Monstrosity is a word used to describe actions and events with inhumane acts. It involves the actions of people with evil intentions or who lack the basic human feeling of mercy for other creations. A monster is a creature both human and non-human who bears little compassion and thought for fellow mankind and displays a cruelty that is directed towards others. In most narratives and tales, the monster is usually a creature who terrorizes the human race. The theme of monstrosity has been clearly emphasized in more clearly in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein than Charles Dicken's Great Expectations.
From both tales, it becomes clear that guilt is a key emotion in many individuals and that no matter how bad an individual acts, they may at one time or another develop feelings of guilt. The characters in both tales deviate from the good morals expected of them in society and go on to exhibit character that is detestable and in the least likeable. However, after a while, it becomes apparent that their action was clearly wrong and they feel guilty and ashamed of such heinous acts. They start upon the path of meditation all with the intention of making things right and remedy the ills they have committed.
Mary Shelleys Frankenstein story begins with Victor Frankenstein, a young man whose curiosity in science is at peak. He seeks to discover that which no man has been able to do -Create a living creature just as in the creation of man. A look at his words to Walton So much has been done exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein more far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation (Shelley,46). The utterance shows his deep passion to achieve this goal and also demonstrates the fact that he is so consumed by the idea that he barely considers what the implication of his actions will be.
Suffices to say that the process of creation was monstrous as it utilized old body parts a sight which is in itself unnatural and of the dark arts. During this entire time, Victor does not even question how odd his actions are. The result of his creation is as scary as it is monstrous because the description in the text is vivid enough to show how disturbing the image of the creation was. A direct quotation from the text reads I saw with shut eyes but acute mental vision- I saw the pale student of unhallowed acts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, shows signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be, for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world (Shelley,344).
The new creature would not fit into society due to the fact that it looked monstrous and would make people feel scared and threatened with most chasing it away. In an instance, the monster saved a drowning girl only for villagers to chase it away. Such torment drove the monster to unmeasurable torment with its cry to its creator Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me Man, did I solicit thee, from darkness to promote me (Shelley,240).
Typical of any monster story, the creature decided to exact revenge upon its creator Victor Frankenstein in spite of the fact that he was not directly responsible for its torment by other people. In a horrific act, the monster is suspected of killing his brother William who had been ill for quite a while. The suspicions of his death are borne by Justine Moritz a gentle young girl who is subsequently executed. It is clear that Victors irresponsibly evil creation resulted in two innocent deaths. He ponders and says Alas! I had turned loose into the world a depraved wretch whose delight was in carnage and mystery, had he not murdered my brother? (Shelley,84).
However, soon after, Victor is convinced by the creature to create a feminine companion which he tries at first until it hits him, the damaging effects of yet another monster on the roam changes his mind. In retaliation, the monster strangles Henry Carval, Victors childhood friend to death.
In his quest to seek revenge, Victor moves himself from his young wife due to the creatures threat to harm him on his wedding night. The creature however strikes at his wife Elizabeth and kills her leaving Victor tormented and his father dead due to grief. The creator now seeks revenge with his last breath since he has lost all that is dear to him. It is clear that he feels a deep sense of guilt and regrets his urge to create such a vile monster.
Upon his death in Waltons ship, the monster returns and sees the lifeless body of his creator. He weeps and expresses his solitude, suffering and torment. At this point, it is evident that the monster strongly regrets his actions and is not at peace with himself. He resolves to end his suffering by heading towards the Northernmost Ice to die.
Dickens Great Expectations also indicates how society creates outcasts and forthwith regards them in a negative manner. The result is that the individual feels alienated then acts out of hatred and frustration in manner that is selfish and harmful to the social well-being. One comes across people who are socially cast away such as Miss Havisham a rich old woman who lived a lifestyle away from people. After being left at the altar, ridicule and pain follows her and she decides to live away from the company of fellow townspeople. They speak of the fact that she spends her time in her white wedding dress since Compeyson left her at the altar.
She thus trains her daughter Estella to break every mans heart as an enactment of her revenge. The first victim of this monstrous act is Pip who is heartbroken and yearns for an opportunity to become a gentleman hence marry Estella. Her statement epitomizes this When she first came to me, I meant to save her from misery like my own, at first I meant no moreBut as she grew and promised to be very beautiful, I gradually did worse, and with my praises, and with my jewels, and with my teachings and with this figure of myself always before her, a warning to back and point my lessons, I stole her heart away and put ice in its place (Dickens,445).
Pip also discovers the trappings of Londons delights and becomes a high class snob forgetting his humble beginnings in Kent. Here the author shows us how Pip becomes evil of heart and hurts people he once cared about such as Joe.He sees his old friends as of a lower social caste and as unrefined individuals, he says of Joe I was truly wretched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joes trade. I had like it once before, but once was not now (Dickens,117). Magwitch is also another creature whom society has brutally alienated due to the fact that he was an ex-convict and is on the run from both the police and his former partner in crime Compeyson who left Miss Havisham at the altar.
Orlick is also another character full of hatred and ruthless revenge. From the start, he bears a grudge on Pip for the love of the beautiful Estelle. This crush ends up with him beating up Mrs. Joe and killing her. The fact that he killed Pips sister for revenge is monstrous enough and even worse still is his attempt on Pips life which was saved by Herbert.
Nonetheless, in most of these evil acts by the characters in both books; it becomes clear that regret is a common character trait and most of them develop a heavy heart after carrying out acts deemed inhumane. The result is that they ponder and admit how wrong they were and how they are deeply sorry for their actions. From Victor Frankensteins regret for creating such a vile monster that led to immense sorrow and eventually death, to the monsters regret for killing its creators loved ones; we see how deeply disturbed the characters are. The same can also be spoken of Miss Havisham who apologized to Pip shortly before her death.
The main character Pip also experiences a feeling of deep-set regret for looking down upon his loved ones and hurting them. He views the entire social caste system as breeding contempt between the classes. A view he thinks is unfair and monstrous since it does not consider the inner nobility of intentions and goodwill.
In conclusion, one can fairly argue out that from both texts one thing is clear. The world is full of monstrous and evil acts. However, the human consciences feels guilty after committing a bad act on others. Most of the time, this guilt leads to grief and pain, eventually people regret their actions and seek to remedy their ill deeds.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Norton Critical Editions (Edited By Edgar Rosenberg), 1999. Print.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein Dover Thrift Editions. Dover Publications, 1994. Print.
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