Biologically speaking, human beings are social creatures that have relied on fellow members of their species to survive since the era of hunting and gathering. Being social creatures, human beings have language; an incredibly advanced and complex form unparalleled by any other species. This ability to compose and comprehend language in such a manner is something that is integral to being human, but that alone cannot distinguish the species. Technologically, neurologically, and psychologically (with respect to humans’ degree of self-awareness) speaking, humans are again unparalleled, but there must be more to the definition of being human than just this. A computer, albeit a highly advanced one, is capable of speaking, hearing, and problem solving, but all can agree that a computer is far from human. To be human, in my opinion, is to possess compassion; that is, the ability to give it and the need to receive it, with respect to other humans. An individual may be deemed not human or a “monster” when he commits an act so abhorrent that it breaks the moral code which his fellow man has agreed upon; an act that exemplifies his lack of compassion. This can be seen in the most extreme circumstances with individuals like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
Following this logic, Victor Frankenstein’s creation is far from a “monster”. In fact, he feels and embodies that aforementioned compassion which is distinctly human. When, eventually, the creature confronts Victor in the mountains with all his mastery of the English language, he appeals to Victor’s compassion saying, “Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion?”(Page 107). In this same incident, the creature describes how initially he “was benevolent and good” (Page 107). Taking this into account, when, earlier in the story, Victor (via Walton) recounts the first moments of the creation’s life stating, “…one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me…”, we now know that this was a complete misinterpretation on Victor’s part (Page 55). The creation wasn’t attempting to attack Victor, but was seeking his compassion, as a child does with outstretched arms towards his mother.
Let’s consider the comparison of Victor and his creation to God and Adam, respectively. This comparison was not only detailed in class by Dr. Johns, but is explicitly stated by the creation on page 107. This comparison may not be solely for the purpose of illustrating the extent of Victor Frankenstein’s power, but also to show that the creation is like Adam in that both Adam and the creation are human. More so, I interpret the God and Adam comparison to mean that the creation is even more human than Victor; that Victor is the exception of the two with respect to their humanness because is God, obviously, is no human being.
Alternatively, if we agree that Victor is human, then there is evidence within the text for the creation’s need for compassion equal to that of Captain Walton and Victor. During the episode in which the creation is recounting his experience observing the cottagers, he remarks of how he looks forward to the day that he would “first win their favour, and afterwards their love” (Page 125). The creation desired to be liked and loved by the cottagers, not so different from the feelings that Captain Walton communicates to his sister when he writes, “I greatly need a friend who would have sense enough not to despise me as a romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavor to regulate my mind” (Page 6). And both of these cases are akin to the feelings of Victor Frankenstein who, after much time in solitude and misery, states that grasping Henry Clerval’s hand made him feel “for the first time during many months, calm and serene joy” (Page 56). All three of these individuals yearn for and are enlivened by human compassion for the very reason that all three of them are human beings.
We have to keep in mind that during the period that Frankenstein was written and published, Western civilization was quick to deem foreign populations subhuman. This can be seen with individuals who worked in the field of scientific racism, such as Charles White who believed that “each race was a separate species”. Considering this, we must understand the bias and cultural influence which have affected Victor Frankenstein and Captain Walton, through whom the story is being told. I believe that Victor Frankenstein’s creation is a human whose misery has hindered his compassion, but not altogether destroyed it.
All Quotes From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Dover Publications, except:
 John P. Jackson, Nadine M. Weidman Race, Racism, and science: social impact and interaction, Rutgers University Press, 2005, pp. 39–41