The Real Villain in "Frankenstein": a Moral Dilemma

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Victor Frankenstein: The Ambitious Creator
  • The Creature: The Product of Neglect
  • The Society's Role: Fear and Prejudice
  • Conclusion


Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein" is a timeless tale that raises profound questions about the nature of villainy and the consequences of human actions. It is a narrative that blurs the lines between creator and creation, challenging our perceptions of who the real villain is in this tragic story. In this essay, we will explore the complexities surrounding the question of the real villain in "Frankenstein" by examining the actions and motivations of Victor Frankenstein, the Creature, and the society in which they exist.

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Victor Frankenstein: The Ambitious Creator

Victor Frankenstein, the novel's protagonist, is the creator of the Creature. At first glance, he may not seem like a villain, but upon closer examination, his actions reveal a profound moral failing. Victor's relentless pursuit of knowledge and ambition drive him to cross ethical boundaries and tamper with the natural order. His decision to create life from dead body parts demonstrates a reckless disregard for the consequences of his actions.

Victor's creation of the Creature is an act of scientific hubris. He usurps the role of a divine creator, bringing a being into the world without considering its welfare or providing the guidance and nurturing it needs. Instead, he abandons the Creature, leading to the isolation and suffering that ultimately turn the Creature into a vengeful figure.

Furthermore, Victor's refusal to take responsibility for his creation's actions compounds his moral transgressions. He is fully aware of the devastation the Creature causes but does nothing to stop it or mitigate the harm. His inaction and avoidance of accountability make him culpable for the suffering the Creature inflicts.

The Creature: The Product of Neglect

The Creature, often referred to as "Frankenstein's Monster," is a complex character whose actions evoke both sympathy and fear. While the Creature commits heinous acts, it is essential to consider the circumstances that lead to its transformation into a villain.

Initially, the Creature is a blank slate, devoid of malice. It is the rejection and mistreatment it experiences from Victor, as well as society's prejudiced and fearful response to its appearance, that drive it to seek revenge. The Creature's acts of violence are born out of a deep sense of isolation, abandonment, and a desire for companionship.

The Creature's request for a female companion is an attempt to alleviate its loneliness and find meaning in life. When Victor destroys the female Creature he had promised to create, he seals the fate of the original Creature. In response, the Creature resorts to violence as a desperate means of gaining retribution and power.

It is crucial to recognize that the Creature's actions are driven by a sense of profound injustice. It is not inherently evil but rather a product of its tragic circumstances and the rejection it faces from its creator and society at large.

The Society's Role: Fear and Prejudice

The society depicted in "Frankenstein" plays a significant role in shaping the events of the novel. It is a society marked by fear, prejudice, and a tendency to vilify the Other. When the Creature is first encountered by humans, its appearance triggers immediate revulsion and violence. This reaction sets the tone for the Creature's subsequent interactions with society.

Society's rejection of the Creature is a reflection of its narrow-mindedness and inability to accept differences. The Creature's isolation and lack of acceptance drive it to become increasingly hostile and resentful. The society's collective fear and prejudice contribute to the creation of the villainous persona the Creature adopts.

Additionally, society's failure to address the root causes of the Creature's suffering and violence perpetuates the cycle of tragedy. Rather than examining its own role in the Creature's transformation, society chooses to label it a monster and a threat, further alienating and isolating the Creature.


The question of who the real villain is in "Frankenstein" is a moral dilemma that transcends easy categorization. Victor Frankenstein's ambition and abandonment, the Creature's transformation and quest for vengeance, and society's fear and prejudice all contribute to the tragic narrative.

Victor's moral failing as a creator, coupled with the Creature's isolation and society's rejection, creates a web of interrelated actions and consequences. It is a narrative that challenges us to examine the complexities of moral responsibility and the consequences of our actions on others.

In the end, the true villain of "Frankenstein" may not be a single character but rather a reflection of the darker aspects of human nature—the consequences of unchecked ambition, the cruelty of abandonment, and the destructive power of fear and prejudice. The novel serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of compassion, empathy, and ethical responsibility in the face of the unknown and the different.

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