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Tiffany Chang

Professor Adler

English 061

21 March 2018

The Monstrous Mind

The human mind is frightening existence; as seen in Mary Shelley’s famous

Frankenstein, depression is a subject that applies to the characters as it does to people today. The

relationship between Frankenstein and his monster is more than a poor representation of

responsibility; it’s the connection between depression, the self, and society.

Frankenstein suffers from narcissistic pathology and his god complex shows how he

craves to keep things under his control, a sign of depressive state. Frankenstein’s offers of

explanations over the rejection of his creation draws a parallel to how people try to dispel

depression as a real thing. (Berrios 4) His suppression of the monster’s existence as a means to

erase a part of himself reflects on how many today deny the existence of depression with both

creating a narrow, unhealthy environment. There’s a large focus on Frankenstein’s background.

Good education, wealthy family, caring relationships; it paints the perfect picture of a happy

lifestyle and that no one else “could have passed a happier childhood than [him]”. (19) This

further emphasizes on how depression can creep up so easily to anyone, regardless of living

situations and how it may cause people to refuse the existence of having depression because of

how their situation is viewed by others and themselves.

The monster’s body was assembled of multiple parts, much like the jubilation of

Frankenstein’s mind. When Justine is due to death, he immediately claims himself “the true
murderer” (63) rather than the monster. When he gets sick and believes he cannot recover unless

by the aid of Clerval, the interactions connote to the loneliness that he might have feel and the

suffocating unbelieved reality that his mind was closing in on him. When he catches news of

William’s death, his immediate thought of the monster was unreliable. Without any concrete

proof, he made the accusation under the byproduct of his fear and depression that he’s

“convinced of its truth” and “could not doubt it.” (50) The first interactions the monster has with

human was one of stereotypical, prejudice nature. Just as he was chased out of villages into a

forced isolation, many in today’s time ignorantly expel those who have mental illnesses. Near the

end, Frankenstein rapidly changes his thoughts from hatred to compassion to revulsion to self-

justification to self-proclaimed righteousness when the monster asks for a female companion as a

means of immoral compensation.

Throughout contemporary history, Frankenstein and the monster are seen as one person

(e.g. the green monster with bolts). Frankenstein and the monster share various similarities: their

tendencies towards violence, the ironic isolation each face, the oddity of loathsomeness toward

each other, and the reflection of society as an evil. They’re two sides of the same coin. One

cannot exist without the other, but it could’ve led to a different path had Frankenstein

acknowledged the monster as a living, real thing.

It’s not to say that the monster isn’t real; Frankenstein’s monster has always existed in

the shadows of the mind much like depression today.


Work Cited

Berrios, G. (1988). Melancholia and Depression During the 19th Century: A Conceptual History.
British Journal of Psychiatry, 153(3), 298-304. doi:10.1192/bjp.153.3.298

Harvard Health. “What Causes Depression?” Harvard Health, Harvard Health Publishing, 11
Apr. 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. Dover Publications, 2009.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute
of Mental Health. (2015). Depression (NIH Publication No. 15-3561). Bethesda, MD:
U.S. Government Printing Office