Victor the Victorious? Or Victor the Victim? We can’t seem to decide which name better fits Victor Frankenstein. But we’re pretty sure whichever we land on will be his WWE name. Something tells us he’s rooting against Victor the Victim.
Frankenstein a la Shmoop
Fate versus Free Will
[ whale sounds ]
Fate versus free will is one of these themes
that pops up in so much literature.
And it's really at the basis of a lot of,
you know, Christian doctrine.
So let's take a look at Victor's name.
"Victor" means, you know, "the winner."
But it also sounds a little bit like "victim."
So the question is
is Victor a victim of fate?
Was he destined to the end that he had?
Or is he -- Does he come out victorious?
Is he the one who is --
Has the agency and makes the choices?
And then we ask the same thing
of the Monster, who, you know, again,
we conflate with Victor.
Where is this question of -- Kind of it comes back
to the tabula rasa question.
Where is, you know, was he destined to be this way?
Or did he make these choices?
Is Frankenstein's monster
a victim of Victor Frankenstein having abandoned him
or was it his own choice to kill all these people?
You know, this is a question we can't answer.
We can't get into Mary Shelley's brain
and know exactly what she was thinking.
But one way that we can use the text
to help us determine
is if we look at the two different editions of the book,
which we talked about way back
at the beginning of the course.
We have the 1818 edition
and the 1831 edition.
The last line of the 1818 edition
has the characters actively doing things.
Pushing themselves off of the raft and
Walton uses the word "I."
You know, uses this kind of, we call it agency,
that the people are acting and actively doing something.
In the 1831 version,
not so much.
Everything passively happens to them at the end.
So we kind of can see that maybe
in the original version,
Shelley did think, you know,
"It's these people or these characters' fault.
They could've done something differently.
They made these choices."
Then, with the help of Percy,
who helped edit to the 1831 version,
we end up with,
"No. It's fate. They were destined to be this way
and they couldn't have done anything differently."
If we're thinking biographically, again,
we have the woman saying
in 1818 when she wrote it on her own,
saying, you know, "Yes, we have agency.
We have free will. We can make changes."
And then Percy comes along,
helps out a little bit, and all of a sudden,
you know, "Nope. Whatever happens happens."
So there's a lot you can read into that.
That was Frankenstein with Dr. Deb,
PHD from Shmoop.
What is fate?
What is free will?
Does Frankenstein take one side over the other?
How has the message changed
between the two editions of Frankenstein?
Tales of Frankenstein