Many of these do not follow the storyline of the book exactly and often portray the monster as a savage beast who has no self-control, knowledge, understanding and, most of all, feelings. Mary Shelley rewrote her first edition in 1831. This volume is more conservative and does not shock the reader as much as the first edition did. It portrays Victor more sympathetically and the monster more intellectually gifted than the first version. Mary Shelley illustrates many opposites in this novel: good and evil; creator and creature; monstrous and human.
But the theme I will be looking at in detail is villain and victim, which relates to the original question of who is the real monster or villain. The dictionary defines a monster as an Inhumanly wicked or cruel person; A misshapen animal; A large, hideous animal or thing. This definition seems to imply that the exterior reflects the interior, or that a frightening external appearance conceals a wicked character. The creature in this novel has the notorious reputation for being the monster, but is this really justified? The first key passage describes the creation of the monster.
Shelley builds up atmosphere at the start of the chapter by her description of the weather and surroundings, It was on a dreary night of November. This contrasts with Victors anticipation. He has been waiting his entire life for a chance to create life and now his workings reach a climax. This part of the novel is also a climax for the reader. But once Victor has seen the creature he has created, he is flooded with a huge feeling of anti-climax. The creature repulses Victor on sight. He refers to the creature harshly as the wretch and is completely horrified by the thing he has just given life to.
This shows that Victor is only concerned with physical appearance. This is the same as when he was studying at the university in Ingolstadt. He was so disgusted with the appearance of his tutor M. Krempe that he delayed going to his first lecture for a few weeks until he was sure that another tutor was giving the lecture. This shows intolerance of imperfection and a flaw in Victors character. Shelley advances a criticism of intolerant and superficial societies that place emphasis on appearance. Victor rejects his creation.
This is like a father rejecting his child. He had to initially resort to grave robbing to obtain the material needed to create his creature. Perhaps, when the creature came to life, Victor realised the enormity of the monstrous deeds he had committed. This passage shows Victor to be a monster, as he does not even try to understand the creatures cries for help. He has forsaken any duties he is expected to perform as a father. When the creature awoke from his sleep he convulsed. When Victor awakes from his sleep, all his muscles convulse also.
These could be the first signs that the creature is the other side of Victor, the side that does all the things he cannot bring himself to do. When Victor sleeps, he has a dream. This dream could be seen as prophetic. Maybe Victor is associating the birth of the creature with the death of Elizabeth. Shelleys description of the monster is full of pathos. The first things that the creature wants are contact and affection, as any newborn thing wants, but his creator or father, Victor, denies him this. When Victor awakes from his dream, he finds the creature standing nearby, reaching out a hand towards him.
Victor rejects this appeal for help and recognition. This passage may parody The Creation of Man by Michelangelo, which is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It shows God stretching out his hand to give life to Adam. The analogy of this is that Victor is playing God and the creature is Adam. Another parody is the story of Prometheus who stole fire from the Gods and gave it to the people on earth. Victor has stolen the power of life from the Gods and given it to the people. This is why the books title has the subtitle The Modern Prometheus.