Frankenstein's monster

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Frankenstein’s monster is a fictional character from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. He is created by another character in the novel called Victor Frankenstein. The creature is often called by his last name “Frankenstein” in popular culture, but in the novel, he is often called by his full name “Prometheus Frankenstein”. The monster is also called "creature", "monster", "fiend", "wretch", "vile insect", "daemon", "being" and "it".

In the novel, Victor creates the human-like monster in the upstairs room of his apartment at the University of Ingolstadt. He creates it by putting together body parts from graveyards and butcher shops.[1] He uses a method that is not clearly explained involving chemistry and galvanism to make the creature come alive. Victor leaves the creature in horror the minute it is awake. It leaves his apartment in the middle of the night.

Appearance[change | change source]

Boris Karloff's movie adaptation of Frankenstein's monster

In the novel, the monster looks as though:

“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."[1]

He is 8 feet tall because Victor believed that it would be easier to make a human body if all the body parts were bigger. In popular media and culture, he is shown with green skin. In the novel, his skin is actually more of a yellow hue. The green portrayal of the creature with electricity bolts in his neck came from Boris Karloff’s movie portrayal of the monster.

Personality[change | change source]

In the beginning, Frankenstein’s monster is like a baby. He is unable to talk. He discovers the world through sensing and observing. The monster develops understanding of simple things such as temperatures of hot and cold, sounds of birds chirping, and the differences between the sun and the moon. He eats roots, nuts, and berries when he is hungry. He finds a coat and some books while out in the wilderness.

He is described as sensitive, emotional, intelligent, prone to anger and violence, and very good at speaking. He learns how to speak from a family that he observes. He teaches himself how to read the books that he found. He has a severe sense of rejection from Victor and from every human he encounters. He has bad experiences with people. That makes him feel as though he is hated and unwanted. He resents humans and even feels hateful towards them because of how he has been treated. As a response, he kills several people, including Victor's younger brother William, Victor's best friend Henry Clerval, and later Victor's wife Elizabeth Lavenza.

Many movie adaptations have him mute and like a child instead of being intelligent.

Relationship with Victor[change | change source]

The creature has a complex relationship with Victor. He was rejected by Victor in the beginning, but he still wants to have a “father-like” figure. Victor is the only real human connection that the monster has. He demands that Victor take responsibility for his happiness.

In the novel, the creature refers to himself as “Adam”. This makes Victor a sort of God-like figure.

After the monster learns how to read and speak, he goes on a journey to find Victor. He meets him in the mountains and tells him his story. After telling Victor about his difficult journey, he asks Victor to make a female monster for him so that he does not have to be alone anymore.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, David Lorne Macdonald, and Kathleen Dorothy Scherf. Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview, 1999. Print.