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Character Study of Viktor Frankenstein Essay


"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction" (Pablo Picasso). The book Frankenstein presents numerous topics of which one could discuss. The topic that I have chosen to discuss pertains to the character study of Victor Frankenstein. Throughout the book, Victor's personality, thought process, and emotions greatly differ when he is presented certain circumstances that always tend to lead to a reoccurring outcome. His journey leads him on a roller coaster ride with the highest of highs leading to the lowest of lows. He experiences a vast range of emotions from ambition, to fear, guilt, anger, love and finally regret. This character study of Victor Frankenstein will point out his actions towards key moments and the outcome of these actions and how these outcomes shape his emotional perspective. To truly understand, though, how Victor becomes so lost as a person, you must start at his beginning.

The story of Victor Frankenstein begins with the end. We meet Robert Walton, who is a captain of a ship somewhere in the Arctic Circle. He is there trying to make a new scientific discovery to help change the world. In his travels he comes across a man, nearly dead, who stands alone in the treacherous weather. This man we come to learn is Victor Frankenstein. The captain, curious of the stranger's travels, begins to ask Victor of his past. Victor begins to tell the tale of his life thus far. He describes his childhood growing up in Geneva. His father, Alphonse, was a wealthy and respected man in Geneva, with much power. He was a compassionate man, which is evident through Victor's tale of his father marrying his ailing friend's daughter, so that she will not live out her days alone. He continues explaining of how his father forwent his work and studies to become a caring father. You begin to see these ambitions and love instilled within Victor, who, just as his father was successful in his endeavors, and was a good and attentive parent. Victor tells the captain of his other siblings: his brother, William, and his sister Elizabeth, who was adopted into the family from Alphonse's dying sister. Victor explains the first emotions of love and compassion that he experiences with Elizabeth. He expresses how he was not only physically attracted to her, but also intellectually attracted to her by stating, "Although she was lively and animated, her feelings were strong and deep, and her disposition uncommonly affectionate" (Shelley 19). He describes to the reader an overall beautiful childhood surrounded with love and friendship from his family and dear friend Clerval. After reflecting on his childhood, he openly admits to the captain that

"No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed. When I mingled with other families I distinctly discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted the development of filial love" (Shelley 20)

He continues with his story to the captain, but shows signs of regret while he speaks, almost as if he misses the life that he held so dear to him as a child. Victor explains to the captain that he was a scientist, as he viewed that world as a secret which he wished to discover.

The reader is now told that Victor is in his teenage years, and begins to read studies of scientists relevant to his time period and becomes fascinated by the power that knowledge and science can yield when brought together. He expresses sheer enjoyment in finding the relative facts to the actual world. He continues on now in the time frame of his young adult life, 17-19. He now explains his first loss experienced in his lifetime with his mother catching Scarlet Fever from aiding Elizabeth. The emotion of grief overcomes his family, especially his father, and strains his departure to the University of Ingolstadt. He eventually departs for his studies, leaving Geneva and his family. He expresses excitement in the fact that he will now be surrounded by men of science as well as contribute to the human race upon completion of his studies. He arrives and originally speaks to the professor of Modern Science, Professor Krempe, who informs him that his childhood studies were deemed useless in the modern world. Deterred that he will have to begin from scratch, he sits in on a lecture of a colleague of Professor Krempe. Professor Waldman is introduced as an exact opposite of Professor Krempe, and rather supports Victor's previous studies stating that the studies of which he learned were considered to be the foundation for all knowledge known in present day. Rejoicing after his discussion, Victor remarks "This ended a day memorable to me ; it decided my future destiny" (Shelley 28). He states that the next two years he went without going to Geneva, but rather he was engaged with his heart and soul in the pursuit of discoveries. Victor becomes particularly engaged with the anatomy of the human body. He explains that while in his study he begins to learn of giving life, but is unable to transfer it to a non-living being. This first discovery of animation, though, was all that is needed to give the already ambitious Victor sheer perseverance. This perseverance creates a blindness within Victor. The reader is now aware that Victor wishes to animate a frame of a human body, with extraordinary limbs scaling eight feet in height. Rather then ponder the ethical implications would ensue once the creature was brought to life, he worried about being the first to bring animation to lifeless limbs. He proclaims to the captain "No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world" (Shelley 32). Thus expressing the thought of helping the world, rather than harming the world, which foreshadows a pattern of ignorance towards the outcome of his actions.

The time is now unknown to the reader, you are told that Victor has spent numerous hours, days, and months on his ambitions of giving the dead life. The reader is told how he now no longer responds to letters that his family continues to send him. As well, he shows a lack of being aware of time, as he states his inability to notice the changing of the seasons due to his strenuous work, which begins to affect his physical health. Victor, the man once surrounded by love and familiar faces, now finds himself more at peace with seclusion and his work. Showing his overall commitment to his work rather than those committed to him. On a gloomy November, his effort is finally rewarded. Upon creation of his creature, Victor flees in fear and disbelief of what he has just accomplished. He wanders aimlessly throughout the streets until Clerval intercepts him, in a feverish haze. This is the first moment of regret that you learn of Victor experiencing, but he quickly comforts himself with ignorance by assuming that his creature's lifespan will not be long. Four months pass until Clerval is able to restore Victor back to health. He urges Victor to contact his family, whom he has neglected for the past three years. He receives a letter for Elizabeth, and though he has lost contact with her, he still surrenders to her love. Unable to return, due to weather, Victor stays in Ingolstadt for another year, until receiving an urgent letter from his father telling him to return home, for his youngest brother William had been murdered. Upon arriving home Victor is unable to gain access into the city, so he must remain outside the city walls until dawn. Here is when Victor begins to express, for the first time, the torment that surrounds him after he see an outline of his creature. He lies restless, in heavy contemplation as he states, " No one can conceive the anguish I suffered during the remainder of the night, which I spent, cold and wet, in the open air. But I did not feel the inconvenience of the weather, my imagination was busy in scenes of evil and despair"(Shelley 49). The next morning Victor reaches Geneva but finds that his imagination has become a reality. The housekeeper and family friend Justine, had been accused of Williams murder. Though the lingering feeling of the creature murdering William follows Victor, he does not confess, as he fears of questions and ridicule of his claim. Thus Justine is tried and convicted, being sentenced to a hanging. Leaving Victor as he correlates the death of two innocent people by the hands of his creature, but to such a degree where he feels he should be the one being comforted for the despair and pain he has caused. Overwhelmed by his self-inflicted torture, he leaves Geneva to seek the place were he saw the monster last.

