What, in this bicentenary year of Frankenstein, are we to make of the creature, the monster, his sadness, his melancholy, his ceaseless call for a voice? The media have been hounding me all day (because I am an expert? because I am a monster?) for my views on sympathy for the devil. I say we are all entitled to a fair hearing, but the naive questions come thick and fast. Are we speaking of human rights? of animal rights? The creature is neither, but more importantly he blurs the distinction – as should we all: we are are all human (are we?) and we are all animal. Mary and Percy Shelley thought long and deeply about that; we seem to find it surprising, as though we have invented ecology. My answer could be that the creature has the rights that all created beings have, except that when I watch the TV news it seems to me as though we have no rights at all. The creature stands in for so many of us: slighted, cheated, fed lies, denied basic comforts, turned out into a hostile place. The creature is, of now, the refugee: what rights do we imagine we shall grant?

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