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... y 109). As the monster contemplates the rejection he has just suffered, a transformation takes place, his innocence and good will are quickly replaced with new emotions he has never before experienced such as desertion, rage and hatred. I continued the remainder of the day in my hovel in a state of utter and stupid despair. My protectors had departed and had broken the only link that held me to the world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them, but allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death...
these thoughts vanished with a gush of tears that somewhat soothed me. But again when I reflected that they had spurned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage of anger, and unable to injure anything human, I turned my fury towards inanimate objects. (Shelley 133) The De Lacey family had represented the family the monster never had. He learned all his socialization skills, values and occupational skills from them. It is human nature for a child to imitate the actions of those around him, but is it our nature to seek the good qualities of mankind, like the monster did?
If the monster had a parental figure to nurture him, perhaps he would have been able to handle his rejection easier without resorting to such violent and bitter emotions. Yet there was nobody to teach him these emotions, which leads one to ask, does mankind inherently possess these negative emotions, which may be drawn out at times of despair? It is unclear if the nature of the monster is that of a human being or and entirely new species, and what exactly his orientation towards them is. Therefore Shelley leads the reader to contemplate the nature of human beings and our predispositions, and the role in which a family plays in the expression of an individuals emotions and their system of values. The novel begins with the words of Robert Walton, an explorer traveling through the Arctic Region. The isolation expressed by Walton in his letters to his sister demonstrate his desperation for a companion in the this desolate region.
In one letter he writes, "I have no friend, Margaret... I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine" (Shelley 17). The isolation Walton feels is a direct result of his actions. In the midst of Walton's loneliness, Frankenstein is rescued from the isolation of the Arctic, and boards the ship. Robert and Frankenstein quickly discover the similarities of their lives, both share a strong emotional tie with their sister, were in a sense, self educated. Most importantly, they share an adventurous spirit which has led them to challenge God and the laws of nature, thus bringing them to their current isolation.
Perhaps if Robert and Victor had close relations with their families, they would not have chosen to isolate themselves. Would they have been able to fight the nature of adventurous spirit, or was it developed due to the neglect they suffered form their families? Robert opening the book is significant in the fact that he appears to serve as a symbol of the path that Frankenstein should have chosen, and as a medium to gather a moral from the life of Victor Frankenstein. Upon realizing their similarities Victor warns the nave Robert, You seek for knowledge as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be serpent to sting you as mine has been. I do not know that the relation of my disasters will be useful to you; yet, when I reflect that you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the same dangers which have rendered me what I am, I imagine that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale; one that my direct you if you succeed in you undertaking and console you in case of failure... Were we among the tamer scenes of nature I might fear to encounter you unbelief, perhaps your ridicule; but many things will appear possible in these wild an mysterious regions which would provoke the laughter of those unacquainted with the ever-varied powers of nature; ... (Shelley 29) The imagery of the environment that provides the isolation which the first encounter of Walton and Frankenstein occurs, is significant because Walton opens the novel.
Who could possibly be better to open the novel, than a character suffering from similar physical and emotional isolation, the story will thus be told using a similar point of view. Mary uses Walton and Frankenstein to represent her secret wishes that she had chosen a different road to follow, and perhaps her inner turmoil of whether or not she or her family is responsible for her current lifestyle. Through letters written to his sister, Walton narrates Frankenstein's tragic tale. Once again, there is no female narration.
It is understandable that Frankenstein is comfortable telling his story to another male, it is ones nature to be comfortable with those of you own kind. In the same sense the story is told though the same set of eyes as Frankenstein. In society, and in a family males and females are raised with different value systems and taught different roles they will eventually fulfill. If they story had been retold though they eyes of a female, would the story have been told differently? It is symbolic that a male is relating the story to a female, implying that the life of a male needs to be explained to her; she would not understand it. Mary Shelley expresses her outrage of the label placed on the comprehension of females in her time and the need society has to shelter and protect them.
Throughout the course of the novel, Victor portrays himself as an innocent victim. He feels that all his suffering is because of the monster. It is human nature that when one has been attacked and cornered, they recoil and claim they are the innocent party, I the same fashion Frankenstein has; not once in the course of the novel has he taken responsibility for his actions. The monster, if given the opportunity to narrate the story, and give his account of events would probably explain things differently. He felt that due to the deficiency of family in his life and the lack of parental guidance on the part of Frankenstein, he was subsequently led to the life of an antagonist. Robert sympathizes with Frankenstein because he is telling the story and because of their relationship.
