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The classic 1818 novel Frankenstein, written by author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, is without a doubt an essential piece of literature. This critically acclaimed novel presents the monster, one of literature’s most intriguing and influential characters. The complexity of the monster’s character has been debated for nearly 200 years since the novel was published. The vital argument presented in Frankenstein is whether or not the reader should feel sympathy for the monster or feel condemnation for the violent and wicked acts that the monster had done. Based on support from Frankenstein and additional academic research, it is clear that the monster does indeed deserve sympathy from the readers rather than condemnation. The monster deserves sympathy because he was neglected by his creator, he was physically attacked by those who saw him, he was verbally assaulted due to his ugliness, and he didn’t have a creature similar to him to befriend.
To begin with, the monster had been abandoned by his creator, Victor Frankenstein, right after he had been created. According to the monster, his ferocious behavior had been linked to the fact that Victor had not been in his life. To support his allegation, the monster states: “I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me” (Shelley 114). The monster is implying that he was kind and loving but was altered negatively by Victor’s negligence, which left the monster alone and miserable. Given the monster’s reason, it is reasonable for one to believe that neglect can cause the neglected to behave aggressively. In the article “Child Abuse and Neglect, Development Role Attainment, and Adult Arrests,” author Maureen Allwood correlates child neglect to adult aggression. Specifically, she states that “existing research indicates that childhood abuse and neglect are associated with increased risk for problems in three critical areas of development (education, employment, and marriage) and later outcomes of adult criminal behavior” (Allwood 556). This criminal behavior that Allwood speaks of includes homicide, which the monster had committed throughout Frankenstein allegedly due to his neglect after he had been created by Victor. Because Allwood linked criminal behavior to childhood neglect, the assertion that the monster had made of his aggressive behavior being caused by neglect is in fact valid. Overall, the monster would have remained benevolent and loving had Victor Frankenstein not abandoned him, proving that the monster should deserve sympathy for his neglect.
Secondly, in addition to the monster in Frankenstein being neglected by his creator, he is abused by those who see him. The monster’s physical abuse triggers his violent behavior. He describes a time where he entered the cottage that he had often visited to assist a blind old man, not knowing that the other three residents would return and see him. Specifically, he details this incident, stating: “Agatha fainted, and Safie, unable to attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage. Felix darted forward, and with supernatural force tore me from his father, to whose knees I clung, in a transport of fury, he dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with a stick. (Shelley 161)” Incidents like this cause the monster to retaliate against human beings, thus committing homicides. Evidence of aggressive behavior due to abuse can be indicated in the informative article “Adult Psychopathy and Violent Behavior in Males with Early Neglect and Abuse” by S. Lang, B. af Klinteberg, and P-O Alm. It is stated in this article that “Studies have shown, in both humans and non-human primates, that aggressive violent behavior can be stimulated by prolonged stress in the immediate environment such as abuse in the family, poor rearing or unpredictability in everyday life” (Alm, Klinteberg & Lang 94). Additionally, many statistics have been presented in this article to prove that aggressive and violent behavior is a major result of abuse. The Psychopathy Checklist (PCL), a psychological tool mentioned in this article, proves that individuals who had experienced more extensive childhood victimization would score higher on the PCL as adults than less victimized individuals (Klinteberg, Lang 94). In general, the monster deserves sympathy from the readers because his aggressive behavior had been caused by the frequent abuse from those around him.
In addition, the reader should feel sympathy for the monster because he was hideous in the eyes of humans and therefore verbally assaulted. This definitely restricted the monster from easily encountering humans as they would reject him due to his ugly appearance. The monster discusses a time where he was attempting to befriend a child, who was later revealed to be Victor Frankenstein’s younger brother William, thinking that he was unprejudiced because he had been too young to have developed a revulsion for the monster’s deformity. The monster planned to take him and educate him as a companion but he had been unsuccessful. William resisted as the monster grabbed him, screaming: “Let me go monster! Ugly wretch! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre. Let me go, or I will tell my papa” (Shelley 170). This upset the monster, which was a reasonable way to react considering the fact that he had been verbally assaulted due to his physical ugliness. Additionally, according to the article “Emotions Associated With Verbal Aggression Expression and Suppression” by Lindsey Susan Aloia & Denise Haunani Solomon, “research shows that aggressive communication can harm the recipient’s emotional well-being, leading to feelings of aggression, anger, anxiety, depression, and distress” (Aloia & Solomon 1). The monster had become aggressive and depressed due to the verbal assault from his deformity. In general, one should sympathize with the monster because of the verbal assault he dealt with due to his ugliness.
Lastly, the reader should sympathize with the monster because he didn’t have a creature similar to him to befriend. In other words, his lack of companionship caused the monster to develop aggressive behavior to those who mistreated him. Nobody wanted to befriend the monster because of his repulsive and inhuman appearance, something that the monster could not avoid. After Victor Frankenstein declined to create a female creature for the monster to love, the monster replied: “I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind?” (Shelley 175). He is indicating that since all of mankind hates him, he should deserve to have a companion of his species built for him. Additionally, it was reasonable for the monster to become furious after Victor declined his proposal because he would continue to be miserable and aggressive. The monster did not have a single companion and therefore he became lonely and depressed. Loneliness and social exclusion caused the monster to become hostile as well. The article “On the Links Between Aggressive Behaviour, Loneliness, and Patterns of Close Relationship Among Non-Clinical School-Age Boys” by Michal Al-Yagon vividly discusses the relationship between solitude and aggression. In particular, the author states: “Children who felt highly lonely differed significantly from children who experienced low levels of loneliness in the extent to which their teachers rated them as manifesting proactive aggression, where the child actively partakes in aggressive actions toward another person” (Al-Yagon 85). This is evidence that the monster in Frankenstein became hostile due to the long-term loneliness that he was forced to deal with. Overall, the monster deserves sympathy from the readers because he didn’t have a companion similar to him in his life.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s classic 1818 novel Frankenstein is certainly a vital piece of literature. This widely acclaimed novel consists of one of literature’s most interesting and influential characters in all of literature, Victor Frankenstein’s monster. The complexity of the monster’s character has been debated for nearly 200 years since the novel was published. Furthermore, Frankenstein presents an argument regarding the plot of the novel. The argument is whether or not the reader should feel sympathy for the monster or feel condemnation for the vicious acts that the monster had committed. According to Frankenstein and supportive scholarly articles, it is without a doubt that the monster does deserve sympathy from the readers rather than condemnation. The monster deserves sympathy because he was abandoned by his creator, he was mistreated by those who saw him, he was verbally assaulted for being ugly, and he didn’t have a creature of his species to befriend.
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