Surprisingly, after the monster had an opportunity to explain itself to Victor, the reader is able to see that it has a compassionate and even gentle character. The creature gradually captivates the audience. It helps a family of poor farmers, helping them with their supply for the winter and learning from observing them. Yet, the farmers rejected him because of his ugliness and strange look. They prejudged him based on his appearance, which makes the reader both now and in 1818 sympathizes with the creature, and feel remorse for misjudging him by thinking it was evil and terrifying. Appearance is still relevant in today’s society, maybe even more than it was in 1818. We are bombarded by magazines, television and films with the ‘perfect’ image of men and women. They try to persuade us that this is how we should look, and anything different from that is ugly. Plastic surgery is one of the most growing businesses in the world – people try to change how they look so they can ‘fit in’. We are obsessed by beauty.
Morality was also one of Frankenstein’s themes that was relevant in 1818 and is still relevant today. A question raised in the novel is whether human beings should play God. Victor says “It was the secrets of heaven and earth I desired to learn”. It is not arguable if we might be able to create life but if we should do it. The knowledge he acquired is described by Shelley as something divine and from God, inferring that he went too far, and there are things that should not be undertaken by humans. Victor warns: ‘You seek for knowledge as I once did… you are pursuing the same course…exposing yourself to the same dangers [perhaps] you can deduce an apt moral from my tale’.
1818 society might not have worried so much about his warning because this was only fiction at the time; however, today creating artificial life in laboratory is possible. For instance, On May 2010, the biologist Craig Venter created the first man-made cell. Also, parents can choose characteristics of their offspring, like eye or hair colour, by genetic engineering. This can be considered by some as artificial creation since the baby’s characteristics are chosen, and not what they would naturally be. Additionally, is also possible to implant someone’s organ in a different person, not as different as how Victor has created the monster. These show that science developments are getting closer to create complex synthetic organisms, which increase the chances of Frankenstein going from fiction to reality. Have scientists carefully analysed all the implications and consequences of creating artificial life and manipulating human bodies?
The novel also provokes dubious feelings, and refers to an obsession about the evil side of human nature. Victor and his creature both could be seen as the darker side of human nature, which constantly change the boundaries between evil and good. This makes the reader confused and unable to decide who the villain of the story actually is. In my opinion, Victor is the true monster and he cannot blame his creation because no one is born evil.
However, I do not believe that was his intention. His first motivations were pure as he only wanted to see his mother again. Although his intentions were good, he was taken by obsession which led him to not think clearly, which caused him not to analyse what exactly he was doing. This shows that even the most innocent and positive attempts can lead to a disaster, which can be frightening both now and in 1818.
In my opinion, Frankenstein is still relevant and terrifying in 2011 as it was in 1818. Gothic techniques and imagery, like abominable and dead appearance combined with a tense atmosphere, manipulate the reader to fell terrified and scared. Obsession showed in the novel can also be frightening, because it shows the dark side of human nature and drive unexpected behaviour, which most of us consider quite scary. Love, affection and sadness of losing someone we love and the possibility of bringing this person back to life is still relevant. Furthermore, it raises questions about morality (the right of humanity to play God) and appearance (someone that is physically different is still misjudged and discriminated), two aspects that are still relevant to our society as they were in 1818.