Notes on Frankenstein Themes

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Frankenstein Topic Tracking: Responsibility

Chapters 7-12

Responsibility 1: Elizabeth felt responsible for William's murder because she loaned him the locket that was presumed to be the motive for the murder. Her feeling of responsibility was so great that it manifested itself in physical illness. Throughout the story Elizabeth, and even more so Frankenstein, have a sense of responsibility for things that they did not directly cause.

Responsibility 2: Frankenstein felt responsible for his younger brother's death when he realized that the monster he created murdered William. Frankenstein started to feel as if he himself had committed the murder because of his role in the monster's existence. Everything the monster did was Frankenstein's fault because he was the creator. Rather than blame the monster for his downfall, Frankenstein blamed himself because he created the monster's life.

Responsibility 3: Frankenstein felt as if he murdered Justine as well as William because she was executed for a crime the monster committed. Elizabeth was altered by the injustice of Justine's death, and Frankenstein felt responsible for that alteration as well. The chain of events that the monster set off with William's murder began not with the monster, but with Frankenstein's desire to create life.

Responsibility 4: The weight of remorse about his role in the deaths of William and Justine adversely affected Frankenstein's mental and physical health. His responsibility for their deaths and whatever other destruction the monster may have wreaked on humanity overwhelmed him.

Responsibility 5: When the monster came to Frankenstein to plead his case and tell his story, Frankenstein realized that he had some obligation to the monster because he created it, in the same way that he bore responsibility for the monster's actions. Frankenstein was no longer simply responsible to humanity for the monster's actions, but he was also responsible to the monster for his happiness. Being the creator of a life was more responsibility than Frankenstein planned for.

Chapters 13-18

Responsibility 6: 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.

Responsibility 7: Before Frankenstein could marry Elizabeth, he had to complete his obligation to the monster so that he could be completely rid of him and the responsibility for his actions. As a result, Frankenstein postponed the wedding and took a trip to England to work without the danger of being discovered by his family. His obligation to the monster was not only to ensure the monster's happiness, which Frankenstein felt obliged to do as the monster's creator, but also as a way to protect his family from the monster's vengeance.

Chapters 19-24

Responsibility 8: Before he completed the female monster, Frankenstein realized the weight of responsibility he would bear if together the two monsters destroyed any other human life or reproduced, and the thought was just too much to bear. Rather than deal with the responsibility for two hideous, superhuman creatures, Frankenstein would rather deal with the wrath of one, so he destroyed his work on the female monster. So began the battle between Frankenstein and the monster.

Responsibility 9: Frankenstein was responsible for Henry's death at the hands of the monster, and this grief rendered him ill for a long time. Frankenstein is once again in the position he found himself with William and Justine's deaths. He didn't murder Henry, but his friendship with Frankenstein made Henry susceptible to the monster's wrath because he used Henry to get back at Frankenstein. Although the Irish magistrate acquitted him, Frankenstein knew that he was responsible for Henry's death because he had defied the monster's wishes and the monster repaid him by killing his friend.

Responsibility 10: Frankenstein, feeling responsible for Elizabeth's death as well as his father's, vowed vengeance. The only way to absolve his responsibility for the monster's actions was to kill him, so that's what Frankenstein set out to do. He was responsible for the monster's creation and its actions, and he planned to be responsible for the monster's destruction as well.

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