Lightning strikes the top of a tall dark tower, and within the monstrous creature opens its eyes. The creator cackles and eagerly approaches. Of course, the creature escapes and demolishes a city. By the time I began reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I had all but relinquished these faulty images. The thing I still could not expect, however, was that the creature would go on to, y’know, kill the scientist’s whole family.

Now, I do not seek to defend Victor Frankenstein’s many character flaws (his egotism, his aversion to taking responsibility) and I recognize that narrator bias deserves major consideration. However, I cannot help but feel for Victor because I cannot imagine behaving any better.

Far from a scientist bent on world conquest, Victor is a bright and promising college student who wants to “pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation” (Shelley 53). Sure, the language is somewhat dramatic, but this doesn’t sound far off from the pursuit of anyone interested in the sciences.

Unfortunately, his creature looks repulsive, and for Victor, “breathless horror and disgust filled [his] heart” (61). (Couldn’t he see how hideous this creature was before he brought it to life? But I digress.) For his lack of caring (but not only that), death upon death upon death ensues in Victor’s life. Like him or not, the suffering this young man endures is brutal.

Yes, the Victor Frankenstein I know may certainly have unkempt hair and a wild look in his eyes, but more than that he is a brokenhearted man sickened by his own foolish actions. He tells Walton, “I — I have lost every thing, and cannot begin life anew” (38). And this, at least, I believe.

(Interestingly enough, the image above is not of Victor at all but Frederick Frankenstein, Victor’s grandson in the 1974 comedy Young Frankenstein. Off on so many levels.)