“There is love in me the likes of which you’ve never seen. There is rage in me the likes of which should never escape. If I am not satisfied int he one, I will indulge the other.”
The famous gothic novel ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley follows the doomed downfall of the rich, and ambitious Victor Frankenstein during the late 1700s. Due to compassionately succeeding in creating a ‘monster’ from the leftovers of death, he disrupts the balance of nature and suffers as a consequence. Immediately after creating this fiendish creature, he is terrified and therefore makes the terrible mistake to abandon and neglect the creature thus forming a destructive and bitter enemy set on ruining the life of Victor for bringing him into a hateful world. The creature holds the four traits of a gothic protagonist and in this essay, I will be explaining how he fits three of these traits, dualism, passion and drive and the need to control the protagonist.
The creature displays the trait of dualism, as he isn’t a one-sided character who only wishes to complete sinister acts, as shown by his gentle and kind nature shortly after being introduced into the world. During the chapters in which the creature narrates, it is clearly shown that he isn’t innately evil like Victor assumes and through the hatred and disapproval of society, the creature evolves into a vengeful killer hellbent on the destruction of Victor’s life for creating him into a world which despises him. The kind nature of the creature is shown by his actions towards the De-Lacey family, “when they had retired to rest, if there was any moon or the night was star-light… went into the woods and collected my own food and fuel for the cottage.” These unnecessary acts of kindness display one of his opposing traits and prove that he wasn’t initially vengeful against the human race and that this devoted hatred was developed due to being attacked, feared and abandoned by any hope of companionship. There is a drastic change in the creature’s nature, now become more threatening and having nothing to lose, brings torment on Victor for failing to create a female counterpart, breaking the stated deal “comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.” Now pulling no punches once Victor fails to comply, he displays the trait murderous and vengeful which contrasts with his early innocent nature and by killing Victor’s loved ones he acts against his early actions of helping the De- Lacey family, therefore displaying dualism.
The creature displays the trait of being passionate and driven, as he becomes focused on seeking love and companionship and once Victor fails to provide this, the creature becomes driven by vengeance to make Victor suffer and eventually destroy his life. The creature continuously reiterates his envy over the fact that the De- Lacey family have their close family as companions, Victor has Clerval and even expresses jealousy over Satan himself, self loathing himself by mentioning that “…my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and abhorred.” The creature understands that nobody wishes to be his friend, not even his creator wishes to be close to him so much that he becomes repulsed by his own appearance. Though Satan is a horrid and devilish being, he has companions to worship him despite his horrid countenance and this is what the creature wants. Only his fellow devils could love Satan, being the same horrid and terrible specimen, which leads him to eventually believe that only one of his species with the same scarring defects could love and become a companion to him and he becomes driven to obtain a female companion from Victor. This passion is crushed by Victor, who fails to create a female counterpart for the creature and now enraged and abandoned by any hope of love, the creature is driven by revenge, deciding that “…if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear, and chiefly towards you my archenemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred. Have a care; I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heart, so that you shall curse the hour of your birth.” The creature is now solely driven to causes chaos and destruction on Victor, having no love or need for affection left for him and turning to hatred and desolation for pleasure. He swears to act on his promise of revenge and once succeeding in murdering all of Victors close companions, he takes pride and satisfaction from seeing Victor crumble and become as lonely and miserable as the creature.
The creature displays the trait of having the need to control the protagonist, putting Victor in a mental prison through means of blackmail and torment. As mentioned before, the creature demands that Victor create a female companion who can love and provide much desired happiness and to obtain this wish, the creature threatens Victor by giving him the tough and morally corrupt decision to comply or detest. The creature uses his deformed and inhuman stature to his advantage and having superhuman capabilities he is able to overpower the physically deprived Victor. This concept of dominance over Victor is established when the creature enforces that “…I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict.” This analogy compares the creature to a snake, who is typically portrayed as a vicious predator, who eyes its prey with every move and once the prey steps out of line the snake locks its fangs into the enemy and injects the venom, the victim slowly then succumbs to the poison. This is the same with the creature and Victor, as there is a dominant and submissive relationship between the two due to the creature’s threats. The creature however struggles to maintain this control when Victor changes his morals for ‘the greater good’ when “…for the first time, the wickedness of my promise burst upon me; I shuddered to think that future ages might curse me as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price, perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race.” This willingness to lose his family as a sacrifice to prevent a new race of superhuman monsters from overthrowing the world meant that the creature could no longer threaten him with Victor’s weakness of losing his family and therefore can’t control him anymore.
In summary, I believe that the creature in Frankenstein holds the three traits of a gothic antagonist, dualism, passion and drive and the need to control. The necessity to uphold these traits ultimately becomes the creature’s downfall, battling with trying to be loving to others while being driven by hatred and revenge and the desperation to obtain what he wishes through control makes him lose touch of hope once his wishes aren’t fulfilled and causing him to eventually kill himself.