I recently read Frankenstein in my AP ENGLISH class, and I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery found within the novel. I have included an essay below that I wrote for my AP English class discussing Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, through the characterization and treatment of the creature, expresses the idea that society possesses a superficial and judgmental view on individuals. Often, society hates and fears what it is not comfortable with and it creates an expectation that everyone should look pleasing and act a certain way. This unrealistic expectation molds people regarding how they look and act, therefore posing the question, how does the creation and maturation of the creature reflect on society’s characteristics, regarding lack of acceptance, as a whole?
Although the creature possesses moral strength and incredible knowledge, he only is noticed as a monstrous creature, unworthy of kind treatment. The novel shows him ardently seeking knowledge, through reading works such as Paradise Lost and studying mathematics and the sciences. However, credit never becomes awarded to him for this desire for progression, and he slowly becomes involved in murderous acts, seeking revenge on humanity for his unjust and judgmental treatment. This lack of recognition for the power of mind that he possesses becomes a reflection for society’s disregard for the significance of knowledge. Because of this, the creature begins to doubt his kind and progressive nature, and turns instead to acts of violence, implying that society’s sawed views can carry a negative influence.
The creature, largely at the beginning his creation, is abhorred for his frightening appearance. From the moment that Frankenstein gives him life, Frankenstein only sees him for his exterior qualities, and abandons him to fend for himself. This causes the creature to hate his creator and hate himself, because he only sees himself as a monster. His self-worth becomes diminished, as he believes from the beginning that he possesses no importance. Frankenstein, instead of seeing the potential and great knowledge in his creation, only focuses on his deformed body, and immediately is disgusted with the creature. This lack of love, acceptance, and inability to see past exterior flaws exhibits those exact qualities regarding society’s view and focus on those different that the ideal person.
Near the end of the novel, the creature shows himself to the family he has observed and learned from. He first appears to the blind father, who accepts him and takes him in, giving him shelter. Later, the children arrive home and chase the creature from town, disgusted by his horrifying and disgusting appearance. The old man, blind to the creature’s appearance, values him for his intellect and in general as a human being. The children only see his physical form and do not take time to learn of his character, immediately hating and deciding to fear him. These varying treatments reflect two aspects of society; those individuals who possess love and acceptance for everyone despite flaws, and those individuals who place judgment and hatred for anyone different from what they are comfortable with. The way these characters in the novel treat the creature upon first meeting him possess a direct correlation to society’s judgmental and ignorant focus.
Throughout the novel as a whole, the creature’s only judged quality becomes his outward appearance, never his desire for progression or how he ardently seeks for greater knowledge. The creature’s lack of recognition for his knowledge, why his creator abandons him, and how the family treats him, causes him to eventually seek revenge and turn to violence. Hatred, judgment, and fear follow anyone who sees him, reflecting how society only values outward appearances and looks. This fact assists the reader in feeling sympathy for the creature, because of the lack of love and acceptance he is shown, exhibiting the ignorant and superficial way individuals view others.