Victor Frankenstein as a Tragic Hero Essay Example

Date:  2021-12-20 12:06:04
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Mary Shelley introduces us to a tragic hero with a fatal flaw or hamartia. In her text, Dr. Victor Frankenstein fits the characterization as a result of his tragic downfall. He is a complex character, one who fits the guidelines of Aristotelian imagery of tragic heroes. According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is one who occupies a social status with an epitomizing nobility and is not perfect (Gale, n.p). He goes further to explain that the hero must possess a tragic flaw which is defined by an error in judgment, also known as hamartia. The tragic hero finds himself undergoing the process of self-realization and becomes informed of various situations and how they unfolded. These characteristic images Mary Shelley's character and he exist as an example of an Aristotelian tragic hero.

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Victor: Frankenstein Character Analysis

We are introduced to Victor retelling the tale about his life and the lowered situation brought about by Captain Walton. The conversation he has with Walton depicts a knowledgeable person of a higher level who can draw a contrast between himself and his companions. His high level of knowledge is evident by the quote where Walton mentions, You are in need of wisdom and knowledge as I once asked. The quote portrayed Victor's desire of gaining knowledge and his openness which also enabled him to interpret the personality of Walton. His high position in the society is also noted through the meticulous conversation and diction with Walton coupled with Waltons perception of the stranger. The subsequent events mark the climax of the paper where Frankenstein is presented as not perfect and has various tragic flaws that make his downfall inevitable. He has a great desire of acquiring knowledge marked with undeniable ignorance of morals which later prove fatal (Shelley, 292).

Frankenstein Creation as Catastrophe

The blinding ambition, that is one of Victor Frankenstein's character traits, makes him live a life of a recluse and creating a monster, one who eventually destroys all the people he loved. It is his rejection of corrections about his flaw that gives the monster the power of revenge on him and another walking being. The imperfection goes further to enable the responder to understand and make a relation to him thus leading to the creation of a tragic hero. It can thus be argued that Shelley allows Victor to gain the tragic character by first giving him the power of acquiring knowledge and awareness of the accompanying reasons that justify his situation. The draw is also evidenced in the Aristotelian definition of a tragic hero. His realization is equally imaged with an immediate effect through the retrospective narrative form, a framework that allows the older and wiser Frankenstein to realize his errors and mistakes (Fleming, n.p). We can equally argue that the tragic flaws of Victor begin from the laboratory after making the irrational decision of creating life. Many literary scholars argue the step as an achievement which he ought to have shared with the people and most importantly the family members. Many individuals are amazed when he considered the least of the decision. The achievement is later repulsed to an ugly form (Wright, n.p).

Why Would Victor Frankenstein, Rather Than His Creation, Most Likely Be Considered Monstrous?

The created character from the laboratory begins to move across the land and to Victor's chamber, a situation which makes him flee and denies the events which unfolded. Victor later becomes delirious and ill and nursed by one Henry Clervel which made it become a crude killer. In case Victor had been friendly with the creation, his wife and brother would have never been killed. It is his flaw towards the creature that he finally fell. Lastly, we can argue that the commentary which the author is trying to make about society is that knowledge and wisdom cannot be acquired out of ignorance of morals. The drawing was the first flaw of Victor. Knowledge can only be beneficial if morals accompany it. A society that disregards morality will eventually fall just like Victor Frankenstein. Further to that, the creation and subsequent rejection of the Monster also informs how the society may take the lead in judging based on their superficial standards and in most cases those who are judged may not be able to overcome the judgments. It is because of Victor's creature not being able to take the rejection by a human being that it became a crude killer.


In summary, Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein character exists as a tragic hero whose flaws impact the life he eventually lives. He started as a person who was thirsty for knowledge and wisdom and acquired a high stature which are the basic characteristics of heroes. His heroism got affected by his disregard for morality and the subsequent rejection of his creature which later led to his downfall. The author used his case in making a commentary about society to realize the importance of morality to stand. It further stated how at times the society could be quick in offering judgments to people based on their superficial standard, a situation which may lead to consequential outcomes as noted in the analysis.


Arthur, Princess. "Making Love Not War: Female Power and the Emotional Labor of Peace in Code: Realizethe Guardian of Rebirth and." Digital Love. AK Peters/CRC Press, 2017. 61-82.

Fleming, Jenna E. "One Feeling in Such a Solitude: Representations of Love and Marriage in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley." (2016).

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Christopher Marlowe's" Doctor Faustus (see also "Tragedy of...")." Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.

Nair, Lakshmi R. "Playing God: Robin Cook's Mutations a Reworking of the Frankenstein Theme of the Creator Pitted against them. Writers-Editors Critics (WEC) Vol. 6, No. 2: September 2016-Tribute to Mahasweta Devi (2016): 77.

Shelley, Mary. "Aeschylus and Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley." Brill's Companion to the Reception of Aeschylus 11 (2017): 292.

Small, Cathleen. Frankenstein's Monster. Cavendish Square Publishing, 2016.

Wright, Jude. "Listening to the Monster: eliding and restoring the creature's voice in adaptations of Frankenstein." Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance 8.3 (2015): 249-266.

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