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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

Violence and Suffering in Frankenstein Essay Example


Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, is one of the most excellent works of literature. The story can be classified as both science fiction and horror. It is a well-known book, and there have been numerous retellings and film productions based on it. As you read this novel, you likely relate to the narration or one of the characters in one way or another. It also makes a great study project. Shelley brings up a lot of controversial themes and ideas which offer different interpretations of the story. She depicts these themes through the characters, their roles, and actions. Using such topics, Shelley brings contentious issues to light and gives her thoughts about them. She has also related most themes of the novel to the political world. The novel is about how Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist, uses his knowledge of science to create a living being from the organs of dead people. The gruesome creation is at first gentle, but due to people’s fear of its appearance, the monster is forced to alienate itself from the society. It develops anger towards humanity’s lack of compassion, and this drives it to seek revenge on Victor.

Role of Violence

The purpose of violence and suffering as portrayed in the novel is only outward manifestations of how one can be propelled towards savagery and violence when desolate. In addition to the physical deformation of Frankenstein’s creature, the novel expresses the concept of how “unattractive and brutal” people can be when they feel terrible about themselves and the environment around them. The monster in Shelley’s novel had no positive experiences than those of isolation and misery, and that drove it into being vengeful and murderous.

Revenge Inspires Violence

The first incidence of violence in the novel is when the monster killed Victor’s younger brother, William. The beast admitted to Frankenstein that he murdered the boy out of revenge. What inspired the vengeance is how devastated it felt from being isolated from the community. The monster additionally admitted how even the families who sheltered him and gave him hope for compassion cast him away because of his ugly physique. The beast requested Victor to make him a female companion who would make him stop feeling less miserable and lonely, and also help him recover his sense of humanity. Initially, Victor agrees to this request, but later, he regrets his promise to the monster and tears the female creation apart before he completed it. The creature retaliates by killing Victor’s wife.

Emotional Suffering

Humanity’s lack of compassion and Victor’s failure to fulfill his promise to the monster play a role in shaping the beast into a savage. This shows that emotional pain, as compared to the physical pain, is more likely to drive someone to do horrible acts. The creature, being who he is, is impermeable to physical pain. What propelled him to vengeance and murder was the emotional suffering caused by loneliness. By meeting Victor Frankenstein, the monster illustrates that the sense of misery and alienation can result in brutality. This occurrence shows us that when we reach the threshold of our suffering, we can be pushed to perform outrageous acts like murder. The monster’s quandary likewise reveals that resembling humans does not inherently suggest that one will be human, with human attributes. Frankenstein endeavored to make life, but contrary to what he expected, he created a monster of himself and his creation. An element can be formed into being by the combination of parts; however, this does not imply that it will end up becoming human. Being a human requires soul and acceptance, which the beast in Shelley’s novel did not possess. Therefore, he was forced into being a monster in his form and actions. The beast expressed his anguish to Frankenstein when he called him a cursed creator. He also articulated his regret in not killing himself. He also confesses to feeling vengeful and being full of rage.

Selfish Ambitions and Violence

In the novel, Shelley also uncovers the imperfections of human nature as portrayed in the personality of Victor. It disclosed man’s propensity to play God. Frankenstein becomes obsessed with his handiwork to the extent that he avoids any possible form of human contact to concentrate on nothing but crafting his masterpiece. Once he had finished his creation, it then dawned on him for the first time that his production was more than the beauty he was striving to forge. He noticed that his creation also showcased the grotesque nature of death with the haunting figure of lifelessness hovering around his creation’s lips, skin and eyes. In that instance, it hit Frankenstein that the reality of what he had created was not life; instead, it was just a cold and twisted frame of death. He abandons his creation, which results in a sequence of catastrophes.
Victor’s choice to create the monster and then not take care of him shows self-centeredness and refusal to accept that his actions have consequences. He made the beast to bring glory to himself, and in the process does not regard the souls of the corpses he desecrates. He also does not think of what his creation will do to people if he unleashes it to the world. This lack of responsibility and abandonment causes the creature to retaliate with violence. Shelley uses this to show us the need of taking ethical and moral responsibility for our actions and creations. She demonstrates that lack of responsibility can result in death and destruction.In the novel, Shelley also shows the shortcomings of an individual’s judgment that often results in violence and suffering. She demonstrated this when Victor agreed to create a female partner for the monster. Victor disregarded the fact that he made a ferocious being in his first creation. He believed that creating a partner for the monster would maybe stop him from killing. As he was making the female beast, his decision failed him, when presumed that the freak was deceiving him. This suspicion caused him to commit his first work of violence against the monster by destroying the female beast and throwing her remains into the ocean. Once more, this exhibit human’s capability of violence in the way of ill will and doubt. Victor’s actions prompted the monster into a killing spree. He murdered Henry, who took care of Victor when he fell sick and Elizabeth, Victor’s wife. Victor, like the monster, was filled with a vengeance that he became preoccupied with hunting down the beast to avenge his wife’s death. By resorting to revenge, Frankenstein demonstrates how vendetta powers violence. Man cannot assume the role of God in creating life even if his intentions are well-meaning. The fact that Victor was a creation suggested that he could not play the role of a creator and bring life. What Frankenstein managed to give the beast was not life, but the experience of that comes from being created. As a creation, he could not make a being like himself because perfection is unattainable. The experiences that Frankenstein gave the monster could not be considered as human because they were without human association and loaded with misery, loneliness, and desolation. The only thing this creation would grow to be was a monster, a defective piece of an imperfect creator. The creature, being a collection of body organs from corpses, is a troubled result of man’s relentless character. His heart was a compilation of the feelings that he had to put up with throughout his life. He has no soul, and that makes him unable to understand the expansiveness of human experiences such as which makes one human. He only had a glimpse of what compassion looked like when the DeLacey family accommodated him. They treated him with utmost respect and love. They made small gestures of affection with gentleness for him, and he, in turn, rewarded them with his kind smiles. However, vague this idea of kindness was, it instantly doused when the family, who offered him affection, cast him out. You can only envision what the creature felt when this positive experience was snatched away from his grasp, leaving him in torment.


Victor’s monster experienced a lot of torment and misery which fueled his quest for revenge. Vengeance, when free from the influence of other positive human emotions, can only express itself through violence. Shelley demonstrated how retaliation usually results in violence directly without the use of allegory. She showed that monster had a grin on his face that made him look like he was jeering when he pointed towards the lifeless body of Victor’s wife. Frankenstein yielded to retribution and what took place next was a revenge feeding savagery that led to further misery for the two characters. Mary Shelley demonstrates how selfishness, misery, pain, and isolation can cause one to resort to violence and cause suffering. She offers essential life lessons that should be applied to our day to day life. These include taking personal responsibility for our actions and being compassionate to other people. She also shows that man cannot understand the meaning of life entirely, neither can he create life.