aysLoss of Innocence in Frankenstein



In the novel “Frankenstein,” Victor Frankenstein is the creator of a “monster.” Because of his thirst for knowledge, he goes too far and creates a huge monster, which he immediately rejects. This rejection plays a major part in the monster’s hatred for humans. The author, Mary Shelley, supports the theme, loss of innocence, through plot, setting and characterization. This paper will explain the many ways that the characters lost their innocence throughout the novel.

The plot deals with the conflict that is inside Victor Frankenstein, who produces a monstrous creature. Victor is disgusted at the site of the creature he has created. “I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived”(43). After Victor rejects the monster, he meets a family that brings out his sensitive side. When these people reject him, the creature destroys everything in sight. “I was like a wild beast that had broken the toils, destroying the objects that obstructed me and ranging through the wood with a staglike swiftness”(121). The innocent Justine is accused of a murder, committed by the creature, and dies, therefore increasing Victor’s feelings of guilt and his need for revenge. Victor makes it his mission to destroy the monster, who has been ruining his life. The monster threatens to be there with Victor on his wedding night. Victor interprets this as a threat against his own life, but instead finds his wife, Elizabeth, murdered. “She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair”(179). The next paragraph discusses how loss of innocence was portrayed through setting.

When Victor is seventeen, he leaves for the University of Ingolstadt, where he spends six years. He creates the monster in an old deserted house in this city. It is when he rejects the monster that he begins to lose innocence. “I did not dare return to the apartment which I inhabited, but felt impelled to hurry on, although drenched by the rain which poured from a black and comfortless sky”(44). Victor wants to travel abroad, so he makes a trip to England. Then he and Henry meet at Strasbourg and head to the Rhine River, from where they go to London. Victor travels the northern highlands, and on a remote island he finds a place where he can create the female that the monster demanded. With this decision, he loses a little more innocence. “Oh! My creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit! Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some existing thing; do not deny me my request”(131). After Victor quits making the female, he proceeds to Paris and later leaves for Geneva again, where Elizabeth and Victor enjoy their marriage. After they get married and spend some brief time on the shore of Lake Como, the monster is angry with Victor for not finishing his female, so he loses a bit of innocence by killing the one Victor loves. “Now that virtue has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned into bitter and loathing despair, in what should I seek for sympathy?”(203). The following paragraph is going to explain how the characterization proves loss of innocence.

Victor Frankenstein loses all of his innocence when his father dies. “What then became of me? I know not; I lost sensation, and chains and darkness were the only objects that pressed upon me”(182). When Justine was blamed for the murder of William, Elizabeth lost her innocence because her trust has been betrayed. Elizabeth believed that Justine was innocent, but when the judges claim she is guilty and Justine confesses, Elizabeth is very upset. “How shall I ever again believe in human goodness? Justine, whom I loved and esteemed as my sister, how could she put on those smiles of innocence only to betray?”(70). It turns out Justin never really did the crime, she only confessed to it. This is the point where she loses innocence. “I did confess, but I confessed a lie”(71).

In conclusion, many characters in Frankenstein lose their innocence. Victor’s loss of innocence is by far the most important because he contributes to the loss of innocence of the other characters. This novel is a great example of what happens when people take science too far, without considering the consequences of their actions.