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Opposite Of Adam

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Wendy Jo Allmon
English Literature II
Dr. Linda Schmidt
Literary Research Paper
20 April 1999
The Opposite of Adam
Mary Shelleys Frankenstein is a timeless tale that even today teaches the value of
good parenting. Though it is not directly a manual for child care, it is better than some of
our more modern depictions on how and why children malform (Patterson np). It is a
belief that little separation or away time between a child and a parent during the first
years are imperative for security (Henderson np) and that parents are responsible for
preparing their child for a world that requires responsibility and maturity for survival
(Foster and Cline np). Children need emotional nourishment, which includes attention,
understanding, praise, inclusion, validation, structure, and modeling (Reuther np). The
obligations and responsibilities of parents or parental figures weigh very heavily,
especially when we consider the fate of the monster and the monster-like man who
created him (Patterson np). Although not naturally, Victor Frankenstein gives birth to a
living being, which makes him the parent and therefore responsible for its welfare. He
doesnt take any responsibility or provide any of the things a parent should to their child.

The newly created creature (as I prefer to call him) is like a newborn infant. He
experiences the initial shock of being and has to adjust to the bright light and harsh
sounds as if just emerging from the womb. After his creator rejects him, he looks for
companionship with the moon, but when that proves unsatisfactory, he looks for love in
civilization. Because of his lack of parental love and guidance, because of his rejection
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from society, this creature becomes a monster (Patterson np). According to the Random
House Websters College Dictionary, a monster is a person who excites horror by
wickedness, cruelty, etc. (850). This being was not wicked or cruel when it was first
created, but only became so after being rejected by first Victor Frankenstein and then by
the rest of society. In doing studies of serial killers, experts have found that many were
emotionally abused by parents or other care givers. When a child doesnt bond with its
caretaker, there are no foundations for trust, which can lead to isolation and violent
fantasies. Since they havent developed human compassion, humans become symbols that
they use to act out these fantasies. One of the first places our society looks to for an
explanation is the serial killers upbringing (Scott np).
Part of a childs upbringing begins even before the child is born. Parents have
children for various reasons, but none for the reason Victor Frankenstein created his
child. Frankenstein, to whom the project of discovering the secrets of life and of making
use of them to manufacture a man had seemed the consummation of science and an
inestimable benefit for humanity (Johnson 259), decides to create a living being. I
believe, however, the true reason he decides to do this is only because it was thought that
it couldnt be done, and to do so would feed his overactive ego. The world was to me a
secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of
nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they are unfolded to me, are among the earliest
sensations I can remember (Shelley 30). He wants a godlike stature, The raising of
ghosts or devils…the fulfillment of which I most eagerly sought (Shelley 33). So, he
studies and experiments until he has everything planned out to where he is sure it will
work. Unfortunately, there is one detail which the creator had not foreseen: his own
reaction to the creature (Johnson 259).

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When he sees the yellowish eye of the one he had constructed and animated with
so much effort open, Frankenstein is seized with horror and flees the laboratory,
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abandoning the giant newborn to his fate (Johnson 259). If a woman gave birth to a
creature as hideous as this, she too would be horrified, but would ultimately overcome her
fear out of love for her child. Frankenstein, however, should have been prepared for the
hideousness, as it was he who built his child. Initial shock of his experiment actually
working would have been understandable, but not shock over the beings appearance as
the appearance was his own doing. He could have taken more care in the design.

Frankenstein apparently didnt care from the beginning or he would not have given his
creation an unrealistically large frame or so sloppily sutured the various parts together.

