educated in various ways depending on what psychological approach you view his behavior as. He learns to adapt and imitate others, learning by trial and error of what not to do by society’s standards and by observing society and adapting his behavior in order to fit in. The monster fits the hierarchy of needs in the humanistic approach, as he struggles to find love and belonging once finding his basic physiological needs.

b) Explain the character from the point of view of each major psychology perspective.

The monster from a behavioral perspective: The monster believes that with interaction of people (neutral stimulus) comes pain, danger and discrimination (unconditioned stimulus) and due to this pairing of these two stimulus, it created a conditioned stimulus which was to cower and avoid people. This is an example of operant conditioning.

The monster from a socio-cultural perspective: Whilst the monster narrates the story late in the novel, he observes the Delacey family and learns through their interactions how to talk and how to do various things, thus learning by observing what he sees from this family and behaving like how they do, therefore learning from society but without prompt or the family knowing that he is observing.

Victor Frankenstein from a psychoanalytic perspective: Victor fitted this psychological perspective more than the monster, so I decided to use him as an example. Victor uses numerous defense mechanisms in order for the ego to cope with being under threat by the superego and ID. He tries to cope with loss and guilt by using such defense mechanisms as projection, displacement and rationalization  against the monster and repression, sublimation and suppression to cope with grief and guilt (out of sight out of mind when the monster leaves and by going on hikes or planning the wedding as opposed to trying to sort out the issue with the monster).

The monster from a humanistic perspective: Explained at the top of the post.

   The monster from a biological perspective: This theory would suggest that the monster was born evil, due to the brain and  other body parts that Victor had created him from and given life, having previously belonged to numerous other now deceased  people, therefore having already been biologically wired, the monster obtained a mixture of the same genes and localisations of functions as those who previously held his body parts. This explains how he has superhuman strength, as Victor picked the best body parts and therefore better genes and likely an already well developed and working brain to create the monster from.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Hi Lucas, how awesome that you have found such a great point to cross over your subjects!

    You are absolutely right, Frankenstein’s monster adheres to this theory and you have illustrated it well.

    Well done 🙂


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About Lucas

"Writing gives you freedom to create your own world, your rules, your characters and your imagination"