Justice and Injustice
The source of the conflict between Victor and the monster starts when the monster knows that he has been the victim of foul injustice at the hands of humans and he wants Victor to correct these wrongs, and do in this way, JUSTICE.
The monster sees himself as the son of Victor when he says: 'I am thy creature: ought to be thy
Adam but I am rather the fallen angel, and demands that Victor fulfil his duty as a father. His deeds of revenge and mischief are due to pain, suffering and abandonment; this makes Victor partially responsible for the deaths of William and Justine. Victor cannot give the monster friendship because he cannot forgive him for William's murder. However, Victor does realise that he has 'no right' to withhold the gift of a female creature and that it would be 'justice' to create her. To deny him a mate is to deny him of his natural right to fraternity.
The need for love, whether from friends, family or a partner, is a crucial issue in the novel. Victor's early years are portrayed as a paradise. Unlike the monster, he has nolonging for love and affection because his parents ‘overflowed with kindness’. Close relationships are depicted as a life-giving force. Nature is also seen as a friend with the power to lift a human out of gloom and anxiety. Victor brings the creature back to life but fails to act as his friend and this is why the monster justice making evil to Victor’s friends. The revenge appears as a natural affect of Victor's experiment.
In the eighth chapter Shelley introduces an important theme of discussion: the political system of justice. In this chapter, Justine is hanged for William's murder; through the dialogue between Victor and Justine in the prison, we can see the unfairness of the legal system and the corruption in religious institutions. In fact, Justine says: 'I commit my cause to the justice of my judge, yet I see no room for hope.' ; than Victor says: '…all judges had rather than ten innocent should suffer than one guilty should escape.' The religious corruption is evident when Justine says: 'Ever since I was condemned, my confessor has besieged me; he threatened and menaced, until I almost began to think that I was the monster that he said I was. (…) In an evil hour I subscribed to a lie...'. So we can find the macabre irony that a man of God should cruelly abuse his power to and force Justine confess a lie makes her feel like a monster.
Injustice is the major theme of Frankenstein. Not only the monster is victim of social injustice, but many people in the book are punished for crimes they didn't commit; the monster suffers because, for his physical aspect, people don’t judge him like them. Felix, for example, drives out him because, seeing him physically, thinks that he is a criminal. It is for this reason that then he becomes bad and vindictive, because people are injected with him, and base their opinion on exteriority. The only one person that listen to him is Felix's father because he is blind.
Others victims of injustice are Safie's father who is treated unjustly by the French government, the De Lacey family suffer poverty as a result of injustice and also Frankenstein who at first proved innocent, is imprisoned and declared guilty of the death of his friend Clerval. Anyway the most evident case of injustice in this book, besides the monster's case, is Justine Moritz that is even killed for a crime that she didn't commit, that is to say the murder of William the younger brother of Frankenstein.
Elizabeth is against the behaviour of people that has brought Justine to death and she also says that while Justine is executed unjustly for a crime that she didn't commit, the real murderer is free again and perhaps even respected. At last needless to say that also William and Elizabeth are victims of injustice. They are even killed unjustly because of the injustice suffered from the monster.
Opinion, like or dislike formed before one has adequate knowledge or experience.
In Frankenstein, there are many examples of characters who are prejudiced misunderstood and victimised by others, which leads to their rejection, isolation and despair.
Justine, the Turkish Merchant and Victor are oppressed by people who crassly abuse their authority. Justine is wrongly put to death by judges who ‘had rather ten innocent should suffer than one guilty should escape. She is also forced to confess a lie by a priest.
Similarly, the Turk is condemned to death because the French authorities dislike his race, values and culture, which are different from their own.
Fear of Difference
People’s fear of things which are unknown to them or which they don't understand, can bring out the worst in them-namely, mental cruelty and physical violence. People oppress other people by attacking, excluding, or imprisoning them in order to control the source oh this fear.
Victor is treated roughly and brought in front of a magistrate by the suspicious Irish crowd because
he is foreign. Justine is tormented by the crowd because they have already labelled her a child-murdered. Most obviously, the monster is beaten by the villagers because of his ugly physical appearance. They don't judge him by his actions or seek to understand him.
The prison is an important symbol. The imprisonment of Justine and Victor are injustices because they are both innocent. The monster has to retreat into a hovel, a symbol of this social exclusion,
rejection and isolation. It’s his prison.
In addition to trying to understand and fit into human society, it was primary importance for the monster to understand who he was and his origins. He developed by himself through the experience of sensations without guidance from similar beings. He was shunned by society and ha no understanding of why he was different, why he had no family and why there was no one else like him.
The most significant mark of the monster's alienation from society was his lack of name. The absence of a name denies the monster the knowledge of he is, his fami1iar origins and a connection to successive generations. The monster's lack of a name and place in society, which caused him such distress, is shown in the following: he is narrating his experiences to Victor.
"But where are my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses. I had never yet seen a being resembling me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I?”
People's inability to see the true reality beneath the appearance of things is a central theme. The window or frame is a symbol of how we view things. Many characters are mentally imprisoned by their own perspectives.
Until Chapter 11, we see the monster as a 'devil' because this is how Victor sees him. We get a big shock when the monster speaks. His thoughts are beautiful. When Victor sees him at the window of his hut in the Orkneys he describes him as full of 'treachery'. We don't believe him. It's only now we see that Victor's prejudices have clouded his judgement. There are two perspectives of the creature: a 'feeling and kind friend' or a 'detestable monster'. William, the nurse, Felix, the old man and the Turk all have limited view points.
There are manyinstances when we feel that the human are more monstrous than the monster. Shelley could be using the monster as a symbol for our own ugliness or the animal side of man's nature.
Although the monster appears to be the cause of fear and prejudice, he might stand for our ugly and violent reaction to something unknown and different.