The Novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley: Guilt and Responsibility


The question of guilt and responsibility in the novel Frankenstein is raised more often than any other because the problem of the relationship between the creator and his offspring never ceases to be relevant. The creator made a creature that brought destruction due to the lack of control and support for his life. The creature went alone, and his creator did not help him along the way. Victor Frankenstein is responsible for the deaths that the creature brought.


Victor creates the monster to attempt to achieve a personal goal and find a way to confront death. He was curious about “where the principle of life comes from,” but he did not appreciate it (Shelley ch. 4). Victor thought he was honoring humanity because there would now be a new man. It was a monster that Frankenstein had abandoned and forgotten, unwilling to take responsibility for his personal development: he was cruel and selfish in his desires (Benedetti 3). Victor disowned the monster and denied him the “exchange of sympathies necessary for existence” (Shelley ch. 17). He despised the creature, called it “a filthy mass that moved and spoke,” and did not recognize it as a new man (Shelley ch. 17). Frankenstein did not take it upon himself to help the monster; he wanted to get far away from him and forget his deed. Victor believed that his creation should abandon him, leave him alone, and walk away as a vicious and ugly, abandoned creature (Shelley ch. 20). The monster was abandoned, and began to commit crimes that Victor did not try to prevent due to his selfishness.

Victor is an example of a parent who chooses himself over a child. In evaluating the monster as a child, one can see that he is unhappy, and from this comes all of his anger (Ashby 62). The monster suffers, asking Victor why he had to endure “incalculable weariness, and cold, and hunger” (Shelley ch. 20). The creature is left alone, and the only way to gain the attention of his “parent” is to do something loud that will make Victor become attached to him (Redei 5). The monster shows many emotions but does not know how to deal with them (Cambra-Badii et al. 5). Frankenstein wants to destroy the monster, not wanting to understand, “pursue the murderer of my peace and precipitate him into the ocean” (Shelley ch. 20). Victor does not realize how much he is hurting a creature that has never known understanding or care. He brings pain to him, which is why the monster is forced to go on a killing spree, trying to get his creator to help him. Victor is self-righteous that he keeps abandoning the monster, who is looking for support.


The creature used threats to force Victor to help him: Chapters 16-19 describe the monster’s multiple claims that he can commit violent crimes. He commits them based on his blindness and his lack of understanding of human relationships. However, the monster does not want to commit murders, which is the only language he can learn because Victor has always been cruel in his experiments. In chapter 24, the monster desiccates Victor and declares that only “sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred” (Shelley ch. 24). Victor probably realizes at the end that he paid the price for the cruelty and hatred that he taught the monster.


The guilt and responsibility for the murders committed by the monster lie with Victor. He did not help the creature adapt to a new world, abandoning it in an attempt to forget its terrible appearance. Frankenstein did not take care to nurture the creature’s feelings, leaving him with only hatred and instilling cruelty. Victor did not take responsibility for his creation, failed as a parent, and continued to be selfish. Although the monster did threaten him and commit cruel acts, they were not motivated by hatred for anyone but Victor because he had not taught him to understand human relationships.

Works Cited

Ashby, Campbell. “Personal Problems = Great Literature: Shelley’s Motherhood Issues Reflected In Frankenstein,” Celebrating Writers and Writing in our Communities, vol. 2, no. 1, 2019.

Benedetti, Caroline. “The Misunderstood Monstrous: An Analysis of the Word “Monster” in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 2020.

Cambra-Badii, Irene et al. “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus: A Classic Novel To Stimulate The Analysis Of Complex Contemporary Issues In Biomedical Sciences”, BMC Medical Ethics, vol. 22, no. 17, 2021. doi: 10.1186/s12910-021-00586-7

Redei, Anna C. “The Human Being as a Creator of (in) Human Life: The Example of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus”. Frontiers in Human Dynamics. doi: 10.3389/fhumd.2022.718435

Shelley, Mary. “Frankenstein”, The Project Gutenberg, 2020.

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