Responsibility: Victor or His Creation?

Frequently in the novel Frankenstein, Shelley presents the idea of Victor’s responsibility with respect to his creation. Earlier in the reading, we discussed Victor’s responsibility to the monster, but near the end, we are presented with the question of Victor’s responsibility for his creation’s actions, particularly the death of his loved ones. Victor definitely considered himself responsible for their deaths. He carried a heavy weight of guilt on his shoulders for the deaths and so much so that he made himself sick. I believe that one of the driving forces in Victor’s pursuit to kill the monster was guilt, along with anger and grief.

The question of whether Victor is responsible for his creature’s actions or not is one that has two strong opposing arguments. Automatically, my logic says, “yes.” The monster is the result of Victor’s actions and, therefore, the result of the monster’s action is also Victor’s fault. As a chemist, when one of my reactions goes wrong, such as an explosion or overflow occurs, it is my fault. Nobody blames the chemicals. This leads me to ask myself, “Why do I not blame the chemicals? After all, their interactions are what caused the disaster to happen.” Well, the chemicals are not in control of themselves; the scientist is in control of the experiment through setting parameters for the reaction to safely occur. Because of this, the scientist is blamed.

Does the same apply to Victor? One could argue that it does not. Yes, Victor was the scientist who made the monster, but he didn’t make a generally inanimate entity; he made life. He made a creature who can think and learn. He brought about a creature who has the ability to think for himself. The monster decided to kill William, Clerval, and Elizabeth. Do we blame a murderer’s parents for his actions? No, the murderer is the one who goes to jail.

The topic of Victor’s responsibility is not a black and white argument. I think that Victor should feel guilty for his creation’s actions. I would also argue that he should feel especially guilty for the deaths of Justine and his father as those were not directly at the hand of the monster. Victor is the one who gave life and those actions would not have occurred had he not made his creation. However, because the monster clearly has decision making capabilities, he is ultimately responsible for the murders

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