Frankenstein illustrated the hierarchy of basic human needs when they’re fulfilled, when they’re unsatisfied and the effect of both.
There are basic human needs: Physiological, Safety, Love, Affection and Belongingness, Esteem, and lastly, Self-Actualization. Once our lower level needs are met, we are prompted to satisfy our higher level needs. (From Maslow, 1970).
Victor Frankenstein was raised in a wealthy family, with a mother whom adored and loved him unconditionally, siblings who admired him, an adopted sister whom he cherished and a father whom is kind. “No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence…When I mingled with other families I distinctly discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted in the development of filial love (Shelley 23).”
Victor was provided every basic human need in becoming a well rounded and educated man. He had his family, his friend, Henry Clerval, and his love, Elizabeth. His last need, Self-Actualization, he pursued with upmost determination; he left his home and his family, college bound. His was future promising. While studying at The University of Ingolstadt, a passion and fondness for Chemistry was brought forth. It was there that Victor’s mere interest in Science became an obsession and a life from darkness was born. “No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me.” (Shelly 51)
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His quest for knowledge had taken over; morals were compromised, values were exterminated and basic human needs became disastrous, dangerous, and ultimately demolished. Victor secluded himself from society and became enamored with creating another being. “The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body.” (Shelley 58) However, Victor’s need for purpose and fulfillment wasn’t positively rewarded. His drive became fully functional, and disgust took control. “I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Shelley, 58 ) Victor creation was illustrated at as “monster” and it was then that he realized he went too far in his fervent love for Science. The rejection that Victor had for the monster was instantaneous and he eradicated the Monster of progressing passed the very basic physiological need by completely abandoning him.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs, safety is the need to feel that the world is organized and predictable; a need to feel safe, secure, and stable. (Meyers 472) The creature was left to discover the world, and the people of the world, without any knowledge of how different he was. “My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine.” (www.literature.org April 4, 2009)
The needs of the Creatures existence and that of an infant’s were identical despite the differences in creation. The Creature longed for basic human needs and just as an infant, it is the parents, or in this case, Victor’s responsibility to supply them, to teach and to guide just as Victor’s mother had done.
... this I mean that the monster is seeking love and shows deep emotion as we go on Victor becomes heartless and more cold ... the demon inside of himself because he knows that this creature is not good and how could he create such a ... once thought was beautiful has now turned into this awful creature. He even foreshadows his own fate by saying “natural philosophy ...
Victor, in a sense, had become a Parent; he was a creator. He took on a Godly role, by giving life; however, he gave life, through death and thus contrasted his excusable decision to abandon the Creature? Was Victor now judging what was right or wrong and good or evil? He was disgusted, sickened and even fearful of the Creature; his Creature! He ran from his apartment at the sight of it. “Like on who on a lonesome road doth walk in fear and dread, and having once turned round walks on, and no more turns his head, because he knows a frightful fiend doth close behind him tread.” (Shelley 61) Yet, the Creature had done nothing to Victor. He didn’t attempt to hurt him. It wasn’t as if upon life, the Creature attacked Victor. He was simply running from his own fear. His disgust should have been rooted from his motives not the consequence of them.
Victor is comparable to a present day, dead beat dad. He enjoyed making the Monster, though resented and abandoned his “child” and chose to not supply the Creature with Safety, Beloningness, Love or Esteem, which was what the Creature desired and needed .”I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.”( www.litquotes.com April 4, 2009) It seemed that Victor’s upbringing had over compensated “basic” needs, as Victor was in fact a Monster himself and allowed ignorance to outweigh his knowledge, for Victor knew of his responsibilities. Despite his upbringing with love and loyalty, he grew into a selfish, obsessive man whom lacked accountability and responsibility and a complete disregard for life. He did not value his life, his creations or the society in which he unleashed a creature brought to life by science and diseased limbs. Then as a coward, he closed his eyes to what he had created and hid underneath a sheet of ignorance.
Victor’s creation was left to care for his self which was just as immoral as Victors desire to create him. Like a child born to life, the Creature required needs, guidance, safety and love. He was compelled to belong and looked for his “parent”. He wondered, searching for acceptance and friendship. However, after harsh encounters, torment, and rejection the Creature comprehended his differences realized his appearance was horrifying. “Monster! Ugly Wretch!” ( Shelley 144)
... In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein is the true monster, not the creature himself. Victor Frankenstein grew up in Geneva. He ... they never came in contact. While he was observing the family, all he could see in them was "benevolence, affection, ... ahead of time. This could have possibly saved her life. "Victor neither confesses his duplicity in the murder nor warns Elizabeth ...
Disregarding the human ability to be a loving and kind, the Creature too became a Monster. He sought vengeance toward Victor. Upon the death of William the Monster discovered likeliness for revenge. “I, too can create desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable; this death will carry despair to him, and thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him.” (Shelley 144)
The Monster proceeded to kill Victor’s closes loves: his family members. What was interesting is the moral of this story: two Creatures, whether provided or deprived of basic needs, are capable of becoming one in the same, a Monster. However, it is clear that family is a basic need. It was family in which the Monster was able to destroy Victor and through Family, or lack there of, that Victor destroyed the Monster.
Psychology David G. Meyers 2007 by Worth Publishers; Chapter 12: Motivation and work. Page 472
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley published by Penguin Group