But would a neutral party such as the crew have sympathized with Victor or have found fault in his actions? Considering the fact that Robert, Frankenstein and Mary share such similar relations with their family, Shelley could be demonstrating her bitter feelings towards her father for betraying her and making her the victim. In the novel, there lay other sub themes that support the main theme of nature vs. nurture, a result of family life.
The first theme presented in the novel is the question, do parents shape their child's personality or is their personality something they " re born with? In the beginning of the novel, Frankenstein's father did not take a great interest in Victor's fascination with more archaic forms of science. As a result, Frankenstein pursued his studies more earnestly than he had previously. If his father had intervened and taken an interest in Frankenstein's studies, directing him toward a more realistic path, would Frankenstein, due to his stubborn and adventurous nature, have followed his own interests regardless or his fathers intervention? Most likely Frankenstein did not want to be like his father, ironically he ended up treating his "child" just like Alfonso treated him. Had Frankenstein subconsciously embodied the persona of his father, or was he merely born with the same characteristic as his father, and they were brought to the surface upon the "birth" of his creation?
Considering the fact that themes are a reflection of reoccurrence's and lesson learned in life, Mary Shelley could be using the characters to express her own confusion regarding her relationship with her parents and her identity. Mary and her mother, both devout feminists, shared the ideals of a liberated woman, however Mary was not influenced by her mother in her opinions, because she died during child birth. Mary also despised radicalism and all it stood for, ironically her father, who was in her life as she grew up was a radicalism. The characters illustrate Shelley's confusion of the nature of her identity and the origins of her opinions, considering the fact that she is similar to her mother, although she was not raised by her and contrary to her father her helped raise the young Shelley. Whenever Henry Clerval is mentioned in the novel, it is only in the highest regard that he is referred to ."..
so thoughtful in his generosity, so full of kindness and tenderness amidst his passion for adventurous exploit... made doing good the end and aim of his soaring ambition" (Shelley 37). Ironically, when the monster requests that Frankenstein create a companion for him, Frankenstein declines, denying him of a friend to spend the days with, the exact thing that Frankenstein holds so dear himself. When the monster murders Henry, Frankenstein's morale worsens and he is characterized as a deranged lunatic, driven by the loss of his best friend. Robert is also suffering from the loss of friendship.
Upon his departure from his homeland, Robert feels lonelier as the days pass, he writes to his sister saying, .".. But I have one want which I am unable to satisfy; and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe unit. I have no friend... " (Shelley 17). Due to her eccentric lifestyle, Mary Shelley led a lonely life with few close friends and finds a companion in a married man, and a dysfunctional relationship quickly develops.
In Frankenstein, Mary destroys the only stable friendship in the novel, while other characters are all in search of a friendship. Mary purposely sabotages their relationship, expressing the anger she feels because she did not have any true friends and did not feel others should have something she herself is deprived of. She goes so far as to describe the lack of friendship as something evil. Consider the fact that upon the creatures rejection from the De Lacey family the monster experiences a metamorphosis from good to evil. This rises the question of the monster's nature, was the monster inherently evil? In this particular example the monster symbolizes humanity.
Are humans born with evil tendencies, and only through example and nurture are we taught to control our emotions? These question raise yet another theme, is companionship a basic necessity that all human beings require to live a healthy life? Through her controversial novel Frankenstein Mary Shelley brings up many issues that often went unspoken during her time. Such issues include her feminist views which were demonstrated in the interactions of the characters towards the women, and the lack of female narration, as well as the search for a female companion. Though her gothic novel and horrific descriptions, Mary defied romanticism and radicalism. The use of scientific technology and concepts helped the enforce and popularize the scientific revolutions that was stirring throughout Europe, thus reflecting the time period she lived in.
Through theses devices as well as foreshadowing, characterization, imagery, and most prevalently narration and symbolism the concept of nature vs. nurture is the backbone of the novel. This concept extends itself to the relationship of parent and child, the need of companionship, the nature of human beings and the role of females and males in society. Using evidence from the novel, one can determine that Mary Shelley's use of symbolism and narration in her novel Frankenstein reflect experiences from her own life and support the prevalent theme of nature vs. nurture, a result of family life.
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Research essay sample on Mary Shelley Frankenstein The Basic Role Of Family