Frankenstein: The Real Monster

What does it mean to be a monster? Who is the real monster in Frankenstein? Is Victor, the well-intentioned yet trouble scientist, a monster? What is his creation the monster? Are they both monsters in their own ways?





  1. an imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening.
  2. any creature so ugly or monstrous as to frighten people.
  3. any animal or human grotesquely deviating from the normal shape, behavior, or character.
  4. a person who excites horror by wickedness, cruelty, etc.

Synonyms include beast, demon, devil, and freak.



Throughout all of these definitions of the word “monster”, the commonality of “unusual” shines through. The word is constructed on top of a foundation of abnormality, a central theme that is strung throughout Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

From Victor’s odd obsession with the creation of human life, to the monster’s revolting appearance and violent actions, the story is unlike the other of its time in many ways, perhaps because of the originality of the characters. 

So who is the real monster? In my mind, I would say that both the creator and the creation are deserving of the title. However, the reasoning behind this are polar opposites for each of them. Victor Frankenstein’s character is constantly portrayed as the protagonist, and is given characteristics that guide our empathy to him, such as though his mourning and emotionally weakened state that follow the creations birth. Mary Shelley was able to create this character who acted in such horrific ways, such as how he collected and assembled the limbs and body parts from dead bodies, yet was still capable of earning the feelings of the audience. On the other hand, she manifested the monster, a hideous and murderous individual that all ran from. However, Shelley’s monster was also able to pull the emotional strings of the readers. So the real question is, how is the audience able to connect with such odd and unusual characters? In my opinion, we are able to relate to these characters because, in reality, all people are both monstrous and human like. Confused? Let me explain. As we are taught in school, we, as humans, are able to connect with one another because of the human condition: the parts of life that are common between all people, and the similarities between our emotions, even when we may not be in the same situation. So then, what does it mean when people don’t see eye-to-eye, when we are incapable of understanding what is going through the mind of another? When two people aren’t able to connect with each other, it is because of the last of human condition, or the lack of commonality between two peoples experiences, which can also be described as being too different or “abnormal” to another person for them to relate to you (see, it eventually came full circle, didn’t it?). When people don’t understand each other, it is because their normal isn’t the same as the other person’s normal, a theory that can be applied to Frankenstein.

If you’ve ever been in conflict with another person, then you know what it feels like to not understand another person. Often, when we are in conflict, we are told to “step into another person’s shoes”,  or imagine what the other person is feeling and thinking in order to better understand them. What they’re really saying is to utilize the power of the human condition, just in a simpler manner. In Frankenstein, Shelley lays down the red carpet that guides our connections with the characters, through the feelings she describes. She creates instances in which people are able to connect with her odd characters, even when they appear to have nothing in common with the readers. Even though you aren’t a large, mechanically-constructed figure that goes around killing people(I hope), you were probably able to connect with the monster’s grief after being isolated from society, or the monster’s desire to seek revenge from his master after Victor brought him into his terrible life. Through this, Shelley tells the leader to “step into their shoes”, without saying anything at all.

So now you’re wondering if I’m ever going to get to answering the question, and the answer is yes; everything has been leading up to this. The true monster of this story is everyone, not just Victor and the creation. This is because, as we defined it, a monster is something or someone that is considered abnormal, to the interpreter. I found various parts of all the characters that I couldn’t understand, and in return caused me a little fear. For example, I couldn’t understand how Elizabeth never seemed to be bothered by the fact that she was destined to marry her step-brother, something I personally considered abnormal. Thinking about it made me not like her character as much, further pushing the idea that she was “monstrous”, in my eyes anyway. I also found this to be applicable to other characters in the story. This also explains why Victor calls his creation a monster; it’s because he was unable to connect with it since he didn’t know very much about it, and since he found it to be too different for him to be comfortable around it, the way a little kid might be scared to talk to others because they know nothing about them. At the same time, however, I was still able to relate to these characters, thus bringing me to my final point: Everyone is both monstrous and human; it is simply up to the interpreter to decide the ratios for each person or thing. In Frankenstein, I would say that the ratios are simply amplified for Victor and his “monster”, because the reader is exposed to their characters much more. In the end, however, the balance between normal and abnormal is dependant on the individual that is interpreting them, and that person’s experiences and beliefs. To say the very least, both Victor and his creation are monsters, just in very different ways.

