From my Monsters class:
Victor Frankenstein is a casualty of lost opportunity. The chances he fails to take range from bad luck, to sickness and even his own neglect. From the very start Victor is treading down a path that reader knows will have an unhappy end.
Victor’s obsession with the outdated philosophy of natural science has an effect on his entire course of action in the story. His first impressions of the scientific world come from outdated texts, one in particular by Cornelius Agripa. It’s through these texts that Victor learns about natural philosophy, the precursor to modern science. He is so enthralled by the ideas that his father enrolls him in a course on the concepts. However, Victor falls prey to “some accident” and cannot attend the course till it is nearly finished. This is no doubt the first time Victor falls prey to lost opportunity. It’s a wonder if he had made the lecture, whether his mind would have been swayed from the terrible idea of creating the monster.
Victor then heads off to University a short time later where he meets with M. Krempe, a professor of natural science. Krempe informs him of how outdated the texts are that he has spent so much time studying. He then provides Victor with a list of new texts, which he implores him to read. At first Victor considers the idea of reading the books but then admits he doesn’t really feel inclined based on Krempe’s appearance. This is Victor’s second mistake. No doubt if he had had the drive to actually explore the texts he would have encountered many thought provoking ideas and set himself on a new path. As Victor dives deeper into science, his background is still firmly rooted in the doctrines of old.
As Victor moves ahead with his studies, he becomes fascinated with the concepts of life and death and soon makes progress beyond even his professors by discovering how to create life. As Victor locks himself away in his laboratory, he looses contact with the world outside, including his friends, his family, and people in general. Victor becomes a slave to his obsession, thus furthering his progress as a casualty of lost opportunity. Surely if he had preserved these social interactions and not spent so much time holed up in his lab, then he would have garnered some sort of sense and ceased work on his outlandish experiment.
Once Victor has followed through on his gross experiment, he comes upon his next chance to seize opportunity, but fails miserably. Newly animated, the monster leaves the lab and comes to Victor’s room. Victor is startled awake and is so disgusted by the site of the creature that he flees the apartment in panic. From this point on, we have two stories, one chronicling the events from Victor’s perspective and one from the monsters. It is evident over the course of the monster’s saga that his search for identity, for purpose, and for the feeling of acceptance is derived from the fact that Victor provided none of these to him. Victor provided life, but his fear forced him to miss out on an opportunity that would have benefited both of them. If Victor hadn’t fled the apartment, then his creation would still have been salvageable. He could have taught it how to interact with people, the concepts of right and wrong. But again, Victor misses an opportunity, this time on the basis of fear.
Fear will play a big roll in his next several missed opportunities. As Victor continues his life, he finds that he is unable to escape his past. The monster roams free while Victor becomes a slave to his fear and falls ill. Upon returning home to Geneva, Victor learns of the murder of his younger brother, William. Distraught by this news, Victor journeys to the forest where William’s body was found. It is there that he spots the silhouette of his gruesome creation lurking in the distance. Victor knows that the creature is guilty and despite the fact that Justine, a friend of the family, is held responsible, Victor remains silent. Certainly he doesn’t wish bad things on Justine, however, by allowing himself to be a slave to his fear, Victor misses the opportunity to clear her name and reveal the identity of the true killer. Justine pays for his fear with her life and once again, Victor in consumed by a world of guilt.
Victor then has his first encounter with the monster on the summit of Montanvert. It is here that he learns about the monsters life and how he has struggled with identity and understanding. Certainly the way in which the monster presents his case would stimulate a sense of compassion and pity in almost anyone. But once again, Victor misses an opportunity to right his wrong by continuing to marinate in his disgust. The creature even offers Victor the opportunity to rid him of his life by declaring that Victor create a female companion for him. Overcoming reluctance, Victor agrees to the monsters terms and begins work on the creation of a second life form.
As the second creature moves closer to completion, Victor begins to have second thoughts on the deal. It’s ironic that Victor missed out on this opportunity the first time around for he would have saved himself from much trouble in the long run. This time around, when completing the monster would have solved all of his problems, Victor changes his mind and in disgust destroys the second creature right before the eyes of the monster. Victor has missed his final opportunity to make right with his creation. As far as I am concerned, this is the final opportunity Victor will have to stop this madness. From this point on any missed opportunities will simply be in the realm of damage control.
The first strike from the monster comes in the form of his best friend, Henry, who’s murdered body shocks Victor and transforms him into the number one suspect. Though Victor is cleared of the murder he again misses the opportunity to reveal the specifics of the situation and bring the real perpetrator to justice. Victor is still a hostage to his own fear, a fear that he will somehow be punished for what he has done. The second strike is due to fall on Victor’s wedding night. The monster gives a clear warning that he will be with Victor on is wedding night. Rather than make plans, load up on guns and ammo or even inform his wife to be Elizabeth of the plot, Victor simply wallows in fear and let’s the night approach. Again, Victor misses out on a massive of opportunity. Anyone else in the same situation would have seized the chance to stop the monster with such a blatant warning. Victor practically knows the time and place of where the monster will be, yet misses the opportunity to strike. It’s also completely obvious that the monster is going to go after Elizabeth. Victor is a fool to leave her alone, even for a minute. With Elizabeth lost, Victor finally decided to go to the magistrates and explain what is happening, though the effort is too little too late. Victor instead swears revenge on the monster, which is his first intelligent decision in the novel. But as his health escapes him, Victor misses his final opportunity to stop the monster. He passes away on Walton’s boat, finally having found the motivation to stop the creature but he has become to old and weak to continue to hunt. With Victor’s final breath we see that opportunity missed, while sometimes the product of poor decision and fear, is sometimes out of our control. Though the desire is there, the ability may be gone. Victor learns a hard lesson about opportunity and from this example we can take a better look at our own lives and know when to seize the day.