‘In Frankenstein, Shelley shows the reader that even forces for good, such as love and friendship, wholly fail to protect the individual against evil’. How do you respond to this statement? There are various events that reveal elements of sin and immorality within the novel. Yet although these cases are not prevented on a number of occasions Shelley still depicts that the bonds between families, friends and strangers are so valuable that they provide the security and hope necessary to provide safety and protection. Many of the tragic events in the novel involve an innocent character suffering due to the actions of another.
One of the majorly heartrending events in the novel is the unfortunate death of William. He was so dearly cared for and loved yet it was not enough to protect him from suffering; due to Frankenstein’s actions. Despite his good intentions for the ‘sweet’ child, Frankenstein indirectly caused his nephew’s death. Similarly, the injustice brought upon Justine was caused by Frankenstein’s actions. Regardless of the admiration and respect Frankenstein had for Justine it was not enough to save his friendship with her but ultimately neither was it enough to protect her life.
Again, with the murders of Elizabeth and Clerval, although absolutely appreciated and loved by Frankenstein, his honest intentions were not strong enough to suppress the authority of the Creature, who caused his loved ones’ suffering and in due course their deaths. Of course all of these characters were seen as ‘enchanting’ and an ‘adored companion of all my [F’s] occupations’, which further proves that goodness within the heart does not and cannot always protect a victim from iniquity, no matter the number of people or amount of veneration.
By choosing to isolate himself from society Frankenstein disables the chance to retrieve the aid that he needed. In order to solve his problems with the Creature it is now evident that assistance throughout the difficult process would have been effective for Frankenstein and would not have led him to his untimely death. Similarly, the help that Frankenstein received from Clerval was dearly valuable as Frankenstein’s health collapses and leads him to his death latter to the death of Clerval therefore showing that a protector and an advisor would have been sufficient.
This shows that although the love and care from his loved ones was once there it had not lasted due to the actions of the Creature, but primarily also to Frankenstein’s actions, and thus the maliciousness in this situation has overpowered love and care. As a contrast, partly due to the guilt and shame, the Creature’s intentions of suicide were majorly affected by his experience of negligence. By the use of multi narrative text, Shelley is able to give the Creature his own opinion to express that he was not provided with sufficient love and friendship.
This then showed that the necessary protection from sin and danger was removed and the Creature suffered because of it. This is evident through the identification of the constant unrealistic epithets used to describe the Creature such as ‘wretch’, ‘devil’, ‘catastrophe’, in which the list is continuous. Although, unlike with the characters aforementioned, the Creature was given, if any, little care in his life and so the power of good against the power of sin was limited in the first place to protect him from sin.
However, the strength of friendship and trust is bold between the characters, which ultimately overpower the foreboding evil. This is especially seen in Clerval who, although seen as an unrealistic character, he brought security and warmth for Frankenstein in desperate times. This is evident when he addresses his troubled friend as ‘my dear friend’, he ‘observed my [Frankenstein’s] change of colour’ and also his melancholy state of emotion regarding life as seen from ‘are you always to be unhappy? ’.
This question shows not only that Clerval recognises a change for the worst in his friend but he is also concerned that the matters in hand will accelerate. This admiration for Frankenstein was also seen switched as Frankenstein saw Clerval as a ‘wonderful’ friend and who ‘rejoiced in my gaiety’, which shows both that Clerval finds it pleasing and relieving to see his friend in better condition and also that Frankenstein recognises this in his friend, which proves the supremacy in the bond of their friendship. Another prime example of good overpowering forces of evil is the master of Walton’s ship.
His ‘integrity and dauntless courage’ led him to pass all his money to his wife-to-be’s lover, a complete stranger, in order to provide this woman with happiness and true love. This act of generosity supports the idea that admiration can bring fulfilment rather than misery. Conversely, the situation between the De Laceys and the Creature shows great protection and security. Although the fortification was not necessary Felix still put his life on the line to save others and this thought and genuineness shows that the power of integrity engulfs the force of wickedness.
It would seem that clearly the majority of the novel involves a lot of care and love between the characters. However, it would deem appropriate to assume that this constant presence of nobility is subdued by the malice and cruelty of the novel. Referring back to the statement in hand, evil is not ‘wholly’ overpowered by love and friendship neither does it overpower these forces but it seems that the power of love is not as powerful as it needs to be to overwhelm injustice and malevolence.