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6 thoughts on “Frankenstein: The Real Monster

  1. Dear Simran,

    This is such a powerful piece. Beginning this post with all those questions allowed for me to contemplate each one as I read over your writing, which kept me utterly intrigued by the way. Defining a monster was such a perfect transition into your writing as well. To step into another’s shoes, what an interesting concept. I had not even considered that as a message Shelley was sending to her audience but now I completely understand it. Overall, the comparison and contrast of both monsters in the novel was a very unique idea and I loved reading about it. One note I have is that you sort of answered your question within the first paragraph so maybe that final paragraph could just begin with you stating that everyone is a monster. Leaving out the first sentence would make that statement much more powerful. Thank you so much for this spectacular post, it is incredibly deep and meaningful and just the thing to end my night off right.


    1. Dear Lexi,

      Thank you so much for reading my blog post this week; I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Now reading over it, I can see how that one sentence kind of disrupted the suspense I was building, and I agree that fixing it will make it much more powerful.
      I’m also really happy to see that I was able to better your understanding of the story, as it makes me feel proud of my writing. To be honest, this was one of those rare pieces of writing that didn’t feel like work. The very second I saw the question, my mind started racing, and for once, figuring out what I wanted to write wasn’t the biggest struggle: Trying to fit all of my ideas into a moderately sized blog was. I loved writing this piece, because everything just clicked for me.

      Once again, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I’m glad to have ended if your night with a little bit of insight.

      Sincerely (and with lots of love),

  2. Dear Simran,

    The reasoning behind your piece really provides an excellent insight to what is seen from your perspective. I do also believe that the choice of your blog can very well be relevant to various discussions of Frankenstein. How you incorporated the theme to the human condition was incredibly clever too. I especially loved how you gave the denotation of the supposed term, “Monster”. It’s a great way to introduce your piece. However, going over it just a few times to catch some slight errors can be beneficial to your future posts. “When two people aren’t able to connect with each other, it is because of the *last* of human condition, or the lack of commonality between two peoples experiences…”. I believe you intended to say “lack” instead of “last”, but I could be mistaken too. Your interpretation was clear and indeed powerful. Overall, I enjoyed reading this enticing post, and I look forward to more from you! 🙂



    1. Dear Naomi,
      Thank you so much for reading my blog post! I have to admit that simply breaking down the word monster was very enjoyable and that without that part, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to conclusion I did, so seeing that you mentioned that brightened my spirts. Looking over my essay again, I noticed what you were talking about regarding the typos. I know that that is one of the things that catches me everytime i write, so I’ll try to build the habit of calmly reading through my work thoroughly before posting. I’m so glad you enjoyed my piece though, and I hope to hear more from you soon!

      Sincerely, Simran

  3. Dear Simran,

    You’ve done a great job completing this piece! I am so proud of all your work and learning in this class. I really enjoyed reading this piece for two main reasons: the strength you have in your personal writing style and voice. I think that if I was asked to read this piece and match it with its writer, I would be able to match it with you. Although I am not the most familiar with your writing, your personality is so clear throughout this piece. Your voice is present within every sentence, and I commend you on this because that us still something I struggle with. From the way you inserted the dictionary styled definition to your little side comments in parenthesis, I really enjoyed reading this piece!

    The one suggestion I have for improvements is just tackling that bulky paragraph near the beginning. I felt that it could have been separated into two, allowing this piece to develop clarity and to make it more digestible to the reader.

    Thank you so much for writing this piece. I’m so eager to read your upcoming pieces to learn more from you!

    mia 🙂

    1. Dear Doza(I just decided that this is my new nickname for you; let me know what you think!)

      I literally cannot express how happy I was to see your comment on my post. Like, I’m not even joking: I’m totally fangirling right now. Ok I need to calm down. 🙂 Anyways, I really wanted to thank you for your comments on this post. It really does feel special when a grade 12 (especially one like you) commends work for lower grade levels because y’all are just a whole new level of cool, responsible people that we really look up to. You really made my day. For your other comment, I can see what you mean regarding the paragraph’s size. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I can completely understand the intimidation that came from seeing that giant paragraph(making a mental note now).

      You did mention that you somewhat struggle with style and tone, so I’ll let you in on how I achieve those. If you know me, then you know I don’t really think my sentences through completely before saying them(both a flaw and feature). That’s basically how I write; I write as if I’m speaking to another person, which is where the voice comes from, I suppose. Along with that, I’ve gotten into the habit of internally speaking whatever I read in the appropriate voice. While I was writing this, my mind was speaking the words in my voice to me at the same time. I think that’s the most helpful part for me. It also makes reading other people’s work more interesting and personal if you read it in their voice. It makes it seem more like a conversation. I hope this is helpful to you, as it is what helped me.

      Beyond that, I really want to thank you again for reading through my blog, and I hope to read and hear more from you in the future!

      Sincerely, Simran

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