The Master and the Slave

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In Chapter 1 of Volume III, on pages 157 and 158, Victor refers to his predicament as his “slavery”. I already thought that was an interesting concept until, not accidentally, the creation later (when lamenting over Frankenstein’s body) refers to itself as a “slave, not the master” (p.222).

I realized Shelley was perhaps trying to say something here. So, I started thinking about how she framed the distinct parallels between the creator and the creation:

Victor

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A scientist haunted by a creature of his own design. He doesn’t understand what he has made, or the power he wields, and it is his downfall. A seemingly complex character, he is really quite shallow and one-dimensional; with all his good intentions, he does not think of the consequences of his actions (like just abandoning the creation OR like sending Elizabeth upstairs alone on their wedding night… HELLO?!). He expunges his energy into making the creature only to abandon it the moment the spark of life appears – realizing too late what he had done. The only attempt at civility with or understanding the creature is when it regales its side of the story – in a brief moment of clarity, even Victor realizes that what the creation asks for is not unreasonable. But certainly, after what had taken place at this point, it was normal for him to be suspicious. However, not taking responsibility for his actions ultimately leads to his entire bloodline being wiped out.

The creation

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Abandoned at birth for reasons it didn’t understand, it was forced to learn the ways of the world alone only to be shunned by humans. Upon hearing its side of the story in Volume II, the reader cannot help but to feel sympathetic for the creation (especially with the loss of the French family he had hoped to call friends). He is lonely, and there is not much else in the world that can make one more miserable. Its gruesome looks make it impossible for him to be near humanity and its superficiality. It realizes inner beauty is useless and that’s all it has. A mate, created equal, is its only hope. Think of the creation like a child; in the simplest terms, he threw a tantrum when Victor destroys the second creation and exacts un-ending revenge until Frankenstein’s demise.

 The Second Creation (Hypothetically)

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It was never brought up verbally whether or not the second creation would even have reacted favorably to the union. Frankenstein surmises briefly at what her reaction might be at the beginning of Chapter 3, Volume 3. I think it could have been a real argument for Victor not to make it; the creature, unless angry, seems reasonable. If the second creation had come into existence, a whole other dynamic of master and slave could arguably be drawn. The second creation would be a slave to the first – existing only to satiate his needs. The possibility of ever separating from him seems low.  If it were to be created the same as the first, would it not have consciousness and the ability to think for itself? What if it did not want that? What if, being equally miserable, it asked Victor for the same thing, being unhappy with the first creation? The creature would have most certainly reacted unfavorably to this outcome and then where would Victor be? To me, this was a realistic cyclical possibility that was only briefly addressed.

VFC

Once the master creator, Frankenstein now sees the creation as his master, forcing him into making a mate; Interestingly, the creature always sees Victor as his master, the only one capable of making him happy. They depend on each other but are fueled by too many emotions and too much misery to see it.

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