The Theme of Injustice in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s 17th century novel, Frankenstein, is actually a book that shows three types of oppression, particularly natural oppression, legal oppression, and most of all, social oppression. Frankenstein is in fact a novel where the characters are all innocent– consisting of the man himself who produced the monster, Dr. Frankenstein, all those who died a tragic death in the story, and even the beast himself who was responsible for most of the killings.
These innocent characters have actually merely ended up being victims of their circumstances and so they have all experienced injustice. This paper looks for initially to prove and develop the innocence of the characters in Frankenstein in the middle of the vengeance, regret and deaths. After which, the paper seeks to discuss the oppressions that have actually befallen these rather innocent people.
The Proofs of Innocence
The characters in Frankenstein might appear harsh, may have acted harshly towards others, and may even have resorted to killing. Nevertheless, they have actually not done these seemingly evil things deliberately. They are all just victims of the scenarios they are in at the moment.
Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein himself may be thought about the root of all the evil that occurs from the production of the creature. His hubris may have been the reason behind his development of a monster that ultimately became a killing maker. Nevertheless, there are a number of circumstances in the book that show Frankenstein’s innocence of such blame.
The most essential, nevertheless, is that Frankenstein himself states that his creation of the monster was based on his desire to “bestow animation upon lifeless matter in order to renew life where death had actually obviously devoted the body to corruption” (Shelley 4). Frankenstein did not dream of producing a vengeful beast that would cause murder, regret and pain.
We can see from the aforementioned line that Frankenstein is innocence because his function in developing the beast is to ideally damage or exceed the one natural phenomenon that has actually bothered him a lot– death. As a common scientist who wants absolutely nothing but to improve the predicament of people, Frankenstein undertakes the experiment.
The only issue is that the experiment ends up being a mistake and a permanent one. Nonetheless, based on the abovementioned declarations and based on the reality that a number of times in the story he himself experienced excellent regret for the deaths of his loved ones, Dr. Frankenstein himself is indeed a great guy with an original honorable function for his production.
The Monster. The monster may perhaps have actually earned an unfavorable track record in the novel due to the fact that of his murder of 2 very defenseless victims– an innocent ten-year-old boy called William, a powerless woman called Elizabeth, and a good and loyal pal in the name of Henry Clerval. All these seem unforgivable acts for these individuals have definitely nothing to do with the beast’s sorrow and the rejection he has gotten from people.
However, the beast has actually possibly done these things only out of vengeance, pain and self-hatred. The monster remains in truth a creature of compassion for in fact he discusses, “This human characteristic of kindness moved me sensibly” (Shelley 12). The monster admits to having actually been accustomed to stealing some food from the store of he cottagers in the evening, but he says that when he has actually discovered how his actions injure individuals, he begins to please himself with food from the forest.
He also points out, “My thoughts now ended up being more active, and I longed to discover the intentions and sensations of these lovely creatures” (Shelley 12). Moreover, he confesses that by finding out the history of the cottagers, he was deeply pleased and he discovered “to admire their virtues and to deprecate the vices of mankind” (Shelley 15). Based on these declarations, the beast is not an evil creature at all however rather a kind being that feels sorry for human beings, who are not even his own kind.
Another evidence of the beast’s innocence is that it has actually chosen to study the people’s language, history and literature because he wonders about their culture and how to interact with them. The problem is that he has failed with his very first test– talking with the blind male De Lacey because he was caught by De Lacey’s child Felix and driven away.
However, in spite of the reality that “his journeys were long and the sufferings he sustained extreme” (Shelley 16), the beast still decides to save a young girl from drowning in the stream and for which he is shot by the guy who might have been the lady’s lover. At this time one hears the monster stating, “This was then the benefit of my altruism! I had conserved a human being from damage, and as a remuneration, I get a shattered … flesh and bone” (Shelley 16).
This possibly is the last straw that should have snuffed out in the beast’s heart that last flicker of hope he has for mankind’s compassion and with it came his change into a wicked animal. And perhaps one can excuse the beast for the series of killings that follows after this psychological reckoning.
From the above declarations, one can conclude that Dr. Frankenstein and the monster remain in reality merely victims of their own scenarios and are therefore complimentary from blame. Dr. Frankenstein and the monster have truly good-hearted intentions: the physician desires a service to death and all the beast desires is to discover as much as he can about humans and to study their language and culture and ultimately to belong to the human society.
