Frankenstein may be familiar to people as the name of a monster; however, it is not the name of the monster that most are thinking of. In actuality, Victor Frankenstein is the creator of this infamous creature and his creation is nameless. Despite being called negative terms such as, “devil”, “creature”, “wretch”, and “thing”, the monster is never given an actual name by his creator, Frankenstein, or the author, Mary Shelley.
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Shelley, who is no stranger to keeping things nameless— She published Frankenstein anonymously and didn’t name her first child, as well as said “This nameless mode of naming the unnameable is rather good” (Lepore, 2018)— did this with a purpose. By not giving the creature a name, Shelley renders significance on the humanity of Frankenstein’s creation and emphasis on the creature’s existence, it’s relationship with its creator and the true character of Frankenstein.
To elaborate on the creature’s humanity, not receiving a name keeps the readers and it’s creator referring to the creature as an “it”. Being identified as an “it” deprives the creature of human qualities, making it seem less than human and unworthy of the reader’s sympathy. This creates an idea in the reader’s mind that the monster was truly a monster, that it was a stone cold killer, that it had no feelings when it committed the crimes, that it is not capable of feeling any emotion, and didn’t have a justifiable reason for doing the things it did. Being nameless and perceived as something less than that of a human served as a ruse to make the readers believe that it was the bad guy or antagonist in the story and used to keep the notion that it was some repulsive beast, like what Frankenstein sees him as. Names give humans a sense of identity. The creature not having a name to go by and constantly being called a demon or monster made it feel like an outsider in society. It remained as something to be feared and not loved. Viewing the creature in this manner, the reader will feel that Victor’s reason for wanting it dead was rational, until they learn that, despite not having a name and being seen as a fiend by its creator, the creature was very much human; he had a heart and wanted to be loved, while the real monster was Victor Frankenstein.
In addition, Frankenstein plays the role of God, the creator of life and human beings. The difference between the two was that God loved his creations and gave them a name. In religion, God is considered as the father of his creations, but Victor was no father to his. Naming a child serves to create a special bond, because of the thought, effort, and love being put into finding the perfect name for them. Having a name gives a person a sense of identity, a place in society, and a sense of belongingness, all of which the creature didn’t feel. Even naming a pet makes the relationship more personal, as it gives a feeling that the pet belongs to the person and gives them a name to answer to. In this case, the creature remains nameless throughout the book because Victor didn’t want the creature to belong to him. He doesn’t want to believe that he made such an abhorrent being and naming it would establish a connection between the two and meant that as the creator, Victor has a responsibility towards it and its actions. Unlike other parents putting thought into their children’s names because they love them, Victor was disgusted by his creation. This can show the lack of love Frankenstein had towards his creation, which in turn reveals the creature’s feeling of not being wanted. Victor wasn’t proud of his creation and didn’t want to be associated with it hence, rejecting it and not caring about it enough to give it a name. Calling it “wretch” and “daemon” could also signify how Frankenstein believed it deserved to only be called demeaning terms and not a proper name because he viewed it as an evil being.
To expand on Frankenstein not wanting and caring for his creation, the creature felt that he was “an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (Shelley 185). Like a baby before getting an abortion, the creature wasn’t able to fully develop and live, giving way to another reason for Frankenstein not naming the creature. The creature didn’t receive a name because after sparking life into it, Frankenstein realized that creating it was a mistake. Abortion and its process is used as a metaphor to symbolize that this creature’s existence was a life that it’s creator wished to have never existed. Despite being very much alive, its parent or creator planned to kill it and cease the very small life it lived. He desired to pretend that this creature never even drew breath. Frankenstein didn’t care for the creature from the beginning, so he felt no need to name something that wasn’t meant to live.
The last possible reason the creature wasn’t named was because whether the creature had a name or not, it would still be viewed at as a monster due to its appearance. The characters in the story would encounter the creature and still fear or reject it— Agatha fainted upon seeing it and Felix struck it violently with a stick (Shelley 114)— despite having a name or not because the name wouldn’t have changed the initial reactions these people would have upon seeing, what they believe to be, the monstrous beast.
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