Physical Appearance in Frankenstein
The main theme in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the importance of appearance which correlates to the idea of acceptance in modern society. Today’s society, as well as in the society of Frankenstein, people judge one often solely on their looks. Social prejudice is often based on looks, whether it be the pigments that make up someone’s skin color, the facial features that one has and the clothes that a person wears.
Society makes rapid judgments based on these and other considerations and they affect the way people treat someone. In Frankenstein, the society of that time is much like our own today. It is an appearance-based society, and this is why the extreme ugliness of Victor Frankenstein’s creature is very alarming to the characters in the book. One of the parallels in today’s society and Frankenstein is that of racism and discrimination. These parallels from both today’s society and Frankenstein are shown from the very first moments of Frankenstein’s creature point of view in life.
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The very first thing Victor observes about his newly alive creation is that His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; (Ch.5 2) and he viewed his creation with breathless horror and disgust (Ch.5 3). Here we find out that Victor notices the color of his creatures skin first and judges it to be horrible unlike what he believed would turn out to be as beautiful. This proves that Victor did not purposely intend to make his creation such a breathless horror and disgust
Throughout the novel, the monster is tormented for his looks, but no one takes the time to get to know him as a person. The monster is so hideous even when he does good deeds he is still looked at as evil, This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human the creature remarks as he is Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind. But the agony of my wound overcame me; my pulses paused, and I fainted (Ch.16 20). The creature was just walking and notices a girl and she falls in the river, the monster jumps in and saves her and a man comes up and grabs the girl then shoots the creature. The man that shot him judged the monster by his looks and automatically looked at him as evil. This is how his good deed is repaid. The monster meant no harm he just wanted to help. From this point on in the novel, the monster is seeking revenge on humans for what they bring him solely pain to his heart.
During this point of the book, the creature is seeking revenge on Frankenstein for abandoning him at his apartment. The creature threatened that he will be there on Victor’s wedding night. As the day of the wedding started to get closer Victor started to go out with Elizabeth more and think about the monster a little less due to their love but always having the creature haunting him in the back of his head. Victor’s father started to notice him becoming a less more like his prior self before the creature. I am happy to remark, my dear son, that you have resumed your former pleasures and seem to be returning to yourself. And yet you are still unhappy and still avoid our society. (Ch.18 3) Victor is being seen as unhappy but returning to who used to be but he still avoids to be a part of his society. His family and friends do not think he is happy due to the way he had left and not written back to his family or friends. Due to this Victor is worried that people with discovering about the creature he had created while away. People are always being judged or appear to feel a certain way and they are treated differently.
In Walton’s case, he is looking for acceptance in society such similar toward’s Victor’s life both came from wealthy families and both looking for a way to be recognized other than appearing as a man who was given all of his wealth by his family. Victor’s way is to be the first to create life from the dead and Walton’s is to be the first to find unknown territory through the north polar. I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle; I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. (Letter 1 p.2) Essentially, Walton wants to see a place no other man has ever seen. On top of that, not only does he want to see an unexplored area but to be the first one to place a footprint upon a never before touched place. Outside of that, Walton knows that his travels could result in a new path which other travelers and shippers could use. In the end, Walton is simply seeking personal and historical known for doing/finding something which no others have ever found before. In summary, Walton desires to take this trip in order to show his father and uncle, as well as himself, that he can do something of worth and importance to the world. He can discover new things and learn new information to share with others. His self-image and his persona to others will undertake a transformation, should he return alive and successful.
In conclusion, the idea of wanting to be accepted and how appearances affect the way you are perceived/accepted in society in the book and modern real-world society are really similar due to the fact that we have three important characters from the book the creature, Victor, and Walton looking to be accepted in their society by searching for a purpose Victor by creating life out of death by being renown and accepted by society for being, Walton by searching for a shortcut passage through the north pole also by being renown and accepted in society, and the creature by trying to find a family where he is accepted without being judged on his appearance.