|“||If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!||„|
|~ The Frankenstein Monster's most well-known quote.|
|“||I have love in me the likes in which you can scarcely imagine, and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.||„|
|~ The Monster announcing his goal.|
Frankenstein's Monster is the main antagonist of the novel Frankenstein by the late Mary Shelley and its many adaptations. He was created in 1816 and made his debut on January 1, 1818. Although he had surprisingly immense powers of speech in the original novel, most adaptations limit, otherwise completely omit, his speaking capabilities. Although at first glance appearing generally intimidating, for the most part the creature was initially a very gentle and sweet soul before turning to villainy out of anger for how the world treats him.
The character has been portrayed by several actors over the years, including:
- The late Charles Stanton Ogle in the 1910 silent movie Frankenstein.
- Robert De Niro (who also played the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, David "Noodles" Aaronson in Once Upon a Time in America, Louis Cyphre in Angel Heart, Al Capone in The Untouchables, Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, Dwight Hansen in This Boy's Life, Max Cady in Cape Fear, Neil McCauley in Heat, Gil Renard in The Fan, Ace Rothstein in Casino, Louis Gara in Jackie Brown, Fearless Leader in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Don Lino in Shark Tale, David Callaway in Hide & Seek and Senator John McLaughlin in Machete) played a version of the character in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that is arguably the most faithful to the novel.
- The late Bela Lugosi in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (who also played Dracula in the Universal films).
- The late Sir Christopher Lee in The Curse of Frankenstein (who also played Count Dracula in the Hammer Films Dracula films, Fu Manchu in Hammer's Fu Manchu series, Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, King Haggard in The Last Unicorn, Cushing Catheter in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Saruman in Sir Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel films, and The Jabberwock in Alice in Wonderland.
- Jonny Lee Miller (who also played Sick Boy in Trainspotting and Jordan Chase in Dexter) and Benedict Cumberbatch (who also played Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness, William Ford in 12 Years a Slave, Sauron and Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy, Dormammu in Doctor Strange, Shere Khan in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and The Grinch in the 2018 film of the same name) starred in a West End production of Frankenstein in which they alternated between playing Frankenstein and the Monster.
- Spencer Wilding (who also played a White Walker in Game of Thrones, Grand Marshal Skaldak in Doctor Who, Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Luca Brasi in Men in Black: International) in Victor Frankenstein
The Monster made his first appearance in the 1818 novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. He is described as having wrinkled skin which barely covered his blood vessels, black lips, black hair, and yellow eyes. He was created on a rainy November night in the late 18th century Ingolstadt, Germany, by the medical student Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein is so horrified by his creation that he flees the house, leaving the Monster alone and unaware of who or what he is. The Monster takes a jacket to clothe himself and eventually wanders off into the wild. He spends a lengthy period of time learning to survive. Any humans he comes across are so frightened by his appearance that they run from him, just as Frankenstein had done.
The Monster eventually takes up abode in a small hovel that abuts a cottage. He listens to the inhabitants, the De Lacey family, through a hole in the wall and learns to speak and read from their example. His first reading materials are several books that he finds in a castoff suitcase, including the works of John Milton, Plutarch, and Johann Wilhelm Goethe. The Monster also reads a series of papers that he has found in his jacket, which turns out to be Frankenstein's notes.
Through these, he discovers his origins and learns that Frankenstein lives in Geneva, Switzerland. The Monster grows to love the De Laceys during his time as their "neighbor" and decides to reveal himself to the blind father while his grown children are out. However, the children return and discover him with their father, and drive him from the house. Enraged at how the whole of humanity has treated him, the Monster sets fire to the cottage, killing the entire De Lacey family, and swears revenge on Frankenstein for bringing him into a world that hates him.
He travels to Geneva, where he manages to save a beautiful young girl from drowning. However, he is shot by the girl's father, who mistakenly thinks her is trying to hurt her. A few weeks after his wounds heal, he meets a young boy and tries to befriend him. The boy, Frankenstein's brother William, shrieks that he will send his father, Judge Frankenstein, after him. Upon learning that the boy is a Frankenstein, the Monster strangles him to death and takes a wallet, which contains a portrait of Frankenstein's mother. The Monster moves on and finds a young woman asleep in a barn. On an evil impulse, the Monster places the locket on her person, effectively framing her for William's murder. It is only after the police arrest her that the Monster realizes that she is Justine Moritz, the Frankensteins' servant. Justine is found guilty of William's murder and hanged.