The Acts of Oppression
After establishing the proofs of the innocence of Dr. Frankenstein and the monster, one can see the outright oppression that these two characters have actually experienced, as well as all those whose lives they have touched. Shelley’s Frankenstein is stated to have been “based upon Godwin’s rationalist ethics which see wicked as a repercussion of maltreatment of oppression” (Levine).
One of the injustices experienced mainly by Dr. Frankenstein and the monster is natural injustice. Natural oppression is thought about the offense of one’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of joy.
Natural Injustice. In the case of the monster, there are numerous instances where these natural rights are violated. To start with, his simple production was definitely an offense of his right to be born through natural birth. This suggests that Dr. Frankenstein ought to not even thought of developing him in the very first location.
Another circumstances of natural oppression that the monster has felt is when Viktor himself leaves him and feels a certain repugnance towards him regardless of the truth that he is his creation. A 3rd circumstances of the offense of natural injustice directed versus the monster is when Dr. Frankenstein breaks his guarantee and terminates his production of the female beast while swearing, “; never ever will I produce another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness” (Shelley 20).
The monster establishes a deal with Dr. Frankenstein in Chapter 17 commanding him to make a woman for the monster and threatening to deny him of lifelong joy if he does not agree to it. Nonetheless Dr. Frankenstein ends the experiment and in doing so, breaches the monster’s natural right to and maybe his only possibility at happiness.
Aside from the offenses of the monster’s natural rights, Dr. Frankenstein himself is also not spared from these. The pain of injustice strikes the medical professional when his mother Caroline Frankenstein captures the scarlet fever and her health problem becomes extreme. His mom, who has even been left bad by the death of her father and who has actually never ever done anything wrong, passes away a natural yet painful death.
Another instance of natural injustice is when Dr. Frankenstein learns in Chapter 7 that his sibling William is dead and his neck is broken by the monster, who confesses the criminal offense in Chapter 16. A 3rd infraction of natural injustice is the death of Henry Clerval, Dr. Frankenstein’s childhood buddy, in the beast’s hands in Chapter 21.
This act of injustice is directed not just versus Henry but against Dr. Frankenstein himself, for it is said that after Henry’s death, Dr. Frankenstein “grew feverish and a darkness pushed around him and no one was near him who relieved him with the gentle voice of love” (Shelley 21).
And possibly the final straw is the death of Dr. Frankenstein’s partner herself towards completion of the book. Dr. Frankenstein discovers her “”lifeless and inanimate, tossed across the bed, her head suspending and her pale and distorted functions half covered by her hair” (Shelley 23).
The natural oppression Dr. Frankenstein feels at this circumstances also turns him into a creature of revenge and misery, although he does not wish to. Pessimism, anguish and isolation fill Dr. Frankenstein’s heart as he says, “it was throughout sleep alone that I could taste delight. O blessed sleep!” (Shelley 24).
Legal Injustice. Aside from the natural injustice inflicted upon Dr. Frankenstein, the beast, and all the innocent individuals who pass away in the hands of the beast, another type of injustice that is explained in the novel is legal injustice. Legal injustice is inflicted first on Justine Moritz, the woman who is adopted by the Frankensteins, when he is accused of, tried and executed for William’s death in Chapter 7.
The reality that the monster apparently set her up is confessed by the monster himself in Chapter 16. Justine’s death is clearly an act of legal injustice because Dr. Frankenstein himself does refrain from doing anything to show that it is his creation that has actually killed William and not Justine. Justine’s trial and execution is even made more unjustified by the reality that she admits having “confessed a lie and that she admitted, that she may get absolution” (Shelley 23).
In short, Justine’s injustice is threefold in that she is first incorrectly accused, then she is wrongly sentenced to death and made to confess a lie. Last but not least, she even passes away with regret of her incorrect confession. Her last words are, “fraud lies much heavier at her heart than all her other sins” (Shelley 23).
And maybe, one of the most agonizing acts of oppression that might ever occur to someone is that you are accused of killing someone who you have dearly enjoyed and preferred all your life. The legal oppression experienced by Justine Moritz ultimately becomes a natural injustice on the part of Dr. Frankenstein, who blames himself for his death. Nevertheless, Shelley is stated to have actually emphasized “Viktor Frankenstein’s passive reaction to the injustice of the Moritz trial” (Vincent). However, injustice begets oppression.