He scales Mount Montanvert and is finally confronted by his creature. The creature tells his tale of the journey and his experience of life thus far. He curses Victor for making him. He confesses in the murder of young William, and scoffs at Victor allowing Justine to die by his own doing. The creature wishes to discontinue his terror, if Victor would only make him a mate, whom he would only love. If he refuses, he swears to destroy him. After considering the damage the creature has already committed, he agrees to the terms and will create a spouse for the creature. They depart and Victor begins to contemplate his decision as his family views the internal conflict within him. Victor finally leaves Geneva to begin work for the creature, to ensure peace. As Victor works he is no longer intrigued by science but rather in fear and burden of the scientific process. He fears that this female spouse will allow procreation between the two creatures, and he selfishly no longer wants to put forth numerous hours of something he cannot condone. This time the exact opposite is depicted in the creation of the first monster. This time, instead of putting self-interest first, Victor rather places mankind in place of his own interest by rejecting the monsters proposition and destroying the female creature. The creature, who followed Victor throughout his travels, becomes enraged with Victor placing the ominous threat on Victor, stating " I shall be with you on your wedding night" (Shelley 116). Thus instead of being rewarded for making a morally sound judgement, Victor finds himself tortured by his creatures lasting words, leaving him to contemplate who the creatures next victim will be.

The story continues as Victor expresses the loss of Clerval by the creature's hands. He is originally accused of the crime, but is later acquitted do to evidence presented. Clerval, though, marks the third person of relevance in Victor's life that passes at the hands of his creation. Victor and his father then take a retreat, during which Elizabeth sends a letter to Victor asking if he has loved another. He declines, stating, he has and only loves her. Upon his arrival home Victor and Elizabeth are wedded. The wedding night arrives and Victor, in fear of his own life, does not even take joy in the moment of being married. Rather he roams the hallway with a revolver, ignorantly taking into consideration the fact that the creature has never harmed him but others surrounding him. He insists that Elizabeth leave his side and retreat into the room and moments later Elizabeth dies by the creatures hands. Moments of remorse pass over Victor, but only for an instinct as he states "While I still hung over her in agony of despair, I happened to look up. I saw at the open window a figure of the most hideous and abhorred. A grin was on the face of the monster, a with his fiendish finger he pointed towards the corpse of my wife" (Shelley 136). In this instance you see Victor's love and sadness instantly replaced with his anger. He becomes engulfed with rage, now knowing the ill fate of his wife was due to his own creation. The sadness of Elizabeth's death sends Victor's father into bad health and eventually death. Thus the creature has successfully destroyed any love or compassion that Victor can surround himself. He visits the memorial of his fallen family members and suppresses the thought of taking his own life. The creature then presents himself with great happiness expressing to Victor. " I am satisfied: miserable wretch! you have determined to live, and I am satisfied!" (Shelley 141). Thus the creator is now in pursuit of the creature rather the creature shadowing the creator. They continue this pursuit for years, the creature enticing Victor to not give up for he shall be rewarded with the final hour of which he can accomplish his revenge, and the creature finding himself great pleasure in Victor's struggles, so that he may experience the hardship the monster has felt. Their travels reach the Arctic Circle, which brings us to present day with Victor in the captain's cabin. The final emotion Victor expresses to Captain Walton is regret and anger. He regrets the lives that were lost due to his blindness and thirst of knowledge, but asks the captain to vow vengeance on the creature for the abomination does not belong on this earth. Victor passes slightly after his last words.

In conclusion, these events throughout the life time of Victor Frankenstein have greatly shaped him and changed him during his life. He began as an ambitious child surrounded by warmth and love which were provided from family members and friends. As he continues to educate himself, he loses the secret of the world surrounding him and rather chooses to solve it. This pursuit of answers and knowledge pushes Victor into a loss of identity. He forgets what matters to him the most, his dear Elizabeth, his friendship with Clerval, and his respect for his father, all of which he sacrificed in order to remain eternal in science through out the world with his creation. The emotions that he experiences; regret, sadness, and anger are all arguably self-inflicted due to his lack of intuition. His own creation, which he assumed to bring him fame and glory, rather brought him sadness and remorse. He starts his life with much love and little knowledge, but as he grows he exchanges the two, losing site of what is truly important for self-happiness. Thus, in his last moments of life, he finds himself just as alone as the creature he has created, who simply wished to experience what Victor now realizes he has lost. These are how the actions and outcomes of Victor's life have placed him in a dark and cold world, when his initial intentions were to only bring life and light upon it.

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