A call to turn a blind eye

Shelley uses the old man De Lacey as a literary tool of a character who turns a blind eye (literally) to the monster’s appearance. The use of conversation between the blind man and the monster is the example of what humanity should be modeled after. The blind man represents an ethical model of response, as he remains unprejudiced and compassionate to the horrifying sight (or lack there of) of the monster. The responses modeled by the rest of the De Lacey family and Victor both counteract the accepting nature of the blind man and emphasize the dehumanization of the monster’s character caused by the disgust-filled reactions. Shelley’s use of contradicting responses encourages the reader to reflect on morality and ethics.

The Old Man symbolizes the ideal way that human nature should react in regards to appearance and dissimilarity. I believe Shelley is attempting to emphasize the emotional repercussions of preconceptions and the importance of accepting others regardless of their outer appearance. De Lacey states that he “is blind, and cannot judge [the monster] of [his] countenance… you are sincere” (page 147). Due to the monster being accepted for the first time in his existence, this immediately creates a sense of relief for him as he is finally receiving what he has always wanted- acceptance.  The common struggle of both characters being subject to judgement and condemnation allows for the monster to feel relatable and the empathy creates a sense of humanization (148).

In contrast, as the other De Lacys arrive, the monster’s connection with his sole acceptor is completely demolished due to their fearful and violent reaction. Felix “struck violently with a stick” and completely degraded the monster (148). Through this horrifying reaction, Shelley is conveying the violence that is entangled in judgement and is encouraging readers with the brutal imagery to understand the wrongfulness in judgement. Due to the reaction of fainting and beating, the monster is “overcome with pain and anguish,” totally dehumanizing him and reverting back to his original state of feeling unaccepted and hopeless (148).

Just as the De Laceys rejected the monster, Victor, too, shuts down the request of a mate. A mate for the monster would help him feel accepted and loved, perhaps humanizing him, yet the initial rejection proves that Victor, once again, is blocking the monster’s opportunity for acceptance. The monster claims that Victor is refusing to give him the “only benefit that can soften [his] heart”, which forces a sense of compassion and sympathy towards the monster (156). In turn, the reader is led to feel judgement toward Victor’s response, as he is refusing the monster’s innate need for compassion and relatability.

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