Frankenstein’s second monster is himself. And not for the most obvious reason. Yes, he was presumptuous and careless in his pursuit to create life. But it is what he does AFTER he succeeds that could arguably be his worst crime.
Frightened of his own creation as soon as it comes to life, Frankenstein bolts. He runs away and stays away, overcome by remorse. When he finally returns to his apartment, he finds the monster gone. At this point the true tragedy occurs.
He does nothing.
He rejoices to himself that his problem is “gone”. His selfishness lumbers large as he doesn’t give even a thought to his poor neighbors who might encounter the creature or what damage might befall them.
He also gives no thought to the needs of his unnatural child. He does not consider how it will eat, grow, and develop. Here Mary Shelly does a masterful job of entering the monster’s mind. Starving and lost, Frankenstein’s monster spends his “childhood” in a forest, searching desperately for food and trying to make sense of the world. He is gentle and curious–until he encounters his inevitable problems with humanity. It’s a tale of tragedy from there on out. The repercussions of Frankenstein’s selfishness reach its zenith in the destruction of both the creator and the created.
Who knew that a reading assignment for my teens could help me love my children more? Mary Shelly’s drop into the monster’s mind is so tender and empathetic that it gave me a much needed reminder of how dependent our children are on us. And not just for food and shelter, but for understanding, tenderness, and moral guidance. They need our support long past the unsteady steps of early childhood.
Suddenly, driving my boys to soccer practice did not seem like such a chore–or making that casserole AGAIN.
It’s funny to me that I found motherly inspiration in such an unlikely place. But I’ll take it wherever I can get it! More often, lately, I find myself asking…how selfish am I? And am I really looking out for them– heart, body, and soul? Motherhood is a marathon and it’s good to realize how important we are to those dependent on us. It’s a long journey and keeping perspective is half the work!
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9