"Wretch" is the first term Victor applies to his Creature (1.4.1), as well as his appellation for him
at his reappearance two paragraphs before (2.2.3). It is apt that the creature thus
picks up this resonant word and by shifting its form alters its meaning.
For her debut as a novelist Mary Shelley adopts a daring and difficult but
brilliantly successful strategy, keeping the Creature out of sight for
most of Volume 1 while Victor heaps terms of abuse on his felt presence
and renders him for the reader the monster he is wont to call him. The
urbane calm of the Creature's opening statement, "I expected this
reception," is a startling reminder of just how much Victor, in his
narration of his story, has skewed the perspective on its events. In
effect, the Creature takes the opportunity of his finally being heard to
rename, to reconceptualize, himself. And the reader is left hanging in
doubt -- perhaps, even distrust -- about rendering a verdict from having
listened only to one side of the case.
- Critical Approaches: