Frankenstein’s Secrecy

Throughout Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, several themes come into play; knowledge, sublime nature, monstrosity, and secrecy to name a few. One theme that I noticed while reading the novel (both times I have read it) was secrecy, and how both of our main characters, Victor Frankenstein and his creation, keep secrets throughout the entire novel, whether by choice or need.

Clearly when thinking about the secrets that Victor Frankenstein kept, the first thing that pops into most readers’ heads is the fact that he kept his creation a secret, even after he caused the deaths of two people dear to him. After Frankenstein created his monster, he fell ill and basically slept for months. When he was better, it was like he thought it was all a dream and that if he pretended it had not happened, maybe nothing bad would come of it. It was then that he heard of his younger brother, William’s death; he just knew that the monster had something to do with it. After returning home, he discovers that Justine, the maid of the Frankenstein family, had been framed (by the monster) for William’s death. Victor Frankenstein sat through her entire trial, knowing that it was not her that had killed William but the monster that he had created. Yet he did nothing, he said nothing. This just began the list of secrets that Victor then had to keep.

Maybe when thinking about the creature that Frankenstein created most do not think about him having to keep secrets. But, in reality, he had to basically keep his entire existence a secret. He hid in a hovel on the side of the DeLacey’s cottage for months, learning from them without them knowing, before he finally revealed himself to the blind older man. The creature also forced Victor into keeping secrets when he asked him to make him a mate. Victor was torn, but decided to make the mate until he realized what the consequences could be. After he destroyed the unfinished product, he took his boat into the middle of a lake and dumped it. The monster told him that he would be with him on his wedding night, yet Victor still insisted on keeping it all a secret from his fiancé, Elizabeth, telling her that he would come clean after they were married (too bad Elizabeth had to figure out the secret the hard way).

Both characters, however, ended up able to absolve themselves of their secrets at the end of the novel with Walton. Victor told Walton everything, from the very beginning, about the creature and all that had happened because of him. After he came clean on it all, he died shortly after. It was after he died that the creature revealed himself and also came clean to Walton about all he had done. Both characters got to end their lives in the book with a clean slate, free of secrets, in their own way.

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