Dr. Frankenstein as an Unreliable Narrator

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This snippet of our “hero”, Frankenstein’s, dialogue from his deathbed portrays an image of a man grasping for peace with his self, a man rationalizing his past actions with a skewed sense of reason and virtue: “...I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find it blameable” (Shelley 216). A reader sympathetic to the creature can pick their way through this passage, rebutting the dying man’s proclamations of duty and righteousness. On a grander scale, by giving Frankenstein both the ability and the presumed need to pacify his own conscience, Shelley unlocked a tremendous sense of realism, interiority, and ambiguity in her character. While a reminiscent Frankenstein might be able to shed all senses of guilt, a close reading can prove entirely otherwise. Somehow, he believes that his duty to “assure, as far as was in [his] power, [the creature’s] happiness and well­being” only applied to the creature’s request for a partner. The creator’s failure to provide anything for the creature immediately following creation is conveniently overlooked. He abandoned the creature, left him to be hardened and left malignant by rejection. Even if by nothing more than negligence, Frankenstein is responsible for his creation’s “unparalleled malignity and selfishness” (216) and, in turn, the deaths of his friends and family. He even recognized this, himself, earlier in his retelling: “I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer” (113). Time and time again, Frankenstein justified his complete inaction regarding the safety of his family with statements like, “I thought of pursuing the devil, but it would have been in vain” (99), or when it came to saving Justine from her execution, “a declaration would have been considered as the ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her who suffered through me” (103). Christopher LaGant English 208 (005)
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