In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley addresses how the creature struggles to find identity, causing alienation. In this gothic novel, Shelley addresses the importance of family in humanity. The author criticizes the traditional forms of establishing identity and the inheritance of power and status in society because of your family. Victor draws a lot on the name Frankenstein to confirm his identity. Victor creates a creature and does not give it a name because he does not want it to develop human-like features. However, the relationship between Victor and the creature is human-like because the creature feels lonely and an outsider in society. The creature has to tolerate life without love, care, and identity. The lack of identity and connection to family leads to monstrous acts because of neglect and alienation.
When Victor moves away from his family, he starts working in isolation to perform his experiments but gets alienated because he neglects them. While struggling with alienation, he ignores advice and focuses on his inherent desire to perform monstrous acts, which he regrets later. Victor’s thinking is filled with the passion and ambition to create a creature who would see him as God. Victor believes the creature owes him something but neglects his responsibility to the creature, who lacks identity. Victor does not name the creature because he does not want it to become human-like. The human world rejects him without a name for identification (Liu). The idea of giving life overwhelms him, and he abandons the creature. When Victor is horrified by his creation, he reinforces the prejudice that the monster is dangerous because of its ugly appearance.
Initially, when the monster is created, he has a warm and open heart and looks for identity in his creator, who fears it. When the villagers attack the creature because of their prejudices against him, he feels alienated and desires revenge. “At first, I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror, and when I became fully convinced that I was, in reality, the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity.” (Shelley). The creature says that he feels excluded from society and that the misery made him a fiend.
The part of the lecture that I found interesting was when Shelley paralleled the Bible’s creation story with the book. The monster demands that Victor create another monster that is as miserable and alone as he is for companionship. Like Adam, the creature believes there should be a companion figure for him. The creature called his creator cursed because he created a hideous monster that he found disgusting. He exclaims that God created people in his own image and Satan had the companionship of other devils, but he was abhorred and solitary. Robert Walton plays a vital role in the story because Victor tells him his story. Walton acts as the conduit through which the author tells her story. Walton also plays a parallel role in Victor’s story. Victor and Walton are explorers of knowledge but have different identities. Victor tells Walton to seek happiness in tranquility and avoid being overambitious. The author uses the epistolary form in the novel to create a framed narrative. This form was also an exciting part I witnessed from the lecture: the quotation of other writers and poets of the time.
In conclusion, self-identity and inclusion in society make a human be loved and cared for and will avoid performing monstrous acts. When Victor creates the creature, he is innocent but is corrupted by alienation. The creature believes that he is virtuous at heart and only becomes wicked because of the treatment he receives. When the creature saw himself in the mirror for the first time, he became horrified and lost his sense of self-identity. The inability to see inner goodness and self-worth results in total isolation and an increased desire for revenge. Victor’s alienation makes him neglect advice, which he regrets later, killing Elizabeth and himself.
LIU, Xiao-wen. The Identity-Chasing Journey of the Monster in Frankenstein. Journal of Literature and Art Studies. 2021, Vol. 11, No. 3, 153-157
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1818