This week I spent some time challenging monsters and re-reading Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. Victor Frankenstein, in Shelley’s novel originally written in 1818, is a scientist who brings a human-like creature to life using parts of the dead and animal pieces. In other words, Victor Frankenstein creates a monster.
(Please note: Victor Frankenstein is actually the scientist himself. Confusion has arisen over the years as the name Frankenstein has often been used to refer to the monster itself, especially in stage adaptations of the story. Frankenstein’s monster is never given a name in the novel.) (short notes courtesy of wikipedia.com).
So, you may be wondering, is this really another blog about monsters?! And how does a novel set in the nineteenth century relate to a blog written in the twenty first?
Here’s what I think : Even still, today, we are not unlike Frankenstein. We, too, create monsters of our own.
Let me share a personal story. A few years ago I encountered some health problems and sought homeopathic care to help restore and heal my body. It took only a couple of sessions for my wellness counsellor to point out that many of my physical problems were deeply rooted in the various amounts of stress which I had in my life at that time. When questioned, I freely admitted to feeling guilty when I let others down, by either saying no or not living up to their expectations. I felt “bad” when others were upset or disappointed with me, whether I could control it or not. I often felt disappointed with myself when things didn’t turn out perfectly, or at least the way I had planned.
“You feel badly because you are allowing others and situations which you can’t control to make you feel this way. So… why are you?” I was asked.
Dumbfounded, I didn’t have an answer. Thinking back now, my answer might’ve been, “Because I want everything and everyone to be happy and peaceful… and, in order to achieve that, it doesn’t matter how I feel.”
In short, I came to realize that I was accepting the ways in which other people treated me because I wasn’t preventing or stopping it. I was burdening myself with the responsibility of things when they went wrong because I tried to assume control of it all. By allowing guilt to permeate me, permitting the overloading of favours, requests, and a sense of responsibility, and, consequently, encouraging the stress to continue, I was giving life to monsters of my very own.
After bringing his experiment to life, Victor Frankenstein is repulsed by his work; the creation which he hoped would be beautiful is instead hideous. Victor flees the room, leaving the monster feeling hopeless and saddened from rejection. The monster disappears, but begins to hunt down his creator (short notes courtesy of wikipedia.com).
We may, unknowingly, create “monsters”, whether it is parts of our personalities or whether it be how we allow the people in our lives to treat us. Aspects of our personalities can become monsters of our own doings — such as being too hard on oneself or taking on too much responsibility for things not ours to control. We may allow people in our lives to walk all over us like a “doormat”. We may be taken advantage of, taken for granted, and even taken to the cleaners! However, when we are unhappy with the product we see before us, the fruits of our creation let’s call them, we may lament and flee as well, leaving our own monsters without an understanding of why we have left. When something which has been deemed as perfectly acceptable all along no longer is, it is often hard to explain why there is a need for change. At times, we too feel hopeless with situations that we find ourselves in because we feel that things cannot change when they have gone on for as long as they have.
Frankenstein’s monster proceeds to destroy many people which Victor loves in an attempt to reach out to his creator and to have an effect on him. The monster does not understand why his master has rejected him, calling himself the “Adam of (your) labours” (short notes courtesy of wikipedia.com).
Our own creatures may pursue us, searching for an understanding of why they are no longer desirable to us; our conscience may nag us or people may wonder why we are suddenly cool towards them. We may have created our monsters lovingly, but they are now hideous to us because we have deemed that their behaviours will no longer be tolerated, perhaps for the simple reason that we have decided that enough is enough. In deciding to stand up for ourselves, we choose to let the monsters go. We can be a positive example to the products we have created, and to others, by saying farewell to those things that have had a negative hold on us.
Victor Frankenstein dies aboard a ship and his creature is found mourning over his body. Frankenstein’s death has not brought him peace. Instead, the monster finds only his own emotional ruin in the destruction of his creator (short notes courtesy of wikipedia.com).
Could Frankenstein’s story have ended differently? Yes, I believe so. If Victor had stayed with his creation, nurtured it, educated it right from wrong, and instructed it on how to be compassionate and humane numerous tragedies could’ve been prevented and much grief spared. The creature could have learned to love and to be loved in return. Instead, the creature is left to say a sad farewell to his creator after his death and to float off to his own demise.
“Oh, it is not thus – not thus,” interrupted the being… “Farewell, Frankenstein! If thou wert yet alive and yet cherished a desire of revenge against me, it would be better satiated in my life than in my destruction. But it was not so; thou didst seek my extinction, that I might not cause greater wretchedness… for the bitter sting of remorse will not cease to rankle in my wounds until death shall close them forever”. (Shelley, p.1120)
Like Victor Frankenstein, we may have formed our creations (knowingly or unknowingly) with the best of intentions. Our monsters did not originally intend to bestow harm on us. Their creation may have started as innocently as Frankenstein’s – a desire to live, learn, and love. Teaching others how to treat us is no easy task if we don’t love ourselves first. We need to have respect for ourselves to know that we deserve respect from others. Learning to accept things the way they are is not simple either. Sometimes things happen for a reason not known to us and out of our control. We need to trust that God knows what’s best. We need to challenge, confront, and let our monsters go before they destroy us, or like Frankenstein, there may be no happy ending.
Dear Readers, thank you for your continued support! Your comments, shares, and likes are always appreciated!! Much love ~ K ~