Victor Frankenstein: The Real Monster
Halloween is coming and along with it are movies, decorations, costumes and ghost stories. One of my favorite spooky tales is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Before I read the novel I thought Frankenstein was the name of the monster, as portrayed in movies and cartoons. The ironic part is that the "monster" who was created (big green guy with a flat head) was not the monster at all: the man who created him was...Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein began after being a part of a friendly competition to see who could write the scariest story between such famous Romantic Era authors such as Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. Out of this competition came the birth of a historical story that would continue on through the ages long after Mary Shelley's passing.
For those who may not be as familiar with the story as I am, you may be a little confused as to why I bring it up at all. Well, I think the story has many parallels with mental health and an interesting view of what really makes a monster. I truly believe, it may be because I'm bipolar, that every person has two sides: good and evil, mischievous and righteous, happy and sad. Mine might be a little more defined due to my mental illness but I think all people struggle with this imbalance until there is a balance met. Unfortunately, most do not meet this balance without some sort of consequence. For instance, Dr. Frankenstein was overrun with selfish pride and corruption. He challenged God himself. He was proudly and blasphemously determined to create life and although he achieved his goal his consequences were far greater than his successes.
You see, after Dr. Frankenstein created the first man made man he realized what he had done. He was absolutely terrified of his creation and instantly regretted his sinful perversions of nature. He literally brought a man to life, a man with no knowledge of the world, a symbolic infant, and left him alone to fend for himself. Dr. Frankenstein fled right after bringing the "monster" to life. Complete abandonment.
The "monster" started to look at the world around him. He was scared and alone. He was absolutely neglected by any type of God or parent figure. He was gentle. He was curious and confused. During his first explorations he came upon a fire in the woods. He was cold and hungry...not knowing what either meant but he yearned to make them stop. He felt heat from the fire and immediately plunged his hand in it for warmth. He was burned, of course, and the thought that he had was, how could something that made me feel so good hurt me so bad? This thought is something that those who have survived abuse understand. Parents, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends...how can something that makes us feel so good, hurt us so bad?
Frankenstein's monster was not violent until he was rejected by a family that he watched for months, years maybe, learning from them and wanting to be a part of their warmth....but in the end, when he presented himself to them, he was shunned and cast out. I have felt like this. I have felt as though my mental health was alright until I was deeply hurt by the people I loved the most. That is what makes a monster. Isolation, betrayal and abandonment. People can start off pure, like Frankenstein's "monster", but after so much hurt and pain a person can turn into a real monster, hating themselves and everyone around them. So remember that not everyone with a mental illness started off that way. Some of us were born with monsters in our heads while others were made monsters by the real evil of the world, man himself.