Social commentary is a comment on the society, but, in most cases, it is a criticism. Just like any other piece of art, Marry Shelly’s book said a lot about the society it was based on. It did not offer a direct commentary as her work is about the fictitious monster created by the character of Victor Frankenstein.
A plot summary of the book shows Frankenstein being rescued by Captain Walton. Frankenstein then narrates his story, his early life, and family including his obsession with his adopted cousin Elizabeth. Frankenstein was a science freak and went to IngolstadtUniversity in Germany to study science; he was obsessed with the idea of galvanism and bringing the dead to life; that is why he created an 8 feet tall monster. However, Frankenstein was disgusted by his creation and ran away only to find that the monster is gone. The monster, sensing hatred from his creator, goes on a revenge mission.
The monster kills Frankenstein’s brother, his friend, and his wife. Frankenstein set his mind on destroying the monster, because it had killed everybody who was dear to him. Frankenstein’s mission was no really a success, because he ended up in the North Pole almost freezing to death in pursuit of the monster, but he was rescued by Walton. Frankenstein dies shortly after; surprisingly, the monster is saddened that his creator is dead and goes deep into the North Pole probably to end its life.
The book is full of themes such as revenge, science, life and consciousness, secrecy, monstrosity, loss, and danger of playing God. Things went wrong when Frankenstein abandoned his creature; it had done nothing wrong yet to be left by his creator. The creature possessed conscience and moral values, but the society made him a monster.
The monster craves to be accepted by the society. When he stole the cottager’s store and realized he was suffering, guilt made him abstain from doing wrong. He learned to live by the cottagers’ emotions; once they were happy, the monster was happy too. The monster, out of the ridicule and rejection he faced, turned into a vicious brute. After killing William, he later explained to Frankenstein why he did it. He said that once he found William in the woods, he thought such a small child would not be repulsed by his deformity, but the child screamed giving him no choice.
In addition, he did that in order to hurt his creator, because he rejected him. The society judges people based on physical looks and their past habits or mistakes without giving them a chance. If Frankenstein had accepted the monster he created, he would have avoided all those bad things he had to go through. We cannot blame the monster for the bad things he did, because he did them out of sheer anger and bitterness.
Frankenstein created a monster and gave it life. He was entering a zone where human beings should not step in, because ideally, that is God’s role. Frankenstein was not prepared to take what would come with the creature. After seeing how disgusting the creature was, Frankenstein actually got sick. The monster is a symbol of the technological advances in our society; people venture into creating things that might end up being the cause of their downfall because once they are created, people cannot handle them.
Mary Shelley’s book is indeed intriguing giving us valuable life lessons as it highlights the themes of relationship, love, and loss. The desire to belong is shown when the monster says “Other lessons were impressed upon me even more deeply. I heard of the difference of sexes; of the birth and growth of children; how the father doated on the smiles of the infant... But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days; no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses” (Shelly 132). This indicates a criticism on the society for creating something and not accepting it.