In the first half of the novel, readers learn how Frankenstein’s creature appears to become enlightened through the absorption of knowledge from the family in the cottage. His newfound skills and knowledge of human nature inspire him to try to take an active role in the family and in human society.
However, the events that take place after the creature attempts to enter human society cause us to reevaluate what he has learned or if he has truly become enlightened. After his rejection by the family, the creature regresses to a primal and violent state, reversing all of the progress towards civilization that he has made. The lessons he has learned from philosophy and history are forgotten, swept aside by his emotional devastation. Maybe this Adamic figure’s bitter apple is not the knowledge gained peering into the cottage but within it, where he is met with fear and disgust by his teachers.
The creature’s Adamic parallels continue in the latter half of Frankenstein, especially as he seeks a female companion. He says to Victor, “You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede” ( 141).
This demand of the creature’s, which becomes an obsession both for him and for Frankenstein, shows how the creature has seen human society and learned its mythology enough to think that a female of his own kind is “a right” that he is owed by his creator. This Adam’s demands for an Eve make me further reconsider if the creature really is Enlightened at all, or if he is just mimicking a standard he has learned about human society.
However, later in the novel, some of the creature’s actions do show intellectual innovation to the point of enlightened thought. When he confronts Frankenstein at the lab on the Scottish island, the creature declares, “Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master; obey!” (164).
This inversion of power between creator and created demonstrates the creature’s ability to break free of ideological constraints. Not only does the creature rebel against his creator (something countless figures have done), but he claims power over him and even calls him “slave.” This most unusual perspective on their relationship shows how the creature has been able to think critically on his own, rather than just imitating others. Thus, perhaps “enlightened” is, in the end, an appropriate word for Frankenstein’s creature.