For me personally, the idea of monstrosity in Frankenstein is something I find particularly interesting. What makes something or someone a monster? How does the novel portray monstrosity, and what is at stake in its interpretation? In lecture we talked briefly about the creature being “monstrous” in the sense that it reveals the inner machinery of our physical bodies – watery eyes, barely concealed arteries etc. – creating a sort of excess sense of life that evokes terror. But more interestingly, we discussed a bit about the monster’s freakish strength and intelligence, and the prodigal traits that distance it from human beings and isolate it from society.
I would like to posit that the novel focuses on alienation as the key element for monstrosity, and that it explores this notion through examining Victor’s self-imposed exclusion and the way he arguably becomes just as “monstrous” as his creation. We can think of the term “monster” as describing something that is inhuman. So monstrosity can include estrangement – Humans are meant to be social creatures, and so isolation is an “inhuman” – or a lack of a human code of morality.
Even from the start of the novel, there are many instances when Victor appears to be just as much of an outcast as the creature – the difference being that his isolation is often self-imposed, whereas the creature cannot control its estrangement. When Victor struggles to animate the creature, he essentially shuts himself from the world for years as “winter, spring, and summer, passed away” and he “did not watch the blossom or the expanding leaves” (Shelley, 82). His body also physically deteriorates, growing “pale with study” and “emaciated with confinement” (Shelley, 81).
Fast forward to chapter VII, and Victor seems to have become completed detached from humanity, wandering in “deserts and barbarous countries,” with “failing limbs,” driven by revenge that made him “calculating and calm, at periods when otherwise delirium or death would have been (his) portion” (Shelley, 202). Victor’s estrangement and his subsequent abandonment of human morality – he embraces his capacity to commit murder – arguably make him almost just as much of a “monster” as his creation.
So that’s a perspective on monstrosity that I think could be explored more. To what extent can we see Victor develop “monstrous” elements, and how does his “monstrosity” contrast to that of the creatures? Is there anyway to overcome monstrosity, or is it something that is inherent in all of us that only manifests itself when triggered by certain circumstances?”