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Frankenstein revolves around the conflict between two characters, Victor Frankenstein and the creature. At first glance, the discordant enemies appear to be nothing alike since they are adversaries from the first time they see each other. Many readers would attribute the dissimilarity in character personalities to their actions in the novel. The creature acts benevolently, such as when he tries to save the drowning girl and help the peasants chop wood. On the other hand, Victor appears heartless, such as when he refuses to care for his creation and does not visit his family once in six years. However, when examining the motives behind these actions, Victor and the creature are in actuality doubles of each other. Their motives are parallel throughout the story: both characters begin with a search for identity, with Victor searching for fame while the creature tries to find his role in society. This is followed by a zealous pursuit of revenge of the person each believes is responsible for his failure to get the identity he wants.
The main difference between Victor and the creature lies in their actions. The creature initially has a benevolent nature, seen through his helping the peasants and his inability to understand “how one man could go forth to murder his fellow” . Even as he begins murdering people, the creature recognizes his own evil and explains his behavior: “I am malicious because I am miserable” . Victor never recognizes the evil of his abandonment of the creature, leading readers to believe that Victor and the creature cannot be doubles of the same character. Victor acts coldly not only towards the creature, but also to his family. He visits his family only once in six years after he leaves for the University of Ingolstadt, and only then because his brother William has been murdered. Furthermore, Victor refuses to take responsibility for the upbringing of his creation and is ecstatic at its disappearance: “When I became assured that my enemy had indeed fled, I clapped my hands for joy”. Even before any interaction with the creature, Victor has already begun to refer to him as an enemy. Thus, Victor’s cruel actions contradict those of the creature, and it appears that neither character has anything in common.
However, Victor’s harsh treatment towards his family and the creature are not as cruel as they seem. The reasoning behind his treatment towards the creature is that he has realized the grave mistake he has made in creating such a horrific monster: “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form?” In light of such horrific circumstances and the fact that he has worked two years incessantly with “an ardour that far exceeded moderation” , it is understandable that he cannot develop a concise plan to fix his mistake. In addition, Victor refuses to go home to visit his family because he is so engrossed in his work. His work itself is a difficult task and is not all for selfish reasons. His ideal conclusion is to be able to “renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption” , an achievement that would benefit society and not just his fame. Thus, not only is Victor justified in his actions, he demonstrates benevolent qualities that the creature also shows.
Victor and the creature are “doubles” in the sense that they share the same goals. Their initial aspiration is a search for identity, which involves two parts: to determine their role in society and to make themselves known in the world. Victor establishes his place in society by refusing to comply with the teachings of traditional sciences, instead favoring the mystical arts. In fact, he says, “Natural philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate” . Despite the fact that his father has deemed it “sad trash” , Victor believes that natural philosophy is where his identity lies. Although he was born into a rich family and raised with the best education, he relegates himself to what he believes is true science. In doing so, Victor steps out of the boundaries of societal custom. Likewise, the creature’s first goal is to find his place in society. After reading books belonging to the peasants, the creature realizes that he is “a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned” . Furthermore, the creature compares his rejection from civilization to Adam’s in Paradise Lost: “Like Adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence” . Like Victor, the creature discovers that what he believes to be his true identity is really something abhorrent.
Both Victor and the creature then try to establish their mark in the world. In Victor’s case, this is his fervent attempt at reanimation to obtain the “glory [which] would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death” . As Victor sees it, with fame comes identity. Similarly, the creature makes a desperate attempt to give himself identity by becoming friends with the peasants: “If I fail there, I am an outcast in the world for ever” . In both instances, their efforts lead only to disappointment — the creature experiences rejection from society, and Victor fails to obtain fame.
Both characters then turn to a life of revenge. Each displays the same attitude, blaming the other for their source of misfortune. The creature accuses Victor: “Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?” . In contrast, Victor pledges to “pursue the daemon, who caused this misery” . It is not a coincidence that Victor and the creature end up isolated in the bitter icy North. Both enemies share a similar fate; they no longer have anyone left in the world and are detached from civilization.
On the basis of a superficial examination of Victor and the creature’s actions, their apparent relationship is one between enemies who have contradictory personalities. After examinations of the motives behind both characters, it is clear that they share unmistakable similarities in their driving forces. Both find out who they are, only to be discouraged by the results; as a result, both turn to a life of revenge. The parallel and intertwined events that each undergoes show how each character is merely a representation of the other.
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