In order to collect his thoughts, Frankenstein ascends into the Alps. The Monster confronts him there and pressures him into creating a female creature so he can have a mate; he promises that if he is given this, he will disappear and never trouble humanity again. Frankenstein agrees and travels to Scotland, where he begins the process of creating a female. The Monster follows him and watches with eager anticipation. At the last minute, however, Frankenstein decides not to go through with it, fearing that giving the Monster a mate will result in the propagation of a race of inhuman, undead creatures. The enraged Monster swears to Frankenstein that he will be with him on his wedding night. True to his word, the Monster kills Frankenstein's new bride, Elizabeth LaVenza, as well as his best friend, Henry Clerval; he is also indirectly responsible for the death of Frankenstein's father, who dies of grief after Elizabeth's body is found.
Now with nothing to live for, Frankenstein swears vengeance and pursues the Monster to the Arctic, where he falls into the freezing waters and is picked up by a ship heading for the North Pole. Frankenstein tells his story to the expedition's leader, then dies of pneumonia. The Monster shows up not long after to gloat over Frankenstein's lifeless body, but upon seeing his creator dead it is overcome with remorse, for the only man who had ever really known the creature is now dead and the monster is truly alone in the human world. He announces that he will reach the Pole and destroy himself on a funeral pyre, swearing that at least he would be happy by being killed. He jumps from the ship and disappears into the distance.
Mary Shelly's Frankenstein
This version of the story is the most faithful adaptation; however, there are still a few differences.
After the death of his beloved mother, Genovese medical student Victor Frankenstein becomes obsessed with reanimating dead people as a means of "curing" death. His ideas are considered blasphemous by his professors and the majority of his classmates. Frankenstein finds some support in his best friend Henry Clerval and his teacher Professor Waldman, the latter of whom had actually performed such experiments himself that ended in "abominations". Waldman is soon murdered by a thief, however.
Frankenstein assembles the equipment he needs to create his creature, including glass pipes and electrical conductors, and set about stealing from cemeteries for "raw materials". He uses the corpse of Waldman's recently executed murderer as his the main source of material, and implanted Waldman's brain in his head to make the creation intelligent. He also takes from cemeteries, "bits of thieves, bits of murderers," unwittingly giving the Monster a lust for violence.
One night, Frankenstein puts his experiment into action, running electricity via a lightning storm through the inert body, imbuing it with life. The Monster begins flailing wildly, and Frankenstein has to restrain his eight-foot tall creation, putting him in chains.
That night, the Monster approaches the sleeping Frankenstein, and startles him into awakening. Terrified by the Monster's hideous appearance, Frankenstein beats him with a rifle and kicks him out of the apartment. Frightened and confused, the Monster dresses himself in a black cloak and hood and roams the streets of Ingolstadt. The Monster tries to forage for food, but the townspeople drive him away into the forest, believing that he has the Plague.
The Monster later finds a poor family in the Alps and hides in their cellar. The Monster anonymously brings them food, and learns to speak and read from listening to them and reading books from their library. One day, the family's blind grandfather senses the Monster's presence and invites him inside. The grandfather is kind to him, but the rest of the family are repelled by his appearance and drive him away. He then finds Frankenstein's journal in his cloak pocket, and learns of his origin. He sets fire to the family's cabin, and swears revenge on Frankenstein for bringing him into a world that hates him.
Setting out to Geneva, the Monster soon meets William Frankenstein, Victor's younger brother, in the woods. Upon realizing that William is related to his hated creator, the Monster flies into a rage and strangles the boy. The Frankenstein family's maid, Justine, is hanged for the crime. Frankenstein meets with the Monster, aware that he killed William, and tries to kill him. The Monster subdues him, however, and asks his creator to make a female creature to be his mate, promising to disappear with her and never trouble mankind again. Frankenstein reluctantly agrees, but soon forsakes the project, horrified by the idea of the Monster and his "bride" creating a race of creatures like them. Enraged, the Monster declares that, if Frankenstein denies him his wedding night, he will be with Frankenstein on his.
Sure enough, the Monster breaks into Frankenstein's house on his wedding night and kills his bride, Elizabeth, by tearing her heart out of her chest. The Monster gloats to a heartbroken Frankenstein that he had fulfilled his promise, and vanishes into the night. The Monster is still determined to have his mate, however, so when Frankenstein resurrects Elizabeth as an undead creature, the Monster demands that Frankenstein give her to him. Both his and Frankenstein's dreams are crushed, however, when Elizabeth commits suicide after seeing her now-hideous reflection.
