Frankenstein and Responsibility

Created by Vera Skupien

What is Responsibility?

Responsibility by definition is, The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or the idea of being accountable for something. In the Novel of Frankenstein there is a huge aspect of Responsibility and how certain characters choose to accept responsibility or ignore it. Many devastating situations occurred throughout the novel and this is why Responsibly is a big theme in the novel. For instance some speculate whether or not the devastating situations that occurred would have even happened, if someone just took the initiative and accepted their responsibility for their poor actions. Both, Victor and the Creature who are the main characters in the novel, express contrasting opinions on responsibility. Those disagreements amongst the two, in my opinion could have been a main factor for the preceding injustices that happened in the novel. Just like the characters in the novel, There are also many readers who convey dissimilar opinions on responsibility and it goes to show how responsibility in the novel, also connects to the real world.

Five Fast Facts About Responsibility According to Barry A. Bass Ph.D.

  1. Saying “we need to change” rather than “I need to change” diminishes our own responsibility for making things better.
  2. Taking responsibility requires that we not offer “extenuating circumstances” as the reason for our unacceptable behavior.
  3. Short term guilt is a useful message from ourselves to ourselves telling us to stop doing something we know is wrong. Long term guilt means we are ignoring the message.
  4. A promise is more powerful than a guarantee: A guarantee says, “I’ll fix it if it breaks;” a promise says, “It will never break.”
  5. Anger is always unwarranted-even when directed at someone who’s angry at us.

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Victor Frankenstein and the Creature's view on Responsibility (Quotes)

Victor- “Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.” (Chapter 2)

[This quote connects to responsibility because Victor is blaming fate for all the terrible destruction around him and not his own actions. This quote also has a connection to the real world because many people today blame other variables for things that they actually caused.]

Victor- “Horror and discus filled my heart, Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bed chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep.” (Chapter 5)

[ In this quote Victor is not taking responsibility for the creature he just created and he is running from his own problems. This very scene of Victor fleeing, foreshadows all the soon to come complications and deaths that Victor will eventually have to take responsibility for. If Victor would have planned better and understood what he truly was creating, He could have saved himself and others from the dreadful turmoil.]

Victor- “I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind and endowed with the will and purpose of horror, such as the deed which he had now done, nearly in the light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave and forced to destroy all that was dear to me.” (Chapter 7)

[This quote shows Victor expressing his inner feelings and his intense guilt for all the problems that have occurred. Victor appears to finally show somewhat of an understanding of the connection between his wrong doings and all the chaos around him. This also relates to the real world because some people who have also done bad things, take longer to fully accept or take responsibility for their actions, just like Victor.]

Victor- “During the whole of this wretched mockery of justice I suffered living torture. It was to be decided whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices would cause the death of two of my fellow beings. now all was to be obliterated in an ginormous grave, and I THE CAUSE. A thousand times I would have confessed myself.”(Chapter 8)

[Victor, now, is thinking about all the terrible instances that have befallen upon him and is trying to convince himself that he is not yet to blame for the creature’s destruction. He does, though, appear to understand that he was the one who has caused all of his own personal problems. Victor is slowly causing his own downfall and might finally take responsibility for his actions…Unfortunately for Victor, it appears to be, too late.]

Creature- “Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.” (Chapter 10)

[In this quote the creature is very angry with Victor and is pointing out Victor’s cowardliness, and bitterness towards him. The Creature is trying to make a point to Victor that he wasn’t there for him and therefore needs to one way or another take control/Responsibility of his terrible actions. Victor, though, still runs from responsibility as a creator, to care for, or exterminate, the life he made. There are many real life instances that parallel this situation and I think one of them is when women accidently get pregnant and throw away their responsibility for the child. Many of those women think more about them selves and often put the burden of their child on innocent people.]

