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Beau Boulton

Free Will in Frankenstein


Free will is a common theme all throughout Mary Shelleys
Frankenstein. And the idea of free will is ever evolving all throughout the
novel. Victor himself shifts from believing his free will is what caused all his
troubles, to musing on the mutability of the world, to having his own free
taken away from him by the monster and his insatiable drive to destroy it. An
even more interesting struggle with free will, however, is that of
Frankensteins creature. In Mary Shellys Frankenstein, the struggle with free
will is a common theme exemplified by the creatures personal struggle with
it.
Frankensteins creature believes it was born into the world with nothing
but free will, but that his persecution by mankind robbed him of it. The
creature states that vice has degraded [him] beneath the meanest animal,
(189). The mistreatment and misery he suffered turned him into a monster,
forced him to commit atrocities he was born not wanting to commit. The
creature then accepted that he could never find sympathy, and resolved that
as the world robbed him of his free will, he so would rob Frankenstein of that
same luxury. The creature declared when I discovered that [Victor] sought
his own enjoyment in feelings and passions from the indulgence of which I
was for ever barred I recollected my threat, (188). He wouldnt allow his
creator the freedom he himself was denied, and so he made good on his
earlier threat to kill all those whom Victor loved, taking away all of his

purpose in life, and therefore his free will. In the pursuit to take away Victors
free will, however, the monster was embarking on a journey which would
further deny himself any free will. I was the slave, not the master of an
impulse, which I detested, but could not disobey, (188). The monster knew
from the moment he decided to destroy Frankensteins free will, that he
himself had no free will in the matter, and that this was a task that would
fully consume him, as he had no other purpose in life. In the end, Victor
Frankensteins pursuit of his creation, and the creatures own quest to lead
Victor on, became their only goal in life, neither could ever will themselves
deviate from it. Victor pursued his monster until the end of his life. Once
Victor was dead, the monster no longer had any purpose to draw him on, and
he decided to die as well. Such is the struggle with free will that the creature
suffered. And this struggle was displayed all throughout Frankenstein,
exemplifying the concept of free will itself.

Works Cited
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

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