The being is merely a construction of random corpses bodily parts sewn together and
brought to life (Knorr 1/3). Of course he was hideous, but it isnt until after his birth
that Victor said, A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that
wretch (Shelley 49).
Another thing that Frankenstein didnt think about was the fact that this creature,
as any child, would learn by example. Children mimic their parents; this is how they learn
to walk, talk, and eat. When Victor destroys the bride intended for the monster, he
replies with mimetic violence: Frankensteins bride must be destroyed on their wedding
night (Cantor 99). Frankenstein did agree to make the creature a mate of his own
species, but when he destroyed it, with the creature witnessing it, what could he expect
except retribution? Frankenstein hadnt thought about the fact that this child of his
would one day grow up and desire a mate. There was no one that could even stand the
sight of the monster, let alone fall in love with him. The only hope he had of love and
understanding would come from a being of his own kind. The creature even told
Frankenstein that if he would only create a mate for him, he would leave civilization and
wreak no more havoc on mankind. Frankenstein, however, continues to be the selfish
parent that he is, and refuses this request. Eventually he does agree, but backs out on
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his promise. If Frankenstein wanted to play God, he should have been prepared to follow
through the whole process and created an Eve for his Adam.

In comparing Frankensteins creation to Gods creation of Adam, we do see
similarities. Both are a first of their kind. Both are alone. Unfortunately, that is where the
similarities end. Adam was not created as a result of an experiment. He was created out of
love. Adam was not merely a combination of others body parts sloppily put together in a
horrific manner, but was created in Gods own image. Victor rejects his creation from the
start, but Adam is loved and bestowed with a beautiful garden in which to live. It is true
that Adam is ejected from this garden, but it is only after he committed sin. Even after
this he is still not deserted, God still loves, protects, and parents him. God even provides
Adam with a mate, the same thing the creature yearns for, but is never given (Natale 2/5).

The creature recognizes his plight, Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy
Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed
(Shelley 85). He has read the book Paradise Lost, which tells the story of creation very
similar to what is written in the Holy Bible.
Like Adam I was apparently united by no link to any other being in
existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect.

He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and
prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to
converse with and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature, but
I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the
fitter emblem of my condition, for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss
of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me (Shelley 112).

He knows he has been cheated and once again compares himself to Adam. Accursed
creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?
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God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image, but my form is a
filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance (Shelley 112).

We cannot blame only the creatures creator. There is a saying that it takes a
village to raise a child, in this case it has taken a village to destroy a child and turn that
child into a monster. The first person he encounters after leaving the laboratory is a man
in a hut. He approaches this hut in search of food with no malice intended. He turned on
hearing a noise and, perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and, quitting the hut, ran… (Shelley
90). He then enters a village. …I had hardly placed my foot within the door, before the
children shrieked and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused. Some
fled, some attacked me (Shelley 91). He, of course, flees. Just as society fears the
creature, the creature fears society. The only difference is that the being has a reason to
fear society; it attacked him (Knorr 1/3). Even now, however, he is still a gentle and
loving being. When he happens upon the De Lacey family his faith in mankind is
somewhat renewed. When they [the cottagers] should become acquainted with my
admiration of their virtues, they would compassionate me, and overlook my personal
deformity (qtd. in Knorr 2/3). He sees them as superior beings , who would be the
arbiters of my future destiny and that he would win their favor, and afterwards their
love (Shelley 99). While he waits for the opportune time to display himself, he uses the
De Lacys to educate himself, learning to read and speak. He even helps the family by
supplying them with firewood so that Felix can spend more time with his family. When
he does finally reveal himself to the old blind man, and begins to get the acceptance he
deserves, he is attacked as Felix dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with a
stick. I could have torn him limb from limb, as the lion rends the antelope. But my heart
sunk within me as with bitter sickness and I refrained (Shelley 116). The being could
have killed Felix, with good reason, yet he did not. Even after all of this he is still good
and tries to rescue a child that is drowning. For the effort, he is shot. He was indeed a
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good and noble creature before his experiences with man. At this point, the being cannot
avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the being is punished for committing noble acts,
why should he continue to repeat them? (Knorr 2/3). He realizes that doing good is
causing him more pain and suffering than if he were to do evil. He questions the idea of
doing good when man is still going to reject and fear him. Because of his inability to
befriend man, at least by doing evil, the monster will be able to attain satisfaction by
destroying the one who has placed him in these unalterable circumstances. At least then
the monster will deserve his mistreatment (Knorr 2/3). Even after this he tries one more
time to befriend someone, a boy, since he figures the boy too young to have developed
prejudices. He tells the boy that he means no harm, yet the child yells Let me
go…Monster! Ugly Wretch! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre
(Shelley 122). Then he discovers the boy is a relation of his creator and he snaps. He
strangles the boy. Then he frames another for the murder and she too dies. He has become
what society has accused him of being all along. (Knorr 2/3). He does not want to be evil,
but as he says if I cannot inspire love , I will cause fear (Shelley 125) and if I have no
ties and affections, hatred and vice must be my portion (Shelley 126). It is his rejection
that has made him a monster, first by Frankenstein then by society. I am malicious
because I am miserable. Am I not shunned by mankind? (Shelley 125).

