As cheesy as this is about to sound, I think Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was gifted to me by the universe. I first read Frankenstein in July, and for me, this past summer was an incredibly lonely one. And, as strange as this might sound, I think I needed to be told a story of loneliness in order to feel less lonely; I needed someone to relate to, and I was able to find that with the monster.
I guess I should start off by explaining why I felt so lonely in the first place. For one thing, I had many friends that had graduated in June. The fact that I probably wouldn’t get to see them as often was difficult for me to process. Not being able to see the familiar faces of my friends in the halls and after school at choir was heartbreaking for me, not to mention that some of them had even moved to new cities and provinces in order to pursue their educations. This realization was enough to make me feel lonely.
But I also think I was partly at fault for how I was feeling. I could have reached out to people over the summer, but I didn’t. I could have made more of an avid effort to communicate with others and make plans, but I didn’t do this either. I guess part of me was afraid to do this, and I think this ties back to how abnormally low my self-esteem is. I have such an irrational fear of being rejected by my own friends. In a way, I denied myself of having the companionship and this is what essentially contributed to my feelings of loneliness.
In comparison to my situation, the monster actually faced rejection, whereas for me rejection was only a fear—never a reality. But for the both of us, it was still the idea of rejection that caused our loneliness. And the thing about loneliness is that it’s capable of destroying you. I think that worst part about it all is that you’re left alone to your own thoughts. I can especially relate to this because I struggle with anxiety; and how absolutely dreadful the mind of an anxious person can be. There were many times when I needed a pleasant distraction from my own mind. Not only would a friend have provided this distraction, but a friend would have also helped to relieve me of my anxieties by reassuring me.
This reminds me of something Walton wrote in one of his letters. He considered what life without companionship would be like. He stated, “If I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection…I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me…I greatly need a friend who would have sense enough to regulate my mind.” Here, Walton explored the necessity of companionship; the purpose of a friend is to help us get through our tribulations, and a friend also gives us someone to relate to. That being said, when Walton mentioned that a friend has sense enough to “regulate” the mind, it can also be inferred that friends help keep us grounded.
If I had made a better effort at reaching out to friends this summer, for example, perhaps my worries wouldn’t have been as debilitating as they were. Similarly, if the monster had someone to keep him grounded, perhaps he wouldn’t have given into hatred and revenge—perhaps he wouldn’t have become the abomination everyone assumed him to be. One companion was all it would have taken. One companion could have, like Walton said, sustained him in his dejection. A friend could have also helped him navigate the world around him, while also encouraging him to resist giving into the darkness he later succumbed to. Loneliness was the true cause of his own moral downfall; a friend would have prevented this destruction because a friend would have prevented the loneliness.
I understand why the monster committed the crimes he did though because I understand how embittering loneliness can be. You start to hate yourself and everyone who made you feel lonely in the first place. It’s maddening. This is why I ached for the monster and the way he was treated, and I think the monster would have ached for me too, had been aware of my circumstances. I think this is why I sought friendship from the novel and from the monster himself. Again, this is because it all comes down to needing someone to relate to.
I was lonely, and this story—one of loneliness— came to me just when I needed it. For this, I thank the monster. For this, I also owe my gratitude to Mary Shelley who gave her readers this beautifully relatable story about loneliness, about how we all need companionship and the validation that companionship offers.