Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been hailed as one of the best horror stories ever. The title, Frankenstein, is the last name of the creator of the infamous Frankenstein’s monster, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. His is a story of the great pain suffered by Frankenstein and his monster and people’s misunderstanding of the poor creature. All his efforts to find a companion are useless, as society shuns him for his horrid figure.
Although the story is told by Dr. Frankenstein through Robert Walton, an arctic explorer, the antagonist seems to be his monster. Despite his gruesome appearance, this being composed of various cadaver parts starts out as a compassionate creature longing for companionship and curious of how he came to be. He desperately tries to befriend members of society, but utterly fails at each attempt. His appearance earns him no sympathy, but loathing from his creator and townspeople alike. For example, after secretly living with a poor family for more than a year, he decides to approach the father, a blind old man. The creature reasons that since the old man cannot see him, he will not be repulsed by the monster’s form, thus providing companionship for the creature. As the two talk, the old man responds to the plight of the stranger. However, the monster’s wish for friendship does not come true for the old man’s children return home to find their blind father with a gigantic monster. The old man’s son attacks the monster, but instead of killing the boy, he runs away, overcome by despair and anguish. The creature decides to request Frankenstein make a female version of himself. Frankenstein refuses at first, saying that creating another might destroy mankind, but the monster says to him:
You are in the wrong, and instead of threatening, I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph… Shall I respect man when he condemns me? …What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand another creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself… it shall content me. It is true, we shall be monsters cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another. Our lives will not be happy, but they will be harmless… Oh! My creator, make me happy… Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some existing thing; do not deny me my request! (182-184)
This plea moves Frankenstein and he agrees to his request. Nevertheless, Frankenstein later reconsiders his decision and sends the monster on a killing spree.
Because of this, Frankenstein himself is the antagonist of his own story. He and society contribute to the sorrow of the monster through their negative responses. Frankenstein feels like he is doing the right thing by rejecting the monster, but does not realize that the scorn directed toward the creature by himself and society are the cause of his murderous actions. When asked to create a mate for the creature, Frankenstein responds, “Shall I… set loose… a [demon] whose delight is in death…? I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage” (212).
The story actually begins with Robert Walton, whose ship finds a man near death in the arctic regions. He is taken aboard and nursed back to health. Upon recovery, he tells his story to Walton.
His name is Victor Frankenstein and he grew up fascinated with alchemy and various other sciences. He tried to discover the procedure to overcome aging and death, and finally created life from various parts of cadavers put together to form a gigantic humanoid creature. Once given life, Frankenstein was horrified by the monstrosity of his own creation and flees. He went into a coma for about two years, not knowing what became of his creation. One day, he received a letter saying his little brother had been murdered. The girl accused was a friend of the family and Victor was sure that his monster was the murderer, not the girl. However, there was nothing Frankenstein could do so the girl was executed for the murder of the boy.
Mourning two deaths, Frankenstein ventured alone into the mountains and was