Victor Frankenstein and his Daemon: A Study of their Dialogue
The dialogue between Victor Frankenstein and his creature is one of the most interesting discourses in contemporary literature. Creator and created face each other in a moment when fear and apprehension has created a barrier between them. Frankenstein is already well known for its unusual creator-creature relationship, but the first conversation between Frankenstein and his monster shows the reflection of each other that has often lead readers to give the creature the name of his maker.
Victor Frankenstein’s first reaction to seeing his monster was one of hate and disgust, and yet the creature’s reaction was one of acknowledgment. Frankenstein says to the creature,
And, oh! That I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. London, 1818. pgs. 113-116.
To which the creature responds,
I expected this reception… All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life?(113)
The creature isn’t awed by his creator but still sees that only Frankenstein can accomplish what he needs. He recognizes that Frankenstein is not benevolent and caring of him, but acknowledges that only Frankenstein had the power to make him a companion. The creature also recognizes that where Frankenstein had the power to create, Frankenstein also had the power to destroy.
The reply of the scientist was,
Why do you call to my remembrance… circumstances of which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin and author? Cursed be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first saw light! Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that formed you!(115-116)
This answer seems to present the mirroring between these two characters that Frankenstein himself is so ashamed to admit. He curses himself for interfering with death and trying to reanimate the dead, and yet he looks upon the consequence of the desires that have overcome him.
The dialogue between them seems to show that only the creature understands that he is a reflection of his maker, but this is a truth that Frankenstein himself is trying so hard to deny. However, the creature also knows that he was made to be more powerful as well. He says to Frankenstein,
Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple.(114)
He knows that even though he has physical strength, it is his creator who has the mental prowess and intelligence. Thus, they are more than reflections, but rather, complements of each other. This conversation alone shows so much of the yin and yang balance of opposites between the two of them: brains and brawn, life and death, maker and made. The irony in this part of the conversation is that although the creature makes it known to Frankenstein that he is stronger and can easily kill Frankenstein and his family (as he has already done with little William), he still puts himself at Frankenstein’s mercy because he knows that Frankenstein is the only one with the power to make him a companion. If Frankenstein cannot protect him as a creator would, then the only protection the creature is willing to accept is that of having someone else like him so he’s safe from loneliness.
This very Biblical allusion puts Frankenstein in a position where they face an ultimatum. Just as Adam and Eve had to depart the presence of God after they displeased Him, the creature falls from the favor of his creator. He even says,
Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.(114)
But this is not a very complete allusion to the story of Adam and Eve, because Adam too was cast out of Eden for a misdeed, and so is the creature. He was despised of Frankenstein first for his appearance and second for murdering William. And the creature is not beloved to Frankenstein as Adam was to God despite the disobedience that cast him out in the first place. God also gave Adam and the entire race of mankind the key to coming back to His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ. Frankenstein offered no such salvation for his creation.
The creature then proceeds to narrate his adventures, and then it is discovered how he learned to read and speak so intelligently. Meeting the old man and his children during another chapter made the creature feel loved for the first time in his life. But that is lost when he reveals his appearance to them. It’s at this point that he begins to question why he would be created this way. This leads him to conclude that whoever created him cannot be all benevolent, for it shows in the results of his mad experiments.
If Frankenstein is truly supposed to be a New Prometheus, then he has truly become a new type of Prometheus, one that is a creator-destroyer that was never meant to create in the first place. The conversation between Frankenstein and the creature gives so much insight into the inner turmoil that both of them experience simultaneously. It also shows the points in time where their motives and characters are so reflective of each other. This may possibly lead to the possibility of Frankenstein not just making a monster, but also making a monster of himself.
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