Frankenstein

by: Mary Shelley

Parenthood

Quotes Parenthood
My mother’s tender caresses and my father’s smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me are my first recollections. I was their plaything and their idol and something better -- their child, the innocent and helpless monster bestowed on them by Heaven.

Victor speaks this quote as he recalls his happy and privileged childhood. He was deeply loved by his parents, and they understood that they had a natural responsibility to care for him. The quote ironically foreshadows Victor’s later behavior, since even though he was so well-cared for himself, he will completely fail at caring for the monster after he brings him into the world. The quote’s emphasis on him having two parents also hints at the possible value of a traditional family rather than the isolated reproduction Victor tries to pursue.

A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.

Victor speaks these lines while explaining what he hoped would result from his experiments. These lines make it clear that he did see himself as a parental figure, responsible for bringing new individuals into the world. However, he seemed interested only in the privileges of parenthood, not the responsibilities. He wanted to be respected and adored, but he did not reflect on the responsibilities and duties that would come with it. This narrow perspective shows Victor’s self-interest and lack of regard for others.

“Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy monster, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.”

The monster speaks these lines when he meets with Victor on the mountain peaks and is frustrated that Victor initially refuses to engage with him. The monster uses these lines to remind Victor of his responsibility and their shared destiny. He argues that whether or not Victor likes it, their relationship as creator and created means their fates are intertwined, and that Victor owes him at least the chance to tell his story and make his request.

Yet one of the first results of those sympathies for which the daemon thirsted would be children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth.

Victor reflects that if he does comply with the monster’s demand that he make him a female companion, the two monsters will likely reproduce. This assumption is interesting since the monster has spoken only about his desire for companionship, not necessarily sexuality, and certainly not reproduction. Victor makes assumptions based on his own preoccupations, and since he was fixated on generating new life, he assumes the monster will be as well. This fear of reproduction is a major reason why Victor turns away from his plan, and destroys the female monster before completing the project.