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Frankenstein, Edited by Stuart Curran
STUDY AIDS : CHARACTERS

The Creature


Frankenstein describes the Creature's creation:

I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man. The materials at present within my command hardly appeared adequate to so arduous an undertaking; but I doubted not that I should ultimately succeed. . . . As the minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic stature; that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionably large. (I:3:7)

Upon bringing his creation to life, however, he is terrified by its hideous appearance:

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion, and straight black lips. (I:4:2)

Frankenstein rushes from the room and sees no more of his Creature until after William's death, when he encounters the Creature outside Geneva: "A flash of lightning illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy dæmon, to whom I had given life" (I:6:22). Later the Creature meets Frankenstein on the Mer de Glace, and there narrates fully a third of the novel to his creator, describing his first sensations (II:3:1), his first encounter with a terrified observer (II:3:9), and his discovery of a shelter beside the cottage of the De Laceys (II:3:10).

After unintentionally driving the De Laceys from him, he vows vengeance on humanity, and especially on his creator: "I, like the arch fiend, bore a hell within me; and, finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin. . . . I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery" (II:8:3). He goes to seek Frankenstein, and on the way encounters and murders William (1818:II:31).

At the end of his long narrative, the Creature demands that Frankestein create for him a mate (II:8:36), a task Frankenstein at first refuses. But the Creature's eloquence prevails:

If I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion; the love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes, and I shall become a thing, of whose existence every one will be ignorant. My vices are the children of a forced solitude that I abhor; and my virtues will necessarily arise when I live in communion with an equal. I shall feel the affections of a sensitive being, and become linked to the chain of existence and events, from which I am now excluded. (II:9:14)

Frankenstein agrees to create a female, and travels with Clerval to Great Britain, where he begins his work.

But Frankenstein, fearing the propagation of "a race of devils" (III:3:2), reneges on his promise, and destroys his half-finished creation (III:3:4). The furious Creature declares,

Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey! (III:3:11)

Vowing, "I shall be with you on your wedding-night" (III:3:15), the Creature rushes away. When Frankenstein is framed for the murder of Clerval, he realizes it is the Creature's doing (III:4:9). Misunderstanding the import of the Creature's resolution to be with him on his wedding night, he leaves his bride Elizabeth defenseless to the Creature's murderous assault (III:6:7). Victor pursues the Creature, who leads him northward across Europe into the Arctic, leaving inscriptions to taunt his creator (III:7:10).

Finally Frankenstein is picked up by Walton, who is uncertain about his story until, after Frankenstein's death from exhaustion, the Creature appears aboard ship and laments over his body (III:WC:35). He justifies his actions to Walton—"I pitied Frankenstein; my pity amounted to horror: I abhorred myself. . . . I knew that I was preparing for myself a deadly torture; but I was the slave, not the master of an impulse, which I detested, yet could not disobey"—and declares his intention to "seek the most northern extremity of the globe," there to immolate himself and find rest in death.

Original publication date

1818
1831

Published @ RC

May 2009