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Frankenstein: A Brilliant New Theory

A recent article by The Sun came out with a shocking announcement about Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. They made the revolutionary assertion that “SNOWFLAKE students claim Frankenstein’s monster was a misunderstood victim with feelings”. They also claimed that this thematic idea is a new trend that has appeared with the advent of humanism and liberalism (of course, the article isn’t explicit in saying this, but using “snowflakes” in the title is indicative of liberals, right?).

Apparently, The Sun is now entering the field of literary criticism. Get ready to welcome the magazine into the ranks of Dryden, Barthes, Wilde, and Pope because they absolutely know what they are talking about when it comes to literature.

As an English major and fan of gothic literature, let me just say I had no idea a new theme is emerging about the misunderstood nature of the Monster. This makes me rethink my entire conceptualization of Shelley’s novel. For the longest time I had been taught that Frankenstein was about…about…about…well, the claim that Frankenstein could be about anything else is frankly so ridiculous that I can’t even come up with a witty response.

Yes, yes, it can be argued that it’s about knowledge or the relationship between a master and his slave. We can even throw a feminist reading in there and make the argument that the novel is about the possession of the woman, but without a doubt, the universal truth to the novel is that the Monster was a misunderstood (and abused) victim.

The Monster is created out of Frankenstein’s desire to push science to the limits (remember: Frankenstein is the name of the scientist, not the monster). When the Monster is brought to life, Frankenstein runs from fear at his invention, leaving his newborn creation to learn how to survive on his own. The Monster wanders for ages in the wild, observing how humans interact and learning the art of speech and writing by himself. On many occasions, due to his hideous appearance, he is scorned, yelled at, and beaten—just for being different. When he finally confronts his creator, he eloquently describes his experiences and expresses the loneliness of being the only one of his kind, a loneliness that motivates the Monster to ask Frankenstein to make him a mate. Yet the scientist is incapable of doing that for his creature, causing the Monster to take revenge and kill Frankenstein’s wife (who is also his adopted sister).

So yes, the Monster kills people, not due to his own violation, but because he was neglected at his conception and seen as a demon by society. Despite this, the novel never blames the Monster for his atrocities. It sympathizes with him and,on many occasions, Frankenstein blames himself for the killings because he knows he is responsible for the being.

Just a few quotes alone prove this point (all quotes come from the Dover Thrift Edition):

  • “All men hate the wretched; how, then must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You propose to kill me” (68).
  • “Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend” (69).
  • “These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction” (69).

These quotes represent only a single scene from the novel but prove that the Monster is a victim subject to abuse and discrimination. I understand that if you’re not a liberal snowflake, fighting against racial discrimination is not really your “thing”, but the claim cannot be made that modern politics have created this new theory. In fact, questioning the nature and acceptance of the Monster has been the main interpretation since the novel was published in 1818—so, not a new theory and not related to liberals (as if a person’s political stance changes a codified interpretation of a classic work). Honestly, I don’t know what the article was trying to accomplish besides trying to outrage literary nerds.

Frankenstein is a work that challenges the idea of humanity and what it means to be human. Do we shun away someone simply because they are different than we are? Do we blame someone for the negligence of another human? If we do take such a path, maybe the only outcome is death in the land of mist and snow.

But what do I know? Maybe the Sun is right after all.


Up next…Liberals are using A Thousand Splendid Suns as an argument for why we need to pull out of Afghanistan.


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