The Monster then flees to the Arctic, with Frankenstein in pursuit. Frankenstein falls into the Arctic waters during his pursuit, but is saved by a passing ship. Frankenstein tells his story to the ship's captain, Walton, and dies of pneumonia. Walton and his crew build a funeral pyre for Frankenstein, and the Monster attends Frankenstein's service, crying for the loss of the only family he has ever known. Suddenly, the ice breaks, and the sailors all run to board the ship. Walton begs the Monster to come with them, but the Monster declares that he is "done with man" and swam off to the ice pack, taking the torch with him. He gets on Frankenstein's pyre, stands beside his creator's dead body, and drops the torch, allowing the flames to consume both of them.
In this silent movie, the creature appears as an imperfect clone, being grown in a vat of chemicals rather than being stitched together from body parts. However, it turns out to be a mere physical manifestation of Victor Frankenstein's own subconscious. It is portrayed as being evil, sadistic, and taking pleasure in taunting his creator, lacks the sympathetic backstory, and physically looks like a misshapen human/orangutan hybrid. He was portrayed by the late Charles Stanton Ogle.
The Frankenstein Papers
In his 1986 novel The Frankenstein Papers, Fred Saberhagen reinterprets Shelley's original novel. In this conception, Victor Frankenstein's experiments were funded by the wealthy and immoral Robert Saville (who was responsible for the bulk of the murders attributed to the Monster), who is interested in using Frankenstein's science to produce a more durable form of slave for use in American and Caribbean plantations.
In this novel, however, the Monster is not Frankenstein's creation, but an extraterrestrial named Osak Larkas, who has been covertly observing Earth's advancing civilization. The electrical signals given off by Frankenstein's apparatus attract Larkas' attention, so he stealthily hides his conveyance and approaches the laboratory. Once inside, lightning strikes the house, and Larkas is knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he cannot remember who he is, and comes to believe that Frankenstein created him, thus setting in motion their deadly conflict.
In the TV series Penny Dreadful, Frankenstein's Monster is characterized as the creation of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who shuns him shortly after his "birth". Upon venturing out into the streets of London, the Monster is chased off by an angry mob. He takes refuge with Victor Brand, an elderly, gay actor who takes pity on him as a fellow outcast. Brand teaches the Monster to speak by reading him poetry, and the Monster is so enamored by verse that he adopts the names "Caliban", after the wretched, deformed villain of Shakespeare's The Tempest, and John Clare, a 17th century English poet who suffered from several disfigurements. Brand gives the monster a job at his theater, The Grand Guignol, but is forced to let him go after the Monster unintentionally frightens one of his actresses.
The Monster tracks Frankenstein down, destroys his newest creation, Proteas, and demands that he build a female mate for him. Frankenstein reluctantly creates an undead female, using the body of prostitute Brona Croft, but she grows to loathe the Monster and rejects him. Heartbroken, the Monster asks Frankenstein to kill him, lamenting that his soul is as corrupt and debased as his physical form. Frankenstein cannot bear to kill his creation, however, and lets him go. The Monster takes refuge in a hospital for plague victims, where he befriends protagonist Vanessa Ives.
The series' third and final season reveals that the Monster had been an orderly in an insane asylum before his (unexplained) death, and had showed Vanessa kindness during her institutionalization. He had also been possessed by the series' primary villains, Lucifer and his brother Dracula, as they competed for Vanessa's soul.
The Monster eventually regains the memory of his former life, and seeks out his wife and young son, who are so happy to have him back that they overlook his disfigurements. His happiness is short-lived, however, as his son soon dies of the Plague. His wife begs him to use Frankenstein's science to revive the boy, but the Monster refuses to condemn his son to the life of freakish misery that he has known. His wife disowns him, and he resigns himself to an eternity alone.
- Main article: Frankenstein's Monster (Universal)
- Main article: Frankenstein's Monster (Young Frankenstein)
This incarnation of the Monster is a rare purely heroic variant who is a fully benevolent creature who retains his novel counterpart's intelligence and is only seeking revenge against Count Dracula, his brides and Igor after the former murdered Victor Frankenstein following the creation of the monster himself. The reason why this incarnation is far more benevolent than any other is likely because the incarnation of Victor Frankenstein from the same story is perhaps the least malicious one seen in all of pop culture.
- Main article: Frankenstein's Monster (2007 film)
- Main article: Adam Frankenstein
- Main article: Frankenstein's Monster (Victor Frankenstein)
Since Frankenstein is such a famous tale, it has been adapted many times, and, subsequently, the creature has had many different takes on him over the years, both visually, and in terms of his personality, but many of his traits are fairly consistent: He is deeply dissatisfied and depressed about life in general, holds a grudge against his creator, and is generally afraid of humanity due to its judgmental prejudice against him based solely on his grotesque appearance.
