Revenge in 'Frankenstein' Essay

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“Yellow skin, black lips, and a shriveled complexion” are all gruesome descriptions of the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The monster’s ugly appearance is frightening to society, and the people see him as something less than human, or as an “other.” Victor Frankenstein, a well-known scientist in society, becomes isolated and decides to create a companion for himself that has similar personality traits. Victor’s creature represents society’s rejection of people (including himself) who don’t fit within social norms, which leads to isolation, abandonment, and distrust of others. In the book, this rejection causes his own monster to act aggressively and even murder others.

The monster did not begin its life as a destructive creature, but the immediate isolation from society triggers him to eventually act out as such. Shelley uses isolation as a motif in the novel to emphasize the creature’s longing and wanting to be accepted into society, yet this isolation is what instigates his anxieties to break away from and destroy the institution that created him. His rage and search for revenge causes him to kill three people throughout the novel: William Frankenstein, Henry Cleveral, and Elizabeth Lavenza. These iconic deaths are just some of the many examples of the monster’s attempt to make society suffer in the same way that he has. The monster shows his longing for others’ companionship in Chapter 11 when he says,

'But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil. I have no friend, when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate in my joy; one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection (Shelley, 108).' In this moment, he recognizes his isolation from society and expresses his desire for a friend, or someone to share his feelings and life with. The monster’s longing for acceptance relates to present-day society, in that people who are less experienced in creating ties with others show questionable behavior; this is shown in the article by Williams, who states, “Excluded people actually become more sensitive to potential signs of connection, and they tailor their behavior accordingly,” The monster is sensitive to the backlash from society and goes on a rampage.

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Without guidance from his “father”, or creator, the monster attempts to make a place for himself in society but instead, he finds himself abandoned. The monster came into the world not knowing anything and needing someone to guide him but ends up having to learn everything the hard way. He tries to find his way on his own, but this is difficult because he has no family or group that he truly belongs to: “Humans need social groups for survival. We evolved to live in cooperative societies, and for most of human history we depended on those groups for our lives” (Weir). Humans thrive when in groups, they rely on each other and give each other validation. Victor rejects his monster by leaving and not making an effort to find him after he created him. The monster only desires acceptance from any form of society, and when he stumbles upon villagers, he spies on them and later jumps at the chance of an encounter with them. With the help of the villagers, he sees and soon craves love and affection, a view he proves by saying, “The more I saw of them, the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness; my heart yearned to be loved and known by these amiable creatures (Shelley, 133).” He uses his isolation to educate himself with books and finally finds the courage to meet a thriving family. But when the son, Felix, hits him with a board, the creature flees and loses all hope. He is then exposed to a more critical society, where he's accused of drowning a young girl when he is really trying to save her, and he quickly sees that he is unwelcome. Then, when Dr. Frankenstein denies the creature a mate, he is then motivated to isolate his creator by destroying his loved ones, such as Elizabeth, so that he can see Victor suffer. The monster’s coping mechanism is revenge on Victor and society. Like the monster, many people who feel isolated use aggression and revenge to get back at the ones who hurt them, or take that aggression out on anyone in their pathway.

This rejection from his creator, or the person whom he considers to be someone who could have guided him in the world, affects the creature. He wonders why he exists and why he is forever separated from companionship and understanding. These same feelings are also present in people who are rejected by society because of how they identify their race, culture, or perspective and beliefs. In the article “The Pain of Social Rejection” by Kirsten Weir, scientists study the effects of social rejection on individuals and how aggression plays into it, saying, “... others may respond to rejection with anger and lashing out. If someone’s primary concern is to reassert a sense of control, he or she may become aggressive as a way to force others to pay attention.” Like the monster who craves control, his feelings progress from sadness and isolation to rage and thirst for revenge and attention. The creature's words reveal his confusion and sadness, he begins to question his existence because physical appearance is his main barrier. This does not allow him to build normal relationships in the society. People do not make any attempts to find out about who he really is, after seeing his appearance. In realizing this, he proclaims, “Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge.”(Shelley 98). Feelings of alienation and loneliness only get worse with time. The monster accepts his rejection but still chooses to pity Victor for it by telling him, “I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?”

To conclude, Victor’s creation represents society’s rejection of people who differ from everyone else, which later leads to isolation, abandonment, and distrust of others. The monster can relate to these people because of the pain and anger that comes from rejection, leading to his own destructive behavior. As Frankenstein exemplifies throughout the novel, everyone, not just the monster, wants to be loved and accepted for who they truly are.

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Revenge in ‘Frankenstein’ Essay. (2023, December 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
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