Born from science and occult mystery, Frankenstein’s creature is the fruit of years worth of research and experimentation in the pursuit of knowledge. The creature himself hungers, in the beginning, for knowledge and learning and he acquires it quickly enough through observation and eventually the power of literacy. The books that Frankenstein’s creature happens upon and reads are absolutely vital to his personal development and his perception of himself as well as the world around him – but they also serve as primary learning tools. Since Paradise Lost is one of the works that the creature is exposed to, his self-comparison to Lucifer in chapter ten is sensible. The concern of this essay, however, isn’t the connection that the creature has forged with Lucifer as a character, rather, what he has learned from him – rhetorical argumentation.
Anyone who searches for the presence of rhetorical elements in the creatures appeal to Frankenstein will not have a difficult time finding it. Indeed, the creature’s initial persuasion itself is full of rhetorical styling as well as pathos, ethos, and logos. “I expected this reception, all men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things!”. The creature begins his introduction with lamenting words, expressing disappointment but not surprise that he was ill-received by Frankenstein. These forewords, ideal examples of the use of Pathos, serve as excellent rhetorical primers to the monologue that ensues. The creature’s words do not fail to create some small measure of sympathy, particularly in the reader. Pathos is also invoked here, in the introduction to his main argument: “Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
Afterwards, the creature follows up immediately by reminding Frankenstein of his responsibility towards him as his creature. “Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself… I am thy creature.” This is a direct assignation of responsibility towards Frankenstein, bearing on him the responsibility for having made the creature. Moreover, the use of ethos here sets up the implication that Frankenstein can give something to the creature “which thou owest me.”
Finally, the creature offers Frankenstein a logical ultimatum, an incentive and a compromise that would satisfy them both. “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.” And throughout, the language used by the creature is eloquent, calm, and fair, fairer even than that wielded by Frankenstein himself.
The use of these elements in the creature’s appeal is indicative of a high-level basis of thought. Indeed, it suggests the presence of an educated mind in Frankenstein’s creature. However, none of the books the creature happens upon (The Sorrows of Young Werther, Plutarch’s Lives, and Paradise Lost) directly engage with rhetorical tutelage or strategy. So where could Frankenstein’s creature have learned to structure arguments? He could not have picked it up from the family he watched over, and certainly not The Sorrows of Young Werther or Plutarch’s Lives. I maintain that the origins of his adeptness is primarily in Paradise Lost. In that epic, Lucifer is a compelling and tragic character as well as a talented rhetorician. Since Frankenstein’s creature has attached himself to Lucifer emotionally, seeing parallels in himself with him “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel”, it is not surprising that he has modeled himself after him in some capacity, even subconsciously. Frankenstein’s creature having engaged so deeply with the text, it is only sensical that he emulate Lucifer’s rhetorical style.