In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, families are a very important part of the structure of the novel. Frankenstein’s family is critical because the reason why the monster was created lies within the family. Almost every family mentioned in the novel was either incomplete or troubled. Frankenstein’s family in particular was missing a female role. The Frankenstein family had a mother but she died from sickness, but they did have Elizabeth who was the only other female in the house and she was adopted when she was just a child. The monster was created because of this absence, not necessarily to fill the role of the mother, but to fill in the role of the missing family member. However, the monster is shunned away when he is created and the fall of the Frankenstein family awaits them.
Victor Frankenstein’s family was common to begin with. He had a mother and a father, but later on when Elizabeth becomes sick with a fever, his mother nurses her back to health at the cost of her own life. On her deathbed, Victor’s mom says, “Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place to my younger children, Alas I regret that I am taken from you; and, happy and beloved as I have been, is it not hard a hope of meeting you in another world”(33). Elizabeth shortly after her mother’s death has to take up the mother role for the younger children in the family by caring and protecting for them. Even though she fills in the role of a mom there still a sense of a family member missing because a mother is impossible to replace and because of that void in the family, Victor uses the knowledge he learned in Ingolstadt to create a being to fill in that void left by his mother in the family.
In the second half of the novel the perspective of family is viewed through the eyes of the monster when he comes across the De Lacey family. He examines the family through the hole of their home and begins to learn how a family should act and how they encourage support, and love one another. As time goes on the monster is astonished by the simple actions that the family employ like lighting candles during the night, playing music with the guitar, and teaching Safie how to speak French.
Later in the story we see that for some unknown reason Safie’s father, a Turkish merchant who had been a businessman in Paris for many years, falls into dispute that Mary Shelley does not make clear to the reader. It is suggested that he became paranoid toward strangers and foreigners and that led him to attack authorities. After this his property is taken away, and he is thrown into prison to stand trial. Shelley’s point here is that the monster is telling this story about the injustice that the De Lacey family has to endure. Thus, giving the monster the idea that he’s not the only one who has suffered from an injustice.
The reason that the De Lacey’s are so intriguing to the monster is that he wants to have a family of his own because Victor will not acknowledge the fact that the monster is a part of his family. Due to this neglect that the monster feels from Victor he wants revenge on the members of the Frankenstein family. But that hatred from the monster is only there because Victor fails to accept and love the creature for who he is and by doing this causes his own demise later on in the novel.
Then there is Mary Shelley analysis of the value of friendship in Frankenstein which is shown through Victor, Walton and the Monster. All three desire a companion to fall back on in a time of misery to console with, or to learn from. Throughout the novel Victor is found to heavily depend on friendship whenever tragedy strikes to keep himself from going insane. Walton desire for friendship is to find a man who shares the same values as he does and to have someone he can sympathize with. Then there is the Monster whose sole purpose for friendship is to find a companion to comprehend with so that he doesn’t feel like an outcast to society. All three characters don’t desire to be alone but when any one of them becomes isolated they cannot function properly and are driven into insanity.
Victor handles tragedy by confiding in the comfort of friends to better his spirits. After Victor’s creation of the monster he goes into a state of pain and gult which he states, I passed the night wretchedly (50). In the making of the monster, Victor has been isolated for a long time. He becomes disgusted, angry, and sickened after the monster’s birth and has never felt true horror or terror such as this in his life. Shortly after this he is visited by Clerval who is able to change his emotions which Victor states, But I was in reality very ill; and surely nothing but the unbounded and unremitting attentions of my friend could have restored me to life. Victor becomes elated at the arrival of his friend and begins to have flashbacks of his home and family from Clerval. He finds comfort from the pain and gult because he can rely on Clerval as a friend to fall back on in a time of need. Through Clerval’s help Victor is able to return to his previous self and shortly after considers Clerval as his dearest friend.
In conclusion Mary Shelley values of friendship and family are very important morals that are expanded on in Frankenstein. The importance of family and friends are huge in society because without them we have no moral code or compass to guide us through life. Family will always be there when at your lowest and friends will always be there to help because they understand better than most. Due to these values It allows us to better sympathize and understand how Victor, Walton, and the Monster function in each of their lives during the novel.