Is there such a thing as excusable evil?

One of the strongest themes of the novel is responsibility. Frankenstein, despite his attempts to catch and destroy the monster, never truly accepts responsibility for his creation. I would compare it to an unwanted pregnancy that is aborted instead of brought to term. This “child” that did not turn out how Frankenstein wanted must be destroyed instead of taught better. Frankenstein is too scared and panicked to take the kind of long-term responsibility he would need to accept the monster.

All of the language that Frankenstein uses to describe the monster is hate-filled. He calls it a demon, and he describes it in terms that one would use to describe such a being, with a “countenance [that] bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes” (112). Frankenstein is filled with “anger and hatred” and has only “words expressive of furious detestation and contempt” (112). Taken in the light of an unwanted child, Frankenstein seems to be both ashamed of himself, and disgusted by this unwanted creature.

If not compared to an abortion, I would connect it in biblical terms. In fact, the monster even tells Frankenstein, “I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed,” comparing Frankenstein to God, and he, the monster, to Frankenstein’s first creation (114). However, when he said, “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend,” I instead drew a connection with Satan (114). The monster is like a toned-down version of Lucifer, the beautiful angel who fell and became an evil creature spurning his creator.

I am linking two images: one of the classic Frankenstein monster, and the other a rendition of Satan by a Spanish artist.

The monster:


You will notice that Satan is depicted tearing off the limb of a human. This image has all the same horror that Frankenstein describes his monster as having. The monster kills innocents, though he presents the idea that he was born better.

In fact, both the monster and Lucifer chose to “fall.” Though the monster clearly describes what led him to this state, he ends up fully embracing his evil acts. He explains how he was driven to his evilness by Frankenstein’s refusal to act as a creator figure to him. So, is he justified in his actions? Can anything justify what he has become? He suffered the ultimate abandonment, and was never taught better… does this in some way excuse his actions? I would say no – a menace to society is a menace to society. And while Frankenstein is certainly a rephrensible figure in my mind for what he did – and, more accurately, failed to do – the monster is equally damned.

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