Neglect, Violence, and Adolescents: A Monstrous Combination
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein goes beyond what the frame of mind believes is true of violence, principally because many don’t see neglect as a form or correlation to violence. The monster states, “This passion is detrimental to me, for you do not reflect that you are the cause of its excess (Shelley 157).” This state of violence or “passion” as the monster proclaims proves relevant and true to modern day's adolescents. In the 21st Century, more and more research is being brought to the foreground on adolescents acting out in violent acts due to their family life; especially from neglect. To some, these children are seen as monsters before anything else, putting them in a very vulnerable situation. The monster in Frankenstein represents the “monsters” that people see in adolescents in modern day. He is the being that is constantly criticized and sometimes if not frequently, forgotten. If the state of neglect being asserted on the adolescent is extreme, the result will have extreme reactions coming from the so-called “monsters.”
As we learn throughout the story of Frankenstein, neglect is the root of the monster’s misery. It is not just neglect from the general population, but specifically from his creator. As I have quoted above, “for you do not reflect that you are the cause of its excess (Shelley 157).” The monster is telling his creator (Frankenstein) that he is the reason for the violence that has erupted from within. Frankenstein has neglected his creation and left him to explore this reality called “life” alone. This neglect leads him onto an ongoing path of violence. From this violence no joy erupts from inside of the monster; instead we see further misery.
From the emergence of the violence of the monster, Frankenstein sees his creation as an evil. He does not look further into his creation to see why the monster has become so violent. Therefore, he concludes that the monster is evil, that nothing can be done, and neglects him further. Neglect in the first place was burdensome for the monster, but now that the monster knows his creator is purposely neglecting him he feels eternal sadness. How could someone who created him, hate him?
Furthermore, the monster confronts Frankenstein with his discovery. “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.” (Shelley 105) The monster knows that he is openly hated by all, even his creator. He sees that he is being looked down upon as a fallen angel. He was something that his creator planned on being good but essentially turned evil, like Satan or a demon. The bible relates this behavior to sinners and the monster here is therefore portrayed as a sinner, but he believes he should be seen differently because his creator is his God.
The monster believes he should be seen as Adam, as in Adam and Eve from the Old Testament. God had created Adam as an extension of himself on earth, but once Adam disappoints him and eats the fruit off the forbidden tree, he expels him from the Garden of Eden. The monster feels as if this is what has happened between his creator and himself. His creator has seen what a monstrous thing he has created and wants to rid himself of it. The only problem is, God accepted Adam back into his world. Frankenstein refuses to accept his monster back into his life, leading to a further state of neglect and a further state of violence.
Therefore, the monster tries everything in his power to get his creator to notice him. He has created this “passion” to kill the humans that make Frankenstein the happiest because he himself craves that happiness. But, this newfound passion of violence isn’t benefitting the monster in anyway. He even claims that it is “detrimental to me”(Shelley 157) because he gains no joy from it. Instead he remains just as broken and neglected as he did before his acts of violence. He is screaming for help from his creator; a creator that refuses to show the least bit of interest in his once beloved project. The monster realizes that his creator is playing a far different role than God at this point. God always kept a close eye on Adam and Eve, even in times of resentment. He cared for them and forgave them, because after all God forgives all.
It can be extremely detrimental when a parent refuses to recognize their own creation. This story brings the extremes of this ideal to the forefront. In modern day society, the problem of neglect portrayed in Frankenstein is not only relatable but very similar. According to sociologists at Penn State University, “Parents who physically neglect their boys may increase the risk that they will raise violent adolescents.” Sociologists at University of Nebraska agreeing state, “we find appreciable support for the idea that child neglect, especially physical neglect, increases the likelihood for violence later in life.” These groups of sociologists are not alone in their theories. The correlation between violence and neglect from parents is strong. Many adolescents act out in violent manners because the people they beg attention from the most (their creators/their parents) aren’t listening to them.
Without the proper attention from parents to the adolescents, further problems could entail that last throughout the adolescents future growth. In the conclusion of the sociologists at the University of Nebraska’s thesis they state, “Our research indicates that even less serious forms of child neglect have long-reaching negative effects on children, their peer relationships, and their violent behavior.” So, even if the severity of neglect isn’t immense, it could still be detrimental ever more. This type of neglect can lead a direct path to a future of violence and hatred.
“This passion is detrimental to me for you do not reflect that you are the cause of its excess (Shelley 157).” Again, I bring up this phrase because Frankenstein sees that his creator has brought about his demise. Yet, his creator fails to realize this bitter truth. Many adolescents who believe that their parents don’t care will continue in violent, detrimental manners. They crave attention that would help soothe the pain and maybe help relieve the violence, but this attention goes unnoticed and their “passion” for violence does not curtail. Agreeably, the monster’s violent acts will not end until his creator gives him the attention that he so desperately craves.
Whether it be a fictional character such as the monster from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, or the theories of present day sociologists; neglect, violence, and adolescents form a deadly combination. The adolescent craves attention from their creator and without that attention they deteriorate, maybe not physically, but emotionally. The parents are the creators of the evil passion known as violence, as Frankenstein’s monster states. These adolescents are their parents’ “creatures”, therefore they ought to be their Adam and Eve’s; their children whom if they are ever at fault, will be welcomed back with open arms.