Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Frankenstein's reasonable and responsible choice

Of the monster, Frankenstein says to Walton: 
"He is eloquent and persuasive; and once his words had even power over my heart; but trust him not. His soul is as hellish as his form, full of treachery and fiend-like malice." 
The reader is suspicious, those words may be true for Frankenstein rather than his creature. 
And yet, here I am, reconsidering what I wrote earlier of this man.
Frankenstein makes the mistake of absorbing the works of Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus, mixing modern sciences with the ancient ambitious search for the elixir of life and going too far in science without considering the consequences.
He makes the mistake of creating the creature from relics of the dead.
He makes the mistake of running away from the creature and forcing him to live and learn on his own and accepting no responsibility.
He makes the mistake of keeping it all a secret and letting Justine die.
He makes the mistake of misjudging the creature and turning him into a monster.
Frankenstein's egocentric and irresponsible. That's also what people often say, as they talk about Mary Shelley's novel. But now I've read his thoughts about whether to keep his promise and create another being:
"I was now about to form another being, of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become 10 000 times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man, and hide himself in deserts; but she had not; and she, who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form? She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserted by 1 of his own species.
Even if they were to leave Europe, and inhabit the deserts of the new world, yet 1 of the first results of those sympathies for which the demon thirsted would be children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth, who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror. Had I a right, for my own benefit, to inflict his curse upon everlasting generations?"
This is a reasonable and responsible decision, even if wrong. The earlier mistakes have been made, now how can he say if the monster is to be trusted and what the new one might turn out to be? What I mean is that articles, blog posts and essays about Frankenstein often stress that Frankenstein is irresponsible, and he is, but not always so. If before he has been driven by his egotism, he now thinks of the world. He now makes a responsible, unselfish decision. 

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