Despite his terrifying and zombie-like appearance, the creature harbours the same emotions like any other human, and the same desires: Love, friendship, and acceptance into society. Whenever he reaches out, he is faced with fear and aggression, is rejected and driven away, and his bitter loneliness manifests into a seething hatred for his creator. Despite this, he does not hate humanity, generally avoiding humans, and will only harm others in either self-defence or, in a bid to harm Frankenstein, those whom Frankenstein holds dear.
While he generally is portrayed as a miserable and embittered pariah, his intellect varies greatly depending on the adaptation. While in the book he was strategizing, somewhat educated, and highly cunning, this was eclipsed by his perhaps more iconic depiction in the Universal movies. In these, he seldom spoke, although when he did, his words carried a great deal of gravity and cryptic meaning to them. Because he was largely mute, later adaptations mistook this for stupidity and would portray the creature as an imbecilic man-child, and the Hammer series completely removed his lonely side, making him a cold-blooded murderer with severe retardation.
Many forms of popular culture would later emulate the guttural and largely mute creature. In the novel, the Monster was a vegetarian, eating berries, nuts, roots, leaves, bread, cheese, and milk, although he detested wine (In the Universal canon, the creature enjoyed alcohol and smoking). Later, however, he killed a hare for Frankenstein to eat. Prior to his rejection, the creature was friendly, naïve, and helpful towards people, saving a little girl from drowning (only for her father to mistake this for an attack and shoot him) and fed a poor family and helped manage their farm in a bid to befriend them (though this ended in bitter failure).
Powers and Abilities
- Superhuman Condition: Victor's creation was made to be stronger, faster, more durable, and agile than an ordinary man, specifically Victor himself. The creature's tremendous strength can be attributed to his size and muscle mass. The creature's superhuman prowess allowed him to scale Mont Saleve in a short period of time, remarkable considering the mountain is four thousand, five-hundred, and twenty-four feet high at sea level.
- Superhuman Strength: The creature possessed uncanny strength because he was approximately eight feet in height, and proportionally large. He has stated that he could easily crush a cottage, or tear a man limb from limb with ease. His strength extended to his legs, allowing him to leap across distances that would be impossible for a human to replicate.
- Superhuman Speed: The creature has been stated as being able to climb mountains in a short amount of time and described as moving swifter than an eagle. Eagles swoop down towards speeds of 200 mph. He claimed that he was faster than a stag when running casually. Stags can reach speeds of 70 km/hr.
- Superhuman Durability: The creature's bones and muscles were somehow more dense than those of a human. He could withstand being in the Arctic with no discomfort.
- Virtual Self-Sustenance: The creature could survive off the most minimal quantities of food and water despite his large size.
- Superhuman Agility: The creature was more flexible than an ordinary human.
- Superhuman Stamina: The creature was virtually immune to fatigue. He could climb the Alps without stopping or swim across the English Channel without rest.
- Immortality: Because his body was composed of raw material from the charnel houses, the creature is immune to aging. He was also immune to illness. However, he was, presumably, only biologically immortal, as he could be conceivably killed with enough force. In the novel, Victor, in creating his creature, had hoped "to banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!" He apparently succeeded in doing both with his creation of the Monster.
- Superhuman Metabolism
- Superhuman Reflexes
- Healing Factor: The creature could heal far faster than an ordinary human. He was able to heal from a gunshot wound within a few weeks without medical attention.
- Superhuman Intelligence: The creature was able to read books such as Milton's Paradise Lost, one of the volumes of Plutarch's Parallel Lives, and Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther within a year. He also knew multiple languages, and Victor was afraid the creature would learn how to replicate the creation process by observation.
- Frankenstein's Monster is arguably considered one of the most tragic villains in history, as he was shunned since the very first moment he came to life, ostracized and rejected despite his good intentions, was repeatedly deprived of love and affection, and he became murderous solely to avenge his misery, but he ultimately regretted his actions, and opted to commit suicide to stop himself from causing any more harm.
- In Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein's Monster was described as having yellow skin that barely concealed the blood vessels and organs inside the creature. But over many different retold adaptions of the story, it has been made many different colors, with its most well-known color being green.
- Contrary to what many modern audiences believe, the name of Frankenstein's Monster is not Frankenstein in particular, as the name is merely derived from his creator Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and in truth, Frankenstein's Monster has no real name. Nevertheless, given that the Monster's appearances in popular culture mostly refer to him as "Frankenstein", the monster is now known by such a name.
- Onset, Kenneth Branagh, who portrayed Victor Frankenstein, refused to accept naming de Niro's character any insulting names. He chose to call the Monster the "Sharp Featured Man" instead.