In Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein and the other characters throughout the novel face both physical and emotional stress. As the story progresses, the characters respond to stress, fear, and other strong emotions in a variety of ways. The way the characters respond to these intense emotions tells the reader about the character of the person. Victor and the monster both respond to emotions in two different ways that end up playing a significant part in the overall novel and define their individual characters analysis, or the analysis between and the artist and the masterpiece.
Victor Frankenstein is a complex character who faces many difficult trials throughout the novel. Mary Shelley clearly portrays Frankenstein as a distraught and troubled man in the novel. Shelley's creation of the novel is a parallel to that of the creation process of Victor's monster (Wohlpart 265). Victor is considered to be the artist and his monster is merely his canvas or masterpiece. Victor, when faced with powerful emotions, runs away in fear from the situation and the emotions he feels. He is a terrified man that does not face his fears, and therefore runs away from them thereby avoiding the problem, thus resulting in more problems. An example of this is, when Victor creates the monster and becomes deathly afraid of his creation because he had invested so much of his life into the monster and the finished product terrifies him. Victor strives "to create a being of infinite benevolence" (Ackroyd 26). He runs away to the woods in fear of his creation, instead of facing his monster as he wakes up. Victor had become overcome by his curiosity of the "spirit of life"(Ackroyd 52). The monster inflicts a fear upon his creator that is noticeable to the others in Victor's life. Victor is also fearful of how his peers shape their opinions concerning his character and, after obtaining a great deal of knowledge and respect for his thoughts and ideas throughout his schooling, becomes overwhelmed with what others view of him. He had an abundance of chances to stand for his beliefs but, in the times of trials, he fell short. One of his opportunities arose at the trial for the execution of Justine. During this trial, he had the chance to admit that he, in fact, had created the viscous and destructive monster that was responsible for the murder of William; however, he instead chose to remain silent. He remained silent in order to maintain his scholastic standing, among his peers, as an educated man. He knew that if he confessed his testimony, others would think it was preposterous and his work would be discredited. He responded to the stressful situation in a fearful manner, scared of what his family and friends would think of him. Victor Frankenstein spends the majority of his life dealing with the fear and emotional stress of his creation, causing him to waste his life away. Due to his emotional roller coaster, Victor becomes a distorted human being that cannot seem to live a normal life free of fear.
The monster, according to Mary Shelley's writings, handles his emotions in a very active, singular way. The monster, when faced with difficult trials or situations, chooses to handle things on his own. Violence tends to be the monster's method of choice when handling his stress and other powerful emotions that consume his body. The monster had no personal interaction with others, and as a result he does not know how to handle feelings that he is faced with. The monster, unlike Victor, turns vicious when stressed, and handles the problem in his own way, again unlike Victor, instead of running in fear. The monster does not have the innate human behavior to run away in fearful situations because he has nothing to be afraid of. For example in the latter part of the novel, when the monster was feeling an extreme sense of loneliness, he pleads with Victor to create a partner for him, but after the rejection of this proposal, he decides to take vengeance on his creator and kill his loved ones so that he too may feel the loneliness that he experiences. The monster learns to cope with, and faces, his emotion of loneliness by inflicting the loneliness on his creator and his creator's loved ones.
Victor and the monster both face extreme and emotionally challenging situations throughout the novel. Victor becomes overwhelmed with fear and cannot function as a normal human being as his fear continues to overtake him. On the other hand, the monster, when faced with extreme loneliness, is motivated to bring utter destruction and havoc to all of the people surrounding him. Both characters, instead of dealing with their emotions in a responsible way, either choose to runaway or lash out on others causing many of the climaxes throughout the novel.
- Ackroyd, Peter. "The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein." Kirkus Reviews 77.15 (2009): 52. Web. 22 Sep 2009. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=44006099&si te=ehost-live>.
- Ackroyd, Peter. "The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein." Publishers Weekly 256.31 (2009): 26. Web. 22 Sep 2009. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=43779635&si te=ehost-live>.
- Wohlpart, James A. "A Tradition of Male Poetics: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as an Allegory of Art." Midwest Quarterly 39.3 (1998): 265. Web. 22 Sep 2009. <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=551488&site =ehost-live>.