Social Injustice. Apart from natural and legal oppression, the concept of social injustice penetrates Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Social oppression is the oppression that affects someone who feels that society declines him. It remains in truth said that one certainly feels “strong outrage against social injustice in the females of Frankenstein.” (Bowerbank)
Again, the monster is the essential victim of this type of oppression. The monster is declined wherever he goes and this kind of rejection even begins with the most agonizing rejection of all– Dr. Frankenstein’s rejection of the monster. It is extremely uncomfortable certainly for the monster to recognize that the man himself who has produced him in fact feels “out of breath horror and disgust filling his heart” (Shelley 5) upon seeing the beast.
After this, there have still been numerous instances of social injustice that follow particularly when, as the beast talks with old male De Lacey, the boy Felix came “dashing him to the ground and striking him violently with a stick” (Shelley 15), which he does despite the monster’s excellent intents.
Maybe one last act of social injustice against the monster is when it was shot by the enthusiast of the girl whom he has actually rescued from drowning in the stream. How much pain and injustice do you believe one would feel if he helped a stranger and in the end this complete stranger robs and kills him? It resembles inviting a beggar to your house where you feed and outfit him and he robs and kills you.
This social oppression against the monster is maybe the cruelest of all the types of oppressions in the story for regardless of the natural predisposition of the monster towards violence, he has made efforts to civilize himself and to comprehend man. Nonetheless, his efforts and altruism have been paid back with condemnation, rejection and hatred.
On the subject of economic status, or wealth and hardship, another circumstances of social injustice is the De Lacey household, who is described by the monster in Chapter 12 as poor. He states, “It was poverty, and the De Lacey household suffered that evil in a really distressing degree” (Shelley 12). This is clearly an act of social injustice on the part of the De Lacey family.
Furthermore, the monster’s account of the love story between Felix and Safie in Chapter 14 also shows some acts of social injustice. One last thing is that a negative, overbearing picture of the rich is represented in the novel for it appears that the beast is turned down by the wealthy yet it is with the impoverished that he has actually looked for shelter.
Based on the previously mentioned declarations on the De Lacey family, Shelley’s Frankenstein is certainly “an articulation of he anxieties of those marginalized by … socioeconomic status under laws governing the circulation of home in England.” (Peek)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is an ageless masterpiece for it mirrors not only the oppressions of its time but also of the present. Natural injustice is displayed in the very act of Dr. Frankenstein creating the beast thus denying it of a possibility to be born naturally. Natural injustice is also directed not only at the monster but also at all the innocent people who have actually passed away in the novel leaving Dr. Frankenstein in excellent psychological pain and therefore depriving him too of happiness.
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Legal justice, on the other hand, is the injustice experienced by Justine Moritz upon being set up and incorrectly founded guilty of and executed for killing William. Lastly and worst of all, Shelley’s Frankenstein enlivens social injustice in both the rejections the monster has experienced and the poverty that the beast thinks the De Lacey household does not should have.
Nevertheless, regardless of all the violence and oppressions in the story, one can see that Dr. Frankenstein and the beast are themselves not worthwhile of blame for both their intentions are pure and sublime as the sun and they themselves are both victims of oppression. Certainly more than simply a novel about dark science and revenge, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a testimony to how natural, legal and social injustice can bring about the beast in somebody and how seemingly devastating injustice is.
Bowerbank, Sylvia. “The Social Order VS The Scalawag: Mary Shelley’s Contradictory-mindedness in Frankenstein.” ELH. 46 (Autumn 1979): 418-431. 9 May 2010.
Levine, George. “Frankenstein and the Tradition of Realism.” Unique: A Forum on Fiction. 7 (Autumn 1973): 14-30. 10 May 2010.
Peek, Patricia. “‘The words caused me to turn towards myself’: The Politics of Inheritance in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” ETD Collection for Fordham University. (1 Jan 2007). 11 May 2010.
Shelley, Mary W. Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. 2004. Pinkmonkey.com. 9 May 2010.
Vincent, Patrick. “‘This Sorrowful Mockery of Justice’: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Geneva.” European Romantic Review. 18 (5 Dec 2007): 645-661. 11 May 2010.