Shellys wife whose contribution to the understanding of the tragic victim and the arch villain does not answer many questions but helps readers pose several questions to themselves. Vengeance, its genesis and its consequences are the primary topics dwelt with supreme literary control in Frankenstein. Revenge can be defined as a desire to inflict harm, mostly similar to what is being suffered by the avenger on the person/s perceived to have precipitated it. In human history and in literature there have been examples of revenge, which have fascinated the attention of the readers and scholarly for very many years.
However Mary Shelly succeeds in depicting the genesis of all consuming revenge to be a by product of good intentions gone wrong. This is the story of mankind, where, in more than one instance the avenger and the avenged were related by ties of love or any other tender emotion before Revenge takes centre stage and Shelly succeeds in convincing the readers that revenge is generally precursor for destruction on a complete and depressing basis. The monster has several seemingly legitimate complaints against Victor.
His creator deserted him at birth, and created him in a manner that his humane nature was invisible to all who he wanted to befriend and all that was visible and glaring was the grotesque monstrosity which instantly evoked fear, malice and hatred without assigning reason. When the being argued with Victor to create for him a mate, Victor first agreed and then wavered in his sympathies and efforts to fulfill the monsters pathological and highly justified need for a mate, as he chose the well being of human beings above the needs of his creation.
This lack of understanding from his very creator plants the seeds of vengeance in the being against its own creator. He wants to inflict on Victor, the same fate of being without loved ones or losing them to an avoidable situation and thereby appreciating the predicament of the being, which he considers is entirely Victors fault. Instead of facing the consequences of his creation, the guilt laden Victor tries to deny any form of justice to the Being and considers his annihilation as the only recourse.
The ensuing tussle is where the Being inflicts the greatest wounds on his creator by causing the death of Victors friend and confidant, wife and father. from that moment [he] declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against [Frankenstein] who had formed [him] and sent [him] forth to this insupportable misery. (p. 121) Thus finding himself all alone and unsociable, unable to cope with the loss of loved ones, Victor transforms into the monster he created by baying for his blood, no matter the consequences.
It is strange that the incidents leading to the unhappy ending of Victors life are mostly self-inflicted but are seldom acknowledged by him thus. Playing God is a responsibility and a task not to be undertaken lightly, if at all. The desertion of his own creation is one of the worst forms of escapism (as though Victor was hoping that all of it was a bad dream which would cease the moment he opens his eyes).
It is also the insensitivity of Victor in not trying to recognize the innate goodness and humane nature in his creation Victors world becomes a stage where he is bound by an unstoppable desire to seek revenge on his creation by destroying it and his connection to the sublime nature is severed. The barren Arctic wasteland into which Victor soon chases the monster embodies the raw and primal quality of his hatred for his creation and becomes the final, inescapable resting place for both man and monster.
The crucial transition happens when Victor loses the most important element of his life Elizabeth and her love, Victor becomes dehumanized and develops an obsessive thirst for revenge similar to that exhibited previously by the being. Miserable himself that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die. The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed. (p. 199-200) In the saga of revenge, cause and effect are often glossed over to give legitimacy to ones arguments.
Walton says I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; yet when I recalled what Frankenstein had said of his powers of eloquence and persuasion¦. indignation was rekindled within me (P. 202) This is the general tendency of people who align themselves along one of the sides in a revenge story. Walton found it credible to sympathize with Victors suffering but never once wanted to question what brought the being to its current degree of monstrosity that it chose to torment and finally extinguish the flame of his creators life.
Revenge is the primary theme discussed as an undercurrent and has resonance to the concept of hell in expressions of agony by both Victor Frankenstein and the being. Vengeance is always about choices. All [his] speculations and hopes are as nothing, and like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, [he] [is] chained in an eternal hell. (p. 194) A choice exercised by Victor in choosing the well being of his fellow men and the resultant dereliction of his duties to his creation is the beginning of a slight, a betrayal and the seed of revenge.
The result of Revenge is always destruction to all concerned. It is like a fall that has no redemption. It is painful for the inflictor and the inflicted and this all consuming passion is the manifestation of hell on earth ensconced inside the hearts of those that carry it in them. The continuous mood of gloom, despair and detailed references to hell fire are clever was of the distinguished writer in warning the readers that lives spent in the seeking of and consumed by revenge shall always be covered by gloom and misery.
The circumstances which lead to the birth and growth of revenge and the mystical way in which it appears to be correct from both the opposing ends is the essential theme of Frankenstein by Shelley and the real monster is the urge to seek and exact revenge and that precisely is the hell a person carries within him for all life.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, Frankenstein: or the modern Prometheus, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998