Father-Son Relationships in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

Relationships between Victor Frankenstein and his creation, the Monster, is the main theme of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein”. In some way, since Victor creates the Monster, the interaction between these two main characters can resemble relationships between father and son. In order to evaluate and comment on this particular element of the story, Victor’s conflict with the Monster will be discussed. Victor acts and appears not only as a father but as a divine figure of creator whose patriarchic authority over his creation (the Monster) not only resembles father-son relationships but even exaggerates it to an extreme limit due to the fact that Victor considers that the Monster belongs to him and not to itself.

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The two main characters (Victor and the Monster) have different agendas and missions in the novel. The conflict appears because each character’s aims contradict each others. The Monster wants to be; more than anything, he wants to live a simple life that people live. It is true that the Monster also wants a woman to be with. However, even without a woman, he is constantly being reminded that his life does not belong to him. On the other hand, Victor creates life but fails to control it as life cannot be controlled by someone or something other than those to whom this life belongs. Victor first wants to control the Monster and then unable to control it. He wants it to disappear (Shelley, 93). Victor aims to own the life of another being. This only shows that despite his huge achievement (creation of life), Victor cannot admit that the life he created is 100% real as it has feelings, desires, and purely humane intentions (love, live, be at peace). Therefore, Victor makes life, but because it is real life, he cannot control it and unable to recognize his inability to control the Monster.

Victor appears not only as a father but as a patriarch who wants to play a divine role. Victor refuses to let the Monster live his own life because he thinks he owns it. On the other side, the Monster constantly reminds Victor that his life belongs to him no matter who is his creator and what his intentions are (Shelley, 126).

The Monster, at some points, acts like a child. His hatred towards his creator resembles the kind of hatred that sons feel towards their fathers. For example, the Monster’s woman is given and taken away by Victor. At times the novel was written and published, the authority of parents over their children was enormous. Fathers decided whom their sons needed to marry, picked careers for their children, and controlled their lives in other different ways. Victor does the same, and the Monster rebels against the same kind of control. The Monster, feeling like an adult, tries to break his dependence on Victor. He wants to be free and have complete authority over his life (Bloom, 44). Victor is not willing to admit such intentions of his creation. Victor acts like he knows best what the Monster wants and needs (approach of a father). This conflict is the most important part of the confrontation between the Monster and Victor.

Family clashes and confrontation between the relatives are traditionally not any less violent or bloodier than the rest of the conflicts. History shows that mothers can kill their children, and kids, in their turn, can kill their parents. Therefore, Victor’s conflict with the Monster is tremendously harsh and stressful because of the father-son connection between him and the Monster. This conflict reassures Victor that he created not a man but a monster that must be killed if he cannot be controlled.

Victor’s relationship with his father also illustrates a famous proverb “like father like son”. Victor becomes a ruthless scientist as a cause of his confrontation with Alphonse Frankenstein, his truly loving and caring parent. However, Alphonse does not approve of Victor’s interest in alchemy and perhaps even predicts Victor’s troubles caused by his experiments (Essaka, 71). Therefore, even though Victor’s father is an exceptional parent, Victor still is not pleased with him entirely. Alphonse also is not pleased even though Victor is an exceptional student and has real ambitions. The difference in opinions most probably causes Victor to begin his “scientific” quest as though to rebut his father’s claims. This is the exact thing that the Monster does as well. The Monster seeks to refute Victor’s claim regarding the Monster’s ownership of himself. Therefore, the conflict between Victor and the Monster resembles Victor’s conflict with his father.

All in all, the relationship between Victor and the Monster resembles father-son relationships. However, Victor goes further and plays the role of God as he attempts to own the Monster completely despite the fact that the Monster being truly alive belongs (or wants to belong) only to himself. This conflict happens due to the fact that Victor himself has “daddy issues” and also because the Monster attacks Victor defending himself and by that establishes his own authority.

 

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Chicago: Infobase Learning, 2013.

Essaka, Joshua. Mary Shelley: “Frankenstein”. Boston: Humanities-Ebooks, 2008.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Penguin, 2014.