It is inhumanly tall, with a mutilated and malformed physique, devoid of emotion or sympathy, it is a murderous fiend; this is the description the society in Mary Shelley’s novel gives to Frankenstein’s monster. Nowhere in their summary of the creature would society mention the creatures love, compassion, or heroic acts. They judged him based on his intimidating appearance, and when he did begin to murder, they blamed him for his actions, assuming that he was innately violent and cruel. Victor Frankenstein and others did not acknowledge the fact that their actions, their judgments, exclusivity, and hatred contributed to the monster committing crimes. The premature judgment of the monster is an allegory for the real world; criminals are judged based off of their actions alone, with little thought given as to why they were driven to their wrongdoing. Creatures are rarely born monsters, but rather, they are created when they are not given adequate parental guidance, are excluded from society, and experience excessive feelings of animosity.
In Mary Shelley’s novel, and in the real world, beings struggle when they are not given adequate care, guidance, and love, leading to criminality. When Victor Frankenstein abandoned his creation, the result was disastrous; his monster was left alone, not knowing what to do, or how to live. Miraculously, he managed to survive, and become knowledgeable on his own. However, he still felt angry and injured by how Frankenstein, his father, had abandoned him, and so the monster ended up seeking revenge by killing all those that Victor held dear. Lack of care, let alone abandonment, has been proven to negatively affect children. Neglected children often have psychological disorders, depression, and struggle to have lasting relationships and friendships. Furthermore, these children are more likely to be prosecuted for juvenile delinquency (SPCC, 2014). If one is not loved and cared for, they would likely not love and care others, as no one set that example. Without guidance in social interactions, education, and life in general, it is impossible to thrive and fit into society, which can lead to resentment and anger. This is shown both with Frankenstein’s monster, and with neglected children; they are not loved, and as a result, they are angered and confused, leading them to commit crimes, which further distances them from society.
When one is excluded and abused by society, naturally, they will want to rebel against it, which can have violent results. This case is clearly shown in Shelley’s novel. When Frankenstein’s monster, with the utmost politeness, tries to join the family living in the cottage, a man beats him viciously with a stick. Then, after rescuing a drowning girl, he is “rewarded” with her father shooting him. No matter how kind and helpful the creature was, society rejected him. Hopeless, he accepted that humanity would never do anything but despise him, so he began to hate humanity, and eventually became a murderer. The creature’s situation and reactions are also reflected in the real world. Mass murderers often feel victimized and removed from society, and as though the only way they can do anything meaningful and fulfilling is through slaughtering human beings (Stanford, 1994). Though disturbing and extreme, this reaction to being excluded is to be expected. Without positive societal relations, an individual will have no reason to care for the society, on the contrary, they will likely want revenge on its members for leaving them in such a miserable situation.
Moods and feelings are infectious, and when one is exposed to a negative atmosphere for a majority of there lives, the outcome can calamitous, both for the individual and society. There is, in fact, a psychological term called the “emotional contagion,” a process by which moods and emotions are transferred from one person to another. This phenomenon is manifested in the case of Frankenstein’s monster. While he is initially benevolent, as he experiences more and more negative feelings, namely hatred and disgust, these feeling begin to rub off on him. This idea can also be clearly seen in marriages where, if one spouse is unhappy it will likely be that the other is unhappy as well. Additionally, people in prisons, who reside in environments filled with hatred and depression, are likely to be feeling those emotions themselves as a result of the “emotional contagion”(Lewandowski, 2018). If one were to experience exclusively negativity and unpleasant emotions, they would likely become desperate and angry, which could result in them acting on these feelings in the form of murder.
Parental guidance and societal relations play an incredibly large role in the formation of creatures, good and bad. Humans and Frankenstein’s monster are not solitary creatures; they require love, compassion, and inclusion. If not given these things by their societies, they will be angry and resentful, and potentially, they will try to harm the societies that hurt them. So, while murderers are responsible for their actions, one must also consider what made the felon do what they did, and how that can be resolved. This does not mean locking them in prison, leaving them to rot alone and angry. It means reconciling with them, empathizing with them, and trying to understand them. I am not saying that we should let mass murderers run free in the streets. But, perhaps, we should consider their story, help them rehabilitate, and try to integrate them into society, something which they may have never been part of. There are dangers, and this issue is clearly not black and white, and nor is it easy. However, it is, without a doubt, of exceptional importance to try to communicate with and aid those who we may rather not associate with. For that is how to deconstruct a monster.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851. Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus : the 1818 Text. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
SPCC, et al. (2014, July 17). Effects of Bad Parenting on Your Child. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://americanspcc.org/effects-bad-parenting-child/
Stanford University News Report. (1994, May 31). Graduate student examines America’s fascination with serial killers. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://web.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/94/940531Arc4242.html
Lewandowski, G. W., Jr. (2018). Is a Bad Mood Contagious? Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-a-bad-mood-contagious/