Creature- ”I was dependent on none and related to none. The path of my departure was free, and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them.” (Chapter15)

[The creature in this quote is recollecting what first happened to him and all the thoughts that accompanied his odd new mind. He talks about how he was dependent on none and that he had to form his own morals and values to the best of his knowledge less self. The creature had to take responsibility for him self to find shelter, food, water, and many other necessities. The creature was like a newly born innocent baby, but he unfortunately had no mother or father to take care of him. The creature lacked a responsible, caring, and rightful parent.

Creature- “Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence, which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery.” (Chapter 16)

[The creature is blaming Victor for his terrible and desolate life.]

Creature- “I swear by the sun and the blue sky of heaven, and by the fire of love that burns in my heart, that if you grant my prayer, while they exist, you shall never behold me again.” (Chapter 17 Pg.127)

[In this quote the monster called upon Frankenstein to fulfill his obligation of providing for his happiness by creating a female companion to keep him company. Out of his sense of obligation to his creation and out of fear for his family, Frankenstein agreed to make the female monster. His responsibility to his creation carried greater weight than the idea of his responsibility to humanity for the actions of the original monster and the new one he agreed to create. He hadn't yet realized the full weight of responsibility he would bear for the actions of both monsters. So, the creature is holding Victor responsible for his sadness and is allowing Victor to make a manse.]

Creature- "You are in the wrong and instead of threatening, I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?” (Chapter 17)

[The creature is very mad at Victor and is explaining to him how he should take responsibility. Victor is still blaming the creature for all the deaths.]

Victor- “Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of Life? Two I have already destroyed, other victims await their destiny.” (Chapter 21)

[Victor lands in an Irish town, where the inhabitants greet him hostilely, as they had found a dead body the night before and suspected him. During his trial the town magistrate shows Victor the body to gauge his reaction. Victor discovers the victim to be Henry Clerval and falls to the ground. Victor is extremely sadden by Henry Clerval’s death and he feels he is to blame. I also think Victor is to blame for his friends death.]

Victor- While traveling home, Victor and his father stop to rest in Paris. “Human beings, their feelings and passions would indeed be degraded if such a wretch as I felt pride. Justine, poor happy Justine, was as innocent as I, and she suffered the same charge; She died for it; and I am the cause of this ­­­--- I murdered her. William, Justine, and Henry--- They all died by my hands.” (Chapter 22)

[Victor is ashamed of his actions and is taking responsibility for the creatures destruction and deaths of the innocent people he knew.]

My Personal Thoughts on Responsibility

I think there are many factors to take into consideration when talking about responsibility and who is to blame for all the wrong doings in the Frankenstein novel. I think people should evaluate what the person's main goals were before they blame someone for many serious things. For example Victor created the creature to see if he could go above and beyond all the normal scientific expectations. Victor appeared to be doing his scientific experiment for the good of the people, but we soon realize he didn't plan accordingly and whether Victor likes it or not he was the creator of a creature who killed many people. So, given that information i do really think Victor is responsible for the deaths of the innocent people that the creature killed. Victor had the opportunity many times to exterminate the creature and he chose not to. Plus Victor abandoned all his hard work and ran from his own creation, just when it was convenient for him. Victor knew he should have stayed with the creature he just made, but he didn't. Victor made many poor decisions that he knew would cause problems and that is why i feel Victor is responsible for all the tragedies that occurred in the novel.
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The Importance of Responsibility as a life Lesson

Being responsible in my opinion is a sign of good character, maturity and reliability, and it is a desirable personality trait for anyone to possess. When people depend on a person to do something, it means that others believe the person is responsible enough to handle the task. A person who is responsible is often perceived as a good relative, student, mate, friend or civilian. I think Being responsible is very important as a life lesson because it helps the world go around. Responsibility has a tremendous benefit for all nations and it helps people of different kinds learn to trust people and strive to be the best they can. Without responsibility there would be a lack of trust, friendship, productivity and many other great things. It is in our hands to keep our world alive with Knowledge, Friendship and especially responsibility!

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