The scientific endeavour

Shelly explored the horrific consequences of using scientific endeavour to usurp the transcendent power of nature and God, in her 1818 novel Frankenstein. She delves into the moral responsibilities of the creator and draws sympathy for a monster who is forsaken to the world and isolated from human society. The monster's pitiful state evokes a strong sense of sympathy as he relates his tale of abandonment, but as the intensity of his revenge impinges on innocent people such as Clerval and Elizabeth our response becomes more ambiguous.

The monster's physical appearance and isolation attracts our sympathy. Victor, an ambitious scientist was obsessed with trying to overcome death and gain recognition for his accomplishments. He had not considered the consequences that would arise, from his experimentations. We first here Victor's side of the story, in which he portrays the monster as a brutal killing machine. The monster kills both those nearest to victor and his aspirations, "the beauty of the dream vanished and disgust filled my heart". We see that upon the completion of his project, Victor turned against his creation merely based on the physical appearance. "His yellow skin ... shrivelled complexion" filled Victor with "disgust". This quick change in opinion of his creation and the description of the monster through vivid imagery creates a sense of sympathy in the reader. We foreshadow that the monster will become rejected and alienated by the society. The pity rises further when the monster tells Victor how he had tried to help people, he tried to fit into society, but his kindness was returned by hostility. The monster is portrayed initially as a child, unable to read, write or speak properly. He had not even seen himself. When he does see himself in the river, Shelly uses words such as "despondence" and "mortification" to emphasis the suffering that the monster goes through.

On the glacier, we feel sympathetic to towards the monster, when he displays himself as an educated and emotional being. Since the appearance of the monster is second hand it makes it easier for the readers to sympathise with the monster in his circumstances. The abandonment of the monster by Victor is undermined, by the attachment of the peasants to each other. We sympathise with the monster, as the knowledge he learns from watching them makes him suffer. It makes him realise the nature of his life, he is alone and alienated, he saw himself as "a blot upon the Earth, from which all men fled".

The contrast that Shelly presents between the description of the monster (which may be biased) and the Romantic tone of the monster's narration of his story also creates this sense of sympathy.

Whilst, Shelly engages our sympathy the monster's killing of William signals the development of a vengeful, malign dimension to his identity. We see that the monster experiences a satisfaction by the power he has to destroy and cause despair to Victor, "My heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph. However we are able to identify with the monster's search for a companion. We sympathise with his grief stricken howl when Victor destroys the female monster. "The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, and, with a howl of devilish despair and revenge withdrew". We then are described the brutal and extreme killing of Elizabeth. "...her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murder in its bridal lover". The monster's grief-stricken response shows there is the capacity for love as much as hatred in his being. "I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thou lovedst". This leaves the responder with mixed feeling. On one hand we feel sorry for his rejection, but simultaneously are appalled by some of his extreme actions.

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