Stereotypes are a by-product of our tendencies to try to group ourselves into different categories, typically based on certain recognizable features that are generally associated towards a person/group. Perceptions, either positive or negative, result from such features, and in Frankenstein, it is the Creature’s outward physical appearance which is his most prominent feature. His revolting appearance, which fosters negative perceptions and stereotypes, bars him from being accepted by anyone, including I the reader, but a humanizing conversation with his creator changes my perception of him completely.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always assumed several things regarding this novel; one of which was that the Creature had a name and it was Frankenstein and another being that the Creature was ugly, evil, and monstrous. Pop culture (hello, Halloween season!) has infused within me the typical routine stereotypes regarding the Creature, which made him pretty one-dimensional to me, due to a lack of any deeper insight into his true personality. Well, regardless of such insight, the Creature is horrifyingly hideous, with its “yellow skin [which] scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath [as well as] his shriveled complexion and straight black lips” (Shelley 60). The sheer ugliness causes Victor to immediately form a strongly negative perception of the Creature as one to be fearful of, and the stereotype that he is a potential killing machine grips Victor. In fact, after he finds out that William was murdered, he comes across the Creature lurking in the area very close to where the murder took place. Victor’s stereotype towards the Creature is instantly validated, even without the presence of any hard proof.

In Victor’s mind, the Creature is devoid of emotion and any semblance of humanity, and is continually focused on wreaking havoc and horror. This dehumanization sprang forth through the initial perceptions that Victor developed based on the Creature’s outward physical appearance, but the Creature eventually has a powerful conversation with Victor that displays the former’s humanity and makes the latter look cold and unfeeling. The Creature confides to Victor that he is miserable due to his isolation and that, at the very least, all he wants is acceptance from Victor, his creator. Still stuck on his firmly ingrained stereotype, Victor rejects the Creature several times while the Creature never gets violent nor develops a temper of any sort; rather, it is Victor who gets livid and threatens violence towards his creation. Perception, as evidenced by the above scene in the novel, does not always equal reality, and the stereotypes that result from certain perceptions can be downright inaccurate, hurtful and harmful. I really felt bad for the Creature during his conversation with his creator and my views on him changed in a heartbeat. Despite his repulsive appearance, captured effectively (yet stereotypically) by this picture:

Boris Karloff Frankenstein (1931)

A true reflection of the kind of danger the Creature really poses is likely pictured here:

The above picture is the Creature in doll form. Here, while it still looks hideous, it is reduced to a minor, harmless (minus the arms and legs on its feet) little plaything. It is obviously someone’s creation and its outstretched arms can be symbolic of a desire to be accepted. This desire, which was clearly articulated by the Creature in the novel, displayed a very human side of him that I never thought existed due to prior stereotypes.

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