Published 01 Sep 2016
Table of content
Frankenstein’s Story of Friendships
Frankenstein is a novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in 1818. The story revolved around the life of Frankenstein and his monster that he created to fulfill his dream of acquiring scientific glory. Victor Frankenstein got his education in Ingolstadt where he specialized in science through his devoted professor M. Waldman. As a person, he was surrounded by people who loved him dearly; in spite of that, he was weak to face the consequence of his action that cost the lives of his dearly loved.
All throughout the story, many people played important roles that were important to bring out the essence of the story. Despite incidents of murder and evil-inspired motives, the story of Frankenstein implied goodness and kindness that may have changed Frankenstein if he only realized. Significantly, many of the characters played the role of being true and faithful friends; it is probably what the young Wollstonecraft was longing for in her life.
The Father of Frankenstein and his friend Beaufort
In the first chapter of the book, Frankenstein, the main character of the novel, described the friendship that his father had for Beaufort that he noted: “truest friendship” (Wollstonecraft, p. 25). Both Frankenstein’s father and Beaufort were merchants and because of that, both gained the respect of the people in their place. On the other hand, Beaufort, his best friend encountered the problem that he had to give up his possession. He succumbed to poverty that he retreated and found another place for him and his daughter. Beaufort could not accept his fate and his attitude had worsened his condition, which he could not bear anymore for he was a proud man.
Wollstonecraft described the father’s attachment to his friend as something unusual because it is stated that the father “loved Beaufort with the truest friendship” (p. 25). The father made a lot of effort to find him that he even mourned over the separation condemning the negative attitude that overran his friend. The father did not waste any time to seek his whereabouts until he found Beaufort after ten months who was in a desperate condition. Worst, Beaufort was ill and died after another ten months. The father took Beaufort’s daughter Caroline to his house and became his wife after two years; Frankenstein was their first son. (p. 27).
Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval
Victor met Henry in school whom he considered as one of his closest friends. He described Henry as a person with many talents and good character and their friendship full of happy moments (p. 31). Henry was there and wanted to accompany him as he was about to leave to pursue his studies. Henry spent the whole night with him and “he bitterly lamented” for not allowing by his father to accompany him (p. 40).
Their friendship was not ruined by the distance that the next time they saw each other both exclaimed in gladness and great joy. This meeting unexpectedly after Victor created a monster in Ingolstadt, brought back his consciousness and felt the calmness and serene joy (p. 63). In fact, their reunion was marked by a deep affection for each other; Victor stated, “But his affection for me at length overcame his dislike of learning, and he has permitted me to undertake a voyage of discovery to the land of knowledge” (p. 63.).
Henry had even stayed with Victor during the winter while looking after him while on his bed until he recovered from his sickness. In the letter, Henry constantly informed Victor’s family about his condition. He went with him and stayed with him even during the most troublesome part of his life until his death inflicted by the monster.
Henry and Victor’s emotional attachment was more than being real brothers; theirs were of deeper sympathy and true sacrifices for the sake of the other. Although Victor became really unfair to Henry for not saving his life, Henry’s was genuine that whatever happened to Victor he was totally worried and restless if he could not extend his hand to him or be with him in his problem. Henry treated Victor’s family as his own family.
Victor and Waldman
Victor met Waldman in the university and after some time being together he remarked, “In M. Waldman I found a true friend” (p. 48). Victor described Waldman as gentle, frank, good natured, and amiable. Waldman was a professor in that university specializing in science. Despite social status in life, he became emotionally attached to Waldman because he taught him like his own son and friend the value and essence of science. Waldman was the instrument that aroused his inclination to science and his love for discovering life in nature.
His admiration of Waldman grew increasingly that he could not help but to pay a visit to this professor every now and then. Waldman in his description was that this man had “affability and kindness” in his private moments (p. 45). In return, Waldman treated him like his disciple and he was greatly honored to have him as a disciple in which he stated, “… your application equals your ability” (p. 46). The professor even allowed him to use his library for more scientific discovery in the future.
Waldman’s manner of friendship with Victor was more on teacher and student in such a way that he focused solely on what Victor could do. He always challenged Victor to do exceedingly big discovery about science. This probably drove him to create a creature like this monster.
Justine and Elizabeth
Justine and Elizabeth’s friendship was even romantic than the friendship shared between Victor and Henry. A revision of the novel by Shelley and Smith described the friendship as romantic in its purest form (p. 359). It was not to describe lesbian continuum though Elizabeth uttered “Justine as very clever and gentle, and extremely pretty” (Shelley, p. 73) that she wished to die with Justine because of she “cannot live in this world with misery” (Shelley, p 108). Justine, on the other hand, uttered “Farewell, sweet lady, dearest Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend; may Heaven, in its bounty, bless and preserve you” (Shelley, p. 108). Elizabeth was a true friend to Justine because she was convinced of her innocence throughout the trial that she remained believing her confession openly in front of the judges.
This kind of friendship goes between two women as intimacy develops. Faderman affirmed this; according to him, Elizabeth and Justine “do not express jealousy, display anxiety about the beloved’s reciprocation of the lover’s feeling, or hope to spend their lives together” (qt in Shelley & Smith, p. 359). Furthermore, Shelley and Smith argue that this is a romantic friendship because the two women belonged to two different classes because was a servant. Also, these statements were uttered because Justine was at the last minute of her life. Their friendship was unusual considering the culture where they live that no two persons from two different social classes can become good friends, which happened to them.
Justine Moritz in that story was rejected by her own family, was adopted by Frankenstein’s auntie; and was orphaned at age twelve. Because of this, she became a servant in Frankenstein’s house. Justine was unfortunate that he was accused of killing William, Frankenstein’s own brother, and was about to receive her execution that day. William was murdered by the monster.
To analyze, the story of Frankenstein is not a story of murder and evil, rather it is a story of true friendships. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley emphasized here how friendship is really like and how friendship should be in the capacity of the human being to perceive. In that sense, there are only few who can say that they are “true friends.” Indeed, she implied that true friend is easy to find as he was surrounded by friends with amiable characters. Perhaps Victor was a true friend himself.
True friends are self-sacrificing and affectionate; true friends are confident and trusting; never jealous nor envious. Friends to get to the heart of the story are as precious as jewels; they are to be cherished that at their absence is such a big lost because no one could replace their presence.
The monster in the story was in need of friends. He told Walton after the death of Victor that he still “…desired love and fellowship” (Shelley, p. 366) that was withheld by the only person who could give him – Victor. The creature was in great agony that he killed the people whom he thought closest to the heart of Victor. Out of envy and despair, it killed them.
Shelley had a good point for emphasizing that people desire to love and fellowship that could be satisfied by real friends.
- Shelley, M.W. (1818 Text). Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus.
- Shelley, M.W. & Smith, J.M. (2000). Frankenstein. USA: Palgrave Macmillan.