Responsibility For Actions and Inaction

Posted on September 8, 2011 by Tiffany KW.
Categories: Uncategorized.

Talking about the binaries of Frankenstein in class on Tuesday really got me thinking about the power/responsibility struggles (maybe not a true binary) in the book so far.   I’ll seize the easy example and talk about Victor using the power of science to create a… being made up of deceased human body parts, yet refusing to take responsibility for it after it came to life.  Later in the book, the monster demonstrates astounding verbal communication skills and seems educated in human history, and even poetry and languages.  The monster’s elegant narration of the events in his life thus far may be read as commentary on Victor’s choice.  It is possible that if he had taken the time and effort to care for the monster, Frankenstein’s creation might not have run amok.  Clearly, great pains are taken to show that the monster is capable of being educated, and very well.  A touch of horror accompanies this revelation; if the monster is capable of being taught, then Victor’s choice to abandon him out of fear is the event that truly led up to the deaths in his family.  The monster’s nature might have been altered, had Victor taken the time and effort to learn something about the monster’s capabilities before running away.  I’m curious as to whether or not an alternative Frankenstein has ever been written.  One in which the monster is cared for by Victor and becomes proof of the boundless abilities of science.  Instead, the readers are exposed (maybe for the first time, originally) to a cautionary tale that recommends leaving well enough alone.  And after the science fiction I’ve read, I’d have to agree.

1 comment.

Comment on September 8th, 2011.

Your question of “whether or not an alternative Frankenstein has ever been written” is an interesting thought experiment. I was about to say that no, it’s never been done. But then I realized this is exactly what Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is about. Interesting that only a parody has seemed to consider your question. This suggests that satire can approach topics that other narrative forms can’t, and it also makes me wonder if Brooks’ movie is in fact more serious that most people give it credit for.


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