How is Monstrosity Represented in Mary Shelley’s Novel, Frankenstein?


Monstrosity simply is defined as an object of great and often frightening size, force, or complexity. However, monstrosity can also be represented by one’s qualities, characteristics, and actions. Throughout Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, monstrosity is a prominent theme that greatly affects both Victor and his monster. Judging from the way the author portrays a monster, it is clearly evident, that a monster is a frightening object, which is completely different from human beings, and it is also more powerful. The author portrays Victor, and the monster as two characters who have similar characteristics which may frighten human beings. In addition, through vivid description, the author manages to show the evil side of Victor and the monster. Victor is consequently similar to the monster, in the sense that they have similar character traits, which include unnatural, hostility, and selfish. This makes his family members to be disconnected from him. Due to that reason, this paper will consequently analyze the representation of Monstrosity in the novel.

Monstrosity of Victor

Victor is a monster, in the sense that he exhibits characteristics which define a monster. Among these characteristics include the following: unnatural, hostility, and selfish. Victor feels he misses something, a factor which makes him to create a creature which can be an answer to whatever he misses. Through his monstrous behavior he creates a creature which has a yellow skin and is barely covered the work of muscles, and the arteries. The beings hair is lustrous black, with pearl white teeth and however, this opulence’s only created a more despicable contrast with his watery eyes, and straight black lips. Similarly, through what he says, it is clearly evident that Victor is monstrous. For instance, he speaks of how he could have with pleasure, destroyed the cottage together with its inhabitants, “Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitant and have glutted myself… (Shelley, 26).” This quote explains how inhuman and hostile Victor is, to the point whereby he wishes he could have destroyed the cottage with inhabitants in it. Similarly, Victor is hostile towards others, a trait which monsters possess. He is hostile toward the being which he created making him abandon the creature, after realizing that he could not endure the aspect of the creature he had created. Finally, he is selfish in the sense that he creates a being, in order to gain fame, he does not therefore care about others, how they feel, and how they think, and he is merely concerned with his own fame.

Monstrosity of the Monster

The monster is monstrous through the way he has been created. As a matter of fact, his looks are frightening, to the point whereby he frightens Victor, who was his actual creator. He had yellow skin, which barely covered the exertion of muscles and arteries beneath. From this description, it is obvious, that the monster was frightening, with its outer look which appeared as an evil being which can only be compared to a devil. In addition, it is not only Victor who is frightened of the monster, because the gentle family which he had been spying on in the forest are frightened immediately after seeing the monster. Immediately Agatha sees the creature, she faints, whereas Felix who is also terrified beats the monster with a stick. On the other hand, Walton, who knows the story behind the monster, cannot be able to deal with the situation when he sees the monster, “Never did I behold a vision so horrible as his face, I shut my eyes involuntarily, (Shelley, 226)” said Victor. This therefore explains how frightening the creature was, to the point of terrifying anyone who laid eyes on him. The monster was basically monstrous, from the look of his face, the way he had been created, suggested more, about the monstrosity of the creature. The author has therefore been able to portray how monstrous the monster is to the readers, through showing how his body looked like, thus frightening anyone who came across the monster, including Victor who took part in creating the monster. Finally, through the way the monster behaves, to the point of killing William, it becomes apparent, that the creature Victor created was actually a monster, since monsters do not relate well with people, thus, he ended up killing William, because he does not see the value of human life.

Juxtaposition of Victor and the Monster’s monstrosity.

Victor and the monster are related in the sense that they have similar characteristics. Just as Victor, the Monster is selfish, cruel and hostile, and unnatural. The way Victor relates with other people makes him monstrous, because he cannot relate with people in a good way, thus making him to have no friends (Shelley, 141). This is also similar to the monster, even though the monster is not an actual creature, he is hostile in nature. This hostility makes Victor to run away from him, because Victor of how cruel the monster is, hence Victor cannot put up with his cruelty, and so Victor opts to run away, in order to protect himself from the monster’s cruelty. Furthermore, the monster is selfish, in the sense that he does not care about the wellbeing of other people, and that is why he ends up killing William. The same is applicable to Victor, since he is selfish, and is only concerned with his interests, henceforth he does not care about the way other people suffer from what he has done.

Victor also gives in to the monster’s plea of creating a female monster, in order to make the male monster to have a companion. After creating the female monster, he selfishly changes his mind, and destroys it, and dumps it in the lake, after which he is accused of murder. In this scenario, Victor did not care about the monster, and so he did not see the need of creating a companion for the monster, hereafter he ended up destroying the monster and throwing it in the lake (Shelley, 120). Finally, both Victor and the monster are unnatural simply because, they possess monstrous behaviors, a factor which makes people to run away from them, henceforward, making them to remain lonely. Victor’s character is inhuman, a factor which makes most people to separate themselves from him, making him to have no friends. This is similar to the monster, whose appearance alone, qualifies to send people away from him, including Victor who created him.

Further Support of Monstrosity

“However, some of the most terrifying monsters are those with primarily human attributes. They emphasize similarity between monstrous and the human, and thus they comment on the behaviors of humankind. The manticore, with the body of a lion, tail of a scorpion, and head of a man, was known for its brutally sharp teeth and voracious appetite; the minotaur, part bull and part man, for its violence; and harpies, with the bodies of vultures and the faces of women, for their cruelty (Cooper, 4).”

“The monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads, as an embodiment of a certain cultural moment-of a time, a feeling and a place. The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary), giving them life and uncanny independence (Cohen, 12).”

Shelley’s purpose of writing the novel was to explain, how human beings create obstacles in their own lives, which tend to affect them. In so doing, they end up blaming it on other people, when they themselves are the actual creators of such obstacles, after which they run away from such obstacles. This obstacle was the monster in the novel, which was created by Victor, and ended up running away from it. Secondly, the themes reflect her period, in the sense that they explain and portray what was actually happening during her period, and the beliefs which people had during that period. Thirdly, the themes explain how Shelley’s society was made up of people who determined to change the society, however, when things went contrary to their plans, they ended up running away.


In conclusion, the paper has basically discussed monstrosity in both Victor and the monster, where it was clear that Victor and the monster portrayed similar characteristics, which made them to have monstrous behaviors. In addition, the paper has also looked at the juxtaposition of Victor and the monster, and found the two are related, through their behaviors which are, hostility, selfish, and unnatural, factors which makes people to distances themselves from the two. Finally, the paper has offered support from other sources, regarding the perception of the society regarding the monster, and the reasons as to why the author wrote the story.

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How is monstrosity represented in mary shelley’s novel, frankenstein?. (2018, Sep 23). Retrieved September 23, 2022 , from

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