I found this essay while looking through some old school-documents. I wrote it many years back in High-school. The task was: Compare Frankenstein’s creation with Dorian Gray. One is considered repulsive whereas the other is the definition of beauty. What differences and similarities are there between the two characters?
A Thing of Beauty is a Thing Within
In the eyes of the world, beauty most often means bodily beauty. We see it on billboards, in magazines, in movies. We never think of beauty as an eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, by which I mean that real beauty is in the thoughts and actions of a person, however ugly his or her body may be.
“Frankenstein’s monster” is beautiful within, although since I haven’t read the book (only an excerpt) I can’t say if he stays so. Dorian Gray is at first a simple and quite innocent young boy, who happens to be a possessor of bodily beautiful. Dorian is degraded first by Lord Henri, who seems to be almost in love with him. When he later sees his picture, he becomes quite mad, and in obsession for his own beauty wishes for the picture to become old and he himself remain as he is at that moment. This is a very bad thing, for it induces Dorian in all kinds of nasty businesses, for no one can believe that such a beautiful young man can be evil. At the same time none can think that Frankenstein’s creation has any good in him, and they flee at his very sight.
So, we see goodness in outer beauty and evil in outer ugliness. But off course it doesn’t need to be that way. As a matter of fact it isn’t. There are innumerable stories of people who are good, beautiful, successful. There are as many stories of people who are evil, ugly, successful/destroyed. But is this the real picture? It seems that the icons of perfection that we have, in the form of models, singers, actors, actually do a whole lot of nonsense. They are in no way better people than everyday-heroes who are neither famous nor beautiful. Like the dog who saved its little master by swimming with the baby in its mouth during the tsunami. Or firemen or environment-activists. If real beauty is defined by actions then these people are far more beautiful than the bodily-beautiful Hollywood actress who spends her life partying, or Dorian Gray, who is a murdering debauchee.
Frankenstein’s monster displays sensitivity and great love for all things beautiful in this world. He adores the little birds chirruping and the small family in the cottage who are so kind to each other. He craves to be with them, but dare not approach because he has previously encountered men who are repulsed and frightened by him. Dorian Gray on the other hand does his best to misuse the place in society which has been given to him on account of the beauty he possesses. He spoils his own life and others’ and no one can catch him at it because he looks as beautiful as ever. All the while his portrait only becomes more and more horrible. But this no one sees because he has hidden it in his attic.
Dorian would most probably treat Frankenstein’s monster with disgust, if he ever happened to come across him. Maybe it would do them good to hear each others stories, or at least Dorian would be benefited to hear what Frankenstein’s monster has got to say. It could perhaps help him to become a better person, for he has never heard how an oppressed entity feels, on account of his beauty and seeming innocence.
On the whole Dorian Gray and Frankenstein’s monster are opposites. One has external beauty and the other has it internally. The question is whose beauty is worth more. A person with bodily beauty may be remembered for some generations, maybe there is a painting or a photo. But the idea of external beauty changes almost every year. How much more lasting then is not morality and love, when it can be understood at all times?