a depraved wretch
The phrasing suggests not just a vile being, as "wretch" was used in 1.4.1 and 1.4.2, but now also one who is corrupt,
wicked. Victor, who has no discernible religious belief or instruction,
has wandered into a treacherous theological morass. The Judeo-Christian
God has created humanity, in Milton's words, "just and right,/ Sufficient
to have stood, though free to fall" (Paradise Lost, III.98-99). Victor, however, as God's
stand-in, has no assurance that his Creature is without flaw. Having
constructed him from whatever bodily parts he could lay his hands on (and
without any particular nicety that they even be human), Victor presumes a
correlation between body and soul, both being corrupt. In theological
terms, however, such a vision of God as the creator of evil is
fundamentally heretical, for it would hold God directly responsible for
human depravity. Victor's chain of thoughts does not extend so far as
openly to convict himself of the responsibility for the evil he assigns
his Creature. Yet, his sudden sense here of their twin relationship does
suggest the glimmer of that terrible truth the novel will slowly
Johnson's 1755 Dictionary
represents the verb to deprave with an uncharacteristic lack of
To vitiate; to corrupt; to contaminate.
The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, registers
historical and theological shifts in usage:
depravity An extension of pravity (ad. L. pravitas)
previously used in same sense, after deprave and its derivatives. (No
corresponding form in Latin or French.)
The quality or condition of being depraved or corrupt.
a. Perverted or corrupted quality. Obs.
b. Perversion of the moral faculties; corruption, viciousness, abandoned
c. Theol. The innate corruption of human nature due to original sin.
Often total depravity: In common use from the time of Jonathan
Edwards: the earlier terms were pravity and
d. A depraved act or practice.
1. Rendered bad or worse; perverted, vitiated, debased, corrupt. Now chiefly
of taste, appetite, and the like.
2. spec. Rendered morally bad; corrupt; wicked.