“Bad” Parents Make for “Good” Monsters
When a father lays his eyes upon his child for the first time, you might normally expect him to experience a wide range of emotions, such as: adoration, infinite and intense love, fierce protectiveness, or the desire to be a role model for his newborn offspring. Unfortunately for author Mary Shelley, she did not have the luck of having a father as a role model present in her life and was quite neglected. Writing during the Romantic period, Shelley criticizes how people of the era were strongly encouraged to rely solely on intuition and “natural” feelings rather than controlled rationality; Shelley cautions that a sense of rationality is necessary in everyday life, especially when it comes to raising a child. In Shelley’s book, Frankenstein, she is very critical of parents who fail to pay attention to their children, and uses her characters in the novel to warn of the effects of bad parenting because she experienced this herself. Victor created a monster – he used old body parts and dead, decaying flesh to bring his creature to life, and still, the creature was not yet a monster. In a much more profound way, it was Victor’s parenting, or rather lack of parenting, that truly made this creature into a monster.
Victor Frankenstein’s creature is an example of a “child” with absent parents; the creature was abandoned at birth and was pushed out into society with no idea of how to navigate through the world he now lived in. With no one to raise the creature, he was without the knowledge or ability to adapt to the social norms of behavior -- as a result his actions, combined with his appearance, made it a certainty he would never gain acceptance in society. Victor Frankenstein’s creature is internally hurt and broken because of his feelings of abandonment by his “father” along with his inability to create companionship due to his appearance. Victor could have aided the creature in having a happy life, instead of a life filled with misery, if he were ethical and raised the creature as his own son.
Unlike his treatment of his creation, Victor Frankenstein’s own childhood was one filled with love. His parents were always present which sheltered Victor from the pain of what a bad family-life would feel like. Victor Frankenstein spoke well of his parents, and had constant support from his family, even when he avoided contact with them while he was away; he was brought up with parents who would look out for him constantly which is definitely a privilege he took for granted. For instance, when Alphonse Frankenstein writes a letter to Victor saying. “’Come, Victor; not brooding thoughts of vengeance against the assassin, but with feelings of peace and gentleness”( Shelley 65). This deomonstates Victors fathers concern for him. It shows that Alphonse is always there for him even if he disregarding his parents. On the contrary, Victors disappearance effected his relationships with his family, which came into play when Victor created the creature.
Instead of preparing himself to raise this creature as a child, he immediately recoils once the creature is living and breathing. It is as if he wanted to feel the power of birthing a creature, yet almost immediately realized that he wanted no part in nurturing, raising, or caring for his creation. Victor even critiques the way the monster cannot speak portraying that he truly is not ready to be a father. Victor judges the fact that he cannot do so, and is again frightened by the demon. To add to this, the giant creation proves to be innocent at first because his first reaction and notion towards Victor is a childlike smile as he reaches out his hand towards his father – he is happy to have Victor, but unfortunately the feelings are not reciprocated. Victor claims that the creature is trying to strangle him, and completely has the wrong idea about the creature’s desires and intentions. Victor’s evil judgments of the creature