“It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account, we shall be more attached to one another.”
While reading Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley, I found myself infatuated with the monster. I could not fathom why I was drawn to such a grotesque character who was obsessed with destruction and revenge. Further analysis allowed for me to learn the significance behind the monster’s character and Shelley’s connection with him. From there I was astounded to see how the monster played a role in my own life.
Upon analyzing the text through several literary lenses, I discovered how Mary Shelley had written herself into some of the characters, specifically the creature. In a society that only acknowledged women as essential to reproduction and care taking, Mary Shelley could herself be considered a monster. She suffered through several miscarriages; failing to bring life into the world and thus, failing to fulfill the single purpose of a woman. Shelley was also able to find her voice, which for many other women was often lost in a sea of men, through her writing. As a young girl in the 21st century, I wholeheartedly admire Shelley’s ability to channel her pain into a literary masterpiece. Yet back then, a woman like her was deemed unworthy of the praise and admiration I would bestow on her. She was a monster. An outcast in a world that saw her as different because she did not meet the expectations they set for women. Victor Frankenstein, driven by the loss of his mother, intended to defy the rules of nature in order to defeat death, a feat Shelley could only imagine and write about. However, the outcome of Frankenstein’s experiments is ultimately a physical manifestation of how Shelley felt within her own life. A “revolting” creature of man.
The time I spent considering the idea of Shelley writing herself into her antagonist provided me an opportunity to contemplate why I was drawn to him despite his immoralities. In my own life, I have felt like a monster, completely set apart from others on account of my appearance and personality. As a mixed kid, I never felt like I belonged to a particular race. In the eyes of everyone else I was too white or too black; no one at school let me feel like I could be both. For many years, I kept quiet as people ridiculed my skin colour, my lips, my forehead, and even my hair. I have grown up believing that there is beauty in everyone, so I was shocked that minor details about another person evoked such cruelty. Even my music choices, my passion for drama, and lack of sports ability have been at the centre of criticism from those around me. People tend to attack differences because their small mindedness only permits them to appreciate aspects of others that are similar to themselves. When I was introduced to the monster in the novel, I immediately felt connected to him. His love for society was squelched by their hatred for his monstrosities and in return for the pain they dealt him, he sought revenge. Granted, there was wickedness in his deeds but I resonated with the feelings that drove him to murder.
The antagonist is often labelled as the only true bad guy within the storyline. But my personal connection with the character, the author’s own feelings highlighted within the character, and the gentle side of the monster described in the novel proves to the audience that this stereotype simply is not true. Mankind can be extraordinarily cruel to those among them who exhibit differences, whether they be insignificant or grotesque. Shelley brought to life not only a monster, but the hatred society can have towards things people they deem as outcasts. By writing herself into the character, readers are able to connect with the monster who experienced what many of us have experienced in our own lives.
Through the eyes of an outcast, I saw myself. Dejected and broken down by a society who did not appreciate me for me. My beauty was overlooked, my voice was not heard, my differences were attacked. Through the eyes of an outcast, I discovered how such an inspirational author suffered through hardships by failing to remain similar to other women. Through the eyes of an outcast, I discovered a monster who had experienced hatred for his differences come to life at the hands of the woman who was him. And I did not feel alone. Because it turns out, we are all monsters.