The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal


Although Mary Shelley invented her chimerical creature in Frankenstein over 200 years ago, the Being still thrives within modern horror mythology. Recognizing that filmmakers, authors, and the characters within the original book itself often refer to Victor’s creation as a “monster”, this essay seeks to investigate how the application of this word impacts Shelley’s work. While the Being assumes many monstrous characteristics, from his abnormal body–built from a conglomeration of parts–to his murderous behavior, he often shows a softer side, driven by human desire. However, individuals with whom the Being interacts with repeatedly reduce him to the role of a “monster”, unable to see past his form. The societal expectation of this assumption presses upon the Being, driving him to fulfill the role that others handed him. The Being’s fate demonstrates the danger in assigning labels: beyond diminishing our understanding of others, societal mores often force individuals to reduce themselves.