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Sympathy for Frankenstein’s Monster

Mary Shelley might have written ‘Frankenstein’ because she was challenged by her husband and Lord Byron to see who could write the best horror story while they were staying at Villa Diolati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Her father was interested in Galvanism- running electric currents through the body to restore it to life. In the book, Victor Frankenstein uses similar methods to create the monster. She was also influenced by the works of Samuel Taylor and Aaron Burr.

Firstly, Shelley tries to create sympathy for the monster by describing his appearance in a unique yet horrific way: he’s ‘gigantic’; ‘about eight feet’; ‘deformed’; ‘black lips’ and lastly, ‘yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath’. When you link these descriptions together, Shelley creates a vivid, unnatural image of the monster in the mind’s eye. This creates sympathy for the monster by making him abhorrent to typical humans. Usually when someone is different in the society, they are pitied, oppressed or threatened by the majority.

Secondly, Shelley tries to create sympathy for the monster the comments Victor makes behind his back. He says before making him that he hoped his creation would ‘bless’ him as his ‘creator’. He also believed the monster to have ‘happy’ and ‘excellent’ nature and be ‘beautiful’. His words betrayed him when the monster was created. Instead of his work being beautiful, he says he’s a ‘filthy creation’, he’s ‘ugly’, ‘horrid’ and a ‘demonical corpse’. This makes us sympathise for the monster because his father, his creator detests him. If the man that should be his father does not like him, it does not give him much hope with other people. The choice of words here are very emotive, it makes the reader feel sympathy and sorrow for the monster.

Frankenstein’s brother, William, also detests the monster; he states he’s a ‘monster! An ugly wretch!’ and ‘an ogre’. This also makes us feel poignancy for the monster because even though he has done no harm to William at that point, he is able to be prejudice just by looking at his appearance.

Thirdly, Shelley tries to create sympathy for the monster through comments said to his face, Frankenstein says he’s a ‘vile insect’, and also adds ‘cursed be the day…in which you first saw light!’ The language Shelly uses here is very powerful and emotive. He further goes on to say, ‘Shall I create another like yourself, whose joints wickedness might desolate the world?’ This is even harsher as it is coming from his creator. It makes the reader want to comfort the monster and help him. He is lonely. All it wants is someone to like him, someone who would treat him like he’s a person, not a thing or an insect.

Fourthly, Shelley tries to create sympathy for the monster through what people do to him. Victor ‘sprang on him’ and he ‘flung his hands from his eyes with violence’. This makes the reader feel sorry for the monster by making the monster sound helpless. He doesn’t deserve this treatment. Victor further goes on to shred his girlfriend to pieces- just because the monster happened to be smiling at her. We feel empathy for the monster because it makes us realise that he has feelings like everyone else. A man in the woods just took one glance and he ‘tore the girl from his arms…aimed a gun at his body, and fired’. This makes us realise how appalling people behave towards him. The man doesn’t even give a chance to explain his reason for holding the girl- his appearance is good enough. These actions make us feel pity for him because we know he is innocent and all he wants is a friend.

The fifth way Shelley tries to make us feel sorry for the monster is through peoples’ reaction to him. Victor couldn’t and wouldn’t look at him; he was ‘unable to endure the aspect of being he had created’. He thinks of his creation as a putrid savage without thinking hoe helpless and unwanted the monster feels by his father’s reactions. We wouldn’t like it if ‘children shrieked’ and ‘women fainted’ just from looking at us, would we?

The sixth way Shelley tries to create sympathy for the monster is though his actions when he comes to life. The monster ‘muttered some inarticulate sounds’ to Frankenstein, he then smiled at Frankenstein, ‘a grin wrinkled his cheeks’. When the monster tries to touch Victor, he reacted badly. If someone rejected us just for being ourselves, we would feel really sad. When the monster turned away, upset, from a window he could see a girl lovingly being lifted by her father. We feel sorry for the monster because we see how loving the man was to his child while Frankenstein loathes the monster. Her choice of language makes him sound vulnerable and emotional. He even wept when the family were upset, showing he has feelings for others, not just for himself.

Finally Shelley tries to create sympathy for the monster through his speech. He says ‘all men hate the wretched!’ These words create sympathy for the monster because he knows he’s been rejected by society for the way he looks. It isn’t his fault the way he looks. People should have given him a chance and judged him on his personality rather than his face.

In conclusion, Mary Shelley makes us sympathise for the monster through his appearance, his actions, his speech and how others react to him. She gets across this by her choice of words. She uses emotive language brilliantly.

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