Some would disagree with my assessments that this creature was made a monster
by his creator and by society. Some would say that he was born evil. True, that would be
one theory. To those that believe that, however, I offer the tabula rasa or blank tablet
theory, John Lockes epistemological concept. According to Locke, all of our ideas are
derived from experience (qtd. in Solomon 153) and that man is neither innately good or
evil, but rather a blank slate upon which sensations create impressions which create
conscious experience (Natale 2/5). He learns, as an infant would, sensations such as
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heat, cold, hunger, light, and dark through experiencing them. He then learns to use them
to care for himself. These things were not implanted in him, rather he learned them
through experience (Natale 3/5). Initially, when he first encounters society, he is open to
the new experiences. Then he is treated with hatred and cruelty. Therefore, the hate and
cruelty that he bestows on mankind must have been learned.
This same concept is obvious in the film version called Mary Shelleys
Frankenstein. Other than that and a few other important similarities, the two are very
different. The film is directed by Kenneth Branaugh (who also plays Victor
Frankenstein)and it seems that Branaugh missed the depth of Shelleys story in his
depiction of the monster. It seemed that the Branaugh creature wasnt as conscious of his
abandonment as in the book (Wiebe np). The creature in the movie was more concerned
with the fact that he was created than the fact that he was abandoned, the main premise in
the book. The abandonment isnt as obvious in the movie since Frankenstein believes that
the creature dies in a cholera epidemic. Also in the movie, Frankenstein creates a mate for
the monster out of his murdered wife (who commits suicide), which is contradictory of
Frankensteins repulsion to creating another creature in the book (Wiebe np). There are
many other contradictions, such as the differences in the Clerval characters. In the book
Clerval is a friend he has known since childhood, but in the movie they meet at school,
which somehow diminishes the extent of their friendship. The inspiration of creating life
comes from a teacher in the movie, as well as the formulas to do so, but in the book
Victor is the only genius behind it. Elizabeths character is also quite different in the
movie, she is a stronger woman and tries to bring him home from school when she knows
he is up to something. The book has her sitting idly by waiting for his return with her only
fear being that he might want to marry someone else. I believe the main difference,
however, to be that the book is to make the reader care about the characters and apply
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what we learn from it to real life and the movie is more about violence and terror only to
frighten the viewer, but not to make him think (Wiebe np).
Without even taking the movie into consideration, if one reads the novel, one can
see that this creature was indeed an innocent victim. He was not violent when he was first
created, but after being neglected and rejected by his parent, Victor Frankenstein, being
abhorred by society, and being denied the one thing he truly wanted–a mate, this is when
he became a monster. He was but a blank tablet and the rest of the world is what turned
him bad. Most of the blame does belong with his creator, however, since he was the one
that was ultimately responsible for him. Frankenstein was playing God and a parent, and
he failed on both accounts. The creature was feared and loathed and thought of as a
monster, but I believe the true monster was his bad parent, Victor Frankenstein.


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