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Moral Ambiguity in Frankenstein

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Although each character goes through completely different experiences Alex’s, Meursault’s, and Victor’s moral ambiguity forces them each to make unethical decisions that destroy their own lives and those around them.

Due to his lack of morality, Alex acts in a violent and destructive manor that leads to multiple deaths and had the potential to destroy his own life and sanity. Alex feeds off of sex and violence, which in most cases is extremely unethical on its own. Alex has no fear for society’s standards therefore he acts without thinking. There are multiple instances through the novel where Alex asks the simple question “What’s it going to be then, eh?” (3.1.1) reflecting he is unable to distinguish right from wrong. Alex is extremely violent, demanding and offensive with his “droogs” Georgie, Pete, and Dim. All of his friends take a lot of heat from Alex because they know he is the so-called boss, the one in charge. When Alex feels threatened by Georgie over who should be a leader of their group, he attacks all of the droogs by physically punching and cutting them. After the incident Alex regains control and decides to cause even more havoc. He feels that the boys should break into an elderly women’s home. Alex rapes and kills the many women he encounters throughout the novel due to his lack of moral standards. Ultimately, these actions lead to his arrest during the altercation with the old woman. Alex has unfortunately “(deprived himself) of the ability to make an ethical choice” (2.3.13). Alex has reached a point at which he can no longer make the choice between good and evil.

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While most would commit a crime and chose to hide, Alex goes against the norm, and feels the need to express his feelings through music. His actions and interest in the music acts as an outward and positive seeming outlook on the horrible sins he commits. Alex has an obsession with classical music and has grown to associate his criminal activity with the music. Alex’s love of classical music is indivisible from his love of violence, and he rarely thinks of one without the other. Alex’s struggle with moral ambiguity intervenes with the government’s process to fix him. By using classical music to try to reverse his actions and temptations the government is attempting to get inside of his head and take the morally ambiguous character and turn him into a decent human being. Luckily for Alex and society he transforms by the end of the novel. As for his younger self, he is an extremely volatile character that destroyed many lives around him and had the potential to destroy his own.

Victor Frankenstein creates the creature using pieces of dead corpses. Although his cause and determination to create a blurred line between life and death the consequences were far worse than he could have ever imagined. Had Victor been able to make the moral decision in regards to his creation the story may not have unfolded in the gloomy way it did. Victor’s moral ambiguity for leaving his “child” and not upholding the proper responsibilities of a parent led to fatalities throughout the whole novel. It has been said “treat a person ill, and he will become wicked.” By abandoning the creature Victor leaves the creature to fend for himself and the creature turns to a life seeking revenge on his creator. The creature kills numerous characters and becomes what some would consider “wicked.” Unfortunately the creature was born with the mind of a baby so he does not know that his actions are turning him to a life of murder. When the creature says “My protectors had departed and had broken the only link that held me to the world…feelings of revenge…filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them,” (16.12) this is a direct response to Victor’s inability to make choices based on right from wrong because he left the creature. If Victor had moral standards he would not have left the creature alone and his family members would not have been killed. If you deprive someone from society then they will become selfish. Victor was extremely selfish by leaving the creature, therefore he is responsible for the deaths of Justine, Elizabeth, his brother etc. Victor made an extremely unethical decision by abandoning and neglecting his responsibilities of a parent because it caused the creature to act violently and seek revenge without knowing better. At several points in the novel Victor can even be considered the monster because it is his unethical decisions that cause the most trouble. Victor knows that he is “dependent on none and related to none” (15.5) yet is still unable to decipher between right from wrong. Victor had the choice once he created the creature of the path the two could go down. Victor did not choose a life of nature and care but life of isolation and destruction due to his moral ambiguity.

Right from the first page Meursault’s moral ambiguity stops him from showing compassion toward his own mother, even during the sad time of her passing. Meursault explains, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know”(1.1.1) which is completely immoral and unusual. A typical person would not have the same reaction to a passing. At a funeral there are certain moral standards that society has set in order to keep balance and normality. Meursault goes against every single one of these by smoking a cigarette, falling asleep, and by not shedding a tear he shows his distance and lack of care for his mother. He is considered an outsider, a stranger, to the rest of the characters and this leads him to treat people without the respect they deserve. Meursault was “surprised they all shook (his) hand … as a single word had somehow brought us closer together” (1.1.18) proving he is an outsider and has not made an effort before. It would be polite to care about making relationships with people but Meursault’s moral ambiguity stands in the way of his decision-making. When Marie asks him to marry her he is indifferent and acts as though nothing important or monumental is happening in his life. In Meursault’s eyes the truth is that everyone has to die eventually so why should he care? There is no right or wrong answer to Marie’s question according to Meursault so he asks as if it does not even matter. Meursault does not believe that love is anything important. What he does not understand is his honesty is overpowered by his ignorance and he cannot attach and maintain emotions with his actions and words.

After being sentenced to the death penalty Meursault even goes as far as to say that he wishes people surrounded him so they could watch. “I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate” (123). He is free to live in his own world away from the standards of society and the care that most people have. Death is inevitable according to Meursault so he has no fear and no drive to act in regards to right or wrong. His actions prove his indifference and he is happy knowing that his does not have to care.


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