Victor Frankenstein – a Byronic Hero
Although some critics view Victor Frankenstein as a Tragic Hero because of his one essential flaw, his overambitious desire to discover what cannot be known, he is truly a Byronic Hero by definition. Although Victor is of a higher social class than the average person and his essential flaw triumphs all of his others, he has a deeply troubled past, struggles with integrity, secludes himself away from society, and is a willful individual who seeks redemption by carving out his own path. Victor’s many, deep flaws, which often induce the reader to believe that he is actually the antagonist and the Monster the hero, and ultimate redemption in telling Robert Walton his life’s story make him a Byronic Hero.
Although Victor’s family was one of the most distinguished of the republic of Geneva and his parents were possessed by the “very spirit of kindness / And indulgence,” (Shelley 39) his days were not filled with happiness. His troubled past started the day Elizabeth caught scarlet fever, delaying his departure for Ingolstadt. Although Victor’s mother, Caroline, was able to cure her, she died in her place. The destruction of a dear bond by an irreparable evil surely would have caused anyone to suffer, but as time came, Caroline’s death became “rather an / Indulgence than a necessity” (Shelley 45) to Victor; it was nothing more than something that delayed his departure for Ingolstadt. Because Victor is in a situation where he no longer has control, his psyche must carry the burden of his mother’s death wish, which was to marry Elizabeth, and repress her death altogether, setting the stage for his future miser by subconsciously provoking him to learn the secrets to life.
Without his mother’s touch to guide and nurture him, along with his father’s neglect to tell him that the principles of Agrippa and alchemy had been disproved, Victor begins to turn away from community and unknowingly replace it with something he could control,...