Remember that I am thy creature . . . whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss from which I alone am irrevocably ex- cluded. I was benevolent and good. Misery made me a fiend!
The Being begsVictor to create a female partner for it.Victor agrees, but reneges after realizing that the pair could spawn “a race of devils,” and destroys the female he had begun to build. In despair, the Being kills bothVictor’s new bride, and his lifelong friend.Victor pursues his creation, but dies before he can destroy the Being.The creature, how- ever, has resolved in any case to end its miseries: “I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly,” it says at the end of the book,“and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. . . . Farewell.”
Some critics take issue with the quality of Shelley’s writing in Frankenstein, partly because it expresses many elements in a way that is not fully integrated.The rich mixture touches on loneliness and alien- ation; family, sexual, and reproductive issues; the defeat of death; and ambiguity about scientific knowledge.Yet these layers of meaning are the reason Victor Frankenstein’s creature still lives, because the book gives a multitude of insights into the meaning of artificial beings, including the perception of them as mirrors in which we see our- selves. That is more than a literary conceit: it determines how we define and construct the spiritual and moral aspects of a created being.
Contemporary psychologists, observing the Being as they would a normal human, might conclude that the Being’s lack of parental guidance seriously affected its development and outlook.The Being itself believes this, telling Victor “No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses. . . .” This image of a creature who is brought to life, but who cannot grow into full personhood, might owe something to Mary Shelley’s own loss of an infant daughter. But the weight of the Being’s alienation goes be- yond any personal meaning for her. It introduces a theme that reap- pears time and again in the virtual history of artificial creatures: their longing to join the human race.
Another theme in Frankenstein that recurs elsewhere in the virtual history is the tension between the prideful recognition that science can create life, and fear that this is sheer hubris that will eventually be