Frankenstein By Mary Shelley: Narcissistic Views
Mary Shelley’s epistolary novel Frankenstein is still one of the most prominent and exemplary pieces of Romantic literature in the 20th century. The idiosyncrasies within the structure, its obscure origin and plot, the time it was written and the fact that it was a novel supported by Romantics but, also because it exploits the true characteristics Romantics portrayed. One feature that is clearly on display is narcissism, which is a trait that can easily be identified in Frankenstein as consequences and other negative outcomes resulted from the actions of arrogance and self-centered complex. Throughout the novel of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley portrays evidence of narcissism and self alore in characters who also coincidentally portray potential Romantic traits. In Frankenstein, Shelley is criticizing narcissism. One character who has portrayed traits of this behavior is Victor Frankenstein; due to neglect, and a want for overachievement, Victor is blinded by the success of himself rather than the effects on others. Victor Frankenstein does not really accept responsibility for the wrongs he commits on society at large and his thirst for education and indulged in the impossibilities adds fuel to his narcissism and shows signs of being conceited and self-righteous. Secure in his confidence in himself, he ventures upon a task no man has ever done before. One example of his he comes up with the idea of creating life out of inanimate matter. This egoistic behavior is an indication towards narcissism by his extreme self-absorption which leads to harm to him and his family.
One of the ways the ways in which Shelley is criticizes narcissism is by showing how it may lead to becoming a perfectionist. In a quest to overreach, Victor finally succeeds with his task of giving life to inanimate matter. “- a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised, that among so many men of genius who had directed their enquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret” (Shelley 41). Consequently, his overreaching complex results in also blinding him as he has not spent any time to process or think about what would happen if the creature came to life. He is driven by the acknowledgment that would come to him from creating life. This need of admiration from others is also a symptom of vanity in Victor. Surprisingly, when his dream he finally accomplishes his goal of creating life, he is instead absorbed by dissatisfaction and defeated. “I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley 45). He runs out of the room and away from the apartment trying to deny the creature inside it. Later when Victor returns to the apartment again, the place is empty. Not able to grasp the dreadful thought of a monster-like creature walking the streets, instead he is joyful “I clapped my hands for joy” (48). He felt relieved when he realized the monster was no longer his responsibility but never took into consideration the effect he would have on others or the harm he would do.
One way the ways in which Shelley is criticizes narcissism is by showing how these narcissistic features make him incapable of noticing the potential dangers that may threaten his family. Not even when his brother William is murdered, does he take the necessary steps as a brother to move forward, instead he travels and procrastinates getting back home. All because Victor fears what might happen to him, if the monster finds him. When Justine, a close friend of the family, is wrongly accused of murdering William, Victors does not tell the truth even though he knows who is wrongful for his brothers death. Unfortunately, he is unable to reveal the secret about the creature for fear of his own life. His egoistic behavior led to the execution of Justine.
Another way in which Shelley is criticizes narcissism is portraying how it often leads to vulnerability. Initially, Victor contemplates and then agrees to create a female companion. This could have been a time for Victor to think about all the externalities that would be bestowed on society. Unfortunately, instead this remorse is quickly replaced by disgust by the thought of another abomination on earth.Therefore, he breaks his promise and discontinues making the female companion. When the creature finds out, it threatens Victor and swears that it will be present on his wedding night. Victor remains focused on himself again as the wedding day approaches and still he stays silent. On the day of the wedding, terrified of being killed, Victor arms himself with pistols and a dagger. . In reality, if a groom new him or his spouse was in danger, he could have taken the proper precautions. However, he does not even consider that Elizabeth, his bride, might be in danger. Victor does not unveil his fears to Elizabeth. He leaves her alone: prepared to battle for his life with the result that the bride is murdered on their honeymoon bed. “when suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It came from the room into which Elizabeth had retired. As I heard it, the whole truth rushed into my mind, my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins, and tingling in the extremities of my limbs. This state lasted but for an instant; the scream was repeated, and I rushed into the room.’ (Shelley 145). His own fears and needs again make him abandon people who have significant connections with Victor. His inability to contradictory feelings inside makes it impossible for him to process, let alone heal. This constant battle against death and suppressed pain keeps him from fully living and loving. Victor then is absorbed by this tragic moment and looks for revenge. He becomes so fixated on killing the creature that he believes his dead family members have returned to support him in his murderous quest: “the spirits of the dead hovered round, and instigated me to toil and revenge” (Shelley 158). He is consumed by the thought of destroying the creature, which makes him lose his grip on reality: “I have traversed a vast portion of the earth, and have endured all the hardships which travelers, in deserts and barbarous countries, are wont to meet. How I have lived I hardly know; many times have I stretched my failing limbs upon the sandy plain and prayed for death. But revenge kept me alive; I dared not die and leave my adversary in being”. (Shelley 154). This whole time Victor is looking for someone to blame when ironically, Victor never takes any responsibility for what has happened, even though he could have prevented it. He is never willing or capable to see his own interference and guilt. Instead of looking within to see his own part of the problem, he projects his anger onto the creature or onto others and mechanism for fight or flight. For Victor, this denial makes him seem like a victim when he is not.
This essay has Mary Sheley confronts the narcissistic views of overreaching and acceptance Frankenstein and how it results in impetuousness. Victor Frankenstein denies himself any wrongful doing as he perceived to be the perfect son, his struggle to suppress hurtful feelings of grief makes him run away instead of confronting the pain. These attributes have allowed him to excuse his impulsive and neglectful behavior. No matter how he looks at the creature, he believes in appearance over personality. This attempt to hide everything on the inside finally explodes into the monster. The shock is too much for Victor, who flees in fear and disgust. Repeatedly the same cycle is used as Victors coping mechanism, when emotions are overwhelming, he runs away, unable to deal with them. His masterpiece, which was expected to bring him respect and fame, instead becomes his biggest failure. Victor’s ways of suppressing his emotions, instead of acknowledging its existence, have made him too, a monster. In his narcissistic self-centered world there is no place for anyone else but himself. He betrays his child, the creature, right from the start, because he fails to become a role model or parental figure. Instead he tries to deny its existence. I believe all of Victor’s suppressed feelings can be manifested through the creature. Together they sort of need each other, because all the creature knows is Victor and all the focus on the Creature is coming from Victor. The self absorption of oneself blinds him from the world.