Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Many people have come to know Frankenstein as an 8ft tall monster created by a mad scientist. This story has been shown in cartoons and movies over the years. Until I read the book myself, I was among the ones who envisioned the monster as a hideous beast with bolts in his neck. The story is really about the life of Victor Frankenstein. Victor was a brilliant man who strived to gain scientific knowledge. He eventually discovered the secret in which he could successfully reanimate life from lifelessness. He worked hard and spent all of his time conducting experiments using organs from various dead men to create a monstrous being. He became so obsessed with his creation that he failed to realize the consequence??™s until it was too late.
Victor??™s creation did not have a name. It was referred to as monster, daemon, devil, and fiend among many others. At first, the monster was caring, gentle, and as curious as a child. Due to its appearance, it was rejected by society into a life of loneliness and despair. It eventually became vengeful toward the one who created him; vowing to do whatever was necessary to gain revenge. According to Carina Brannstrom, ???Mary Shelley??™s novel is above all about the theme of alienation and the innocent victims affected by it.???
Victor seemed to have a great life as a child growing up. He was surrounded by family and friends, and had parents who supported him in any way they could. The opportunity for college was given to him even though his father disagreed with his studies. It was appalling to me when Victor alienated himself away from family and friends in light of his discovery. Although I did not have the family support when I was growing up, I consider myself fortunate to have a happy life. There are numerous people out there whom are not as fortunate. Some really did not have any support, but there are people like Victor who took it for granted. As a result, he spent the end of his days by himself trying to destroy the monster. Of course that was one of many consequences of his actions.
The story illustrates isolation not only through Victor, but also through Walton as well as the monster. The monster did not choose isolation, and wanted nothing more to just be accepted by society. I agree with Brannstrom when she said that Walton is the most important character in the story. His isolation was different form Victors and the monsters. Walton had a formidable reason for his isolation due to his quest to the North Pole. The difference is his better understanding of the consequences, and his judgment. In the end of the book he retreated from his quest because of the danger to his crew.
I read another essay by Harriet Hustis about Victor being not only the creator, but a father figure as well. In a since, the monster was like an innocent child in need of support and direction. Victor fled at the sight of the monster leaving it to its own devices. Through its encounters with other human beings, the monster only learned about fear, hate, isolation, and oppression. That is what drove it to violent nature. That scenario made me think of my oldest son always being on the honor roll. My wife and I are very much involved in his school work every day. We also read with him and encourage him to read which he has grown to love. In a way, I can relate to the monster. I never had support growing up and my grades where terrible; however, I did learn from that experience, and turned it around in raising my own children.
I think the monster was sincere when it asked Victor to create an equal to itself. It longed to be accepted and cared for. It promised to stay away from the sight of man and to create a life of solitude with his new companion. At the end of the book the monster ends its life in a selfless manner to prevent this tragedy from reoccurring. That gave me the notion that it would have been true to its word. Victor again renounced his responsibility to his creation making the situation worse. Even though he could not predict the outcome of making another creature, he still may have prevented further tragedy. Victor should have given more thought to the consequences of his actions in the first place, but he continues not to invoke any responsibility for his actions; or, for the best interest of his own creation. He truly was a villain like the monster. Victor is solely responsible for what became of the monster and its will for vengeance.
The need to belong is most pronounced in the character of the monster who wants nothing more than to be accepted and cared for. Through the thoughts and actions of the monster Frankenstein created, the need to be connected to something of something is well illustrated in Mary Shelly??™s novel. That is the main circumstance as to why the monster was driven to madness in the first place. Unfortunately this concept still exists today. Yesterday I watched a documentary on the Discovery Channel about the solitary confinement of prisoners. Human beings by nature are social creatures. I witnessed the effects it had on inmates who were sometimes left months at a time in solitary confinement. In some cases they were driven to madness, doing things like consuming and smearing their own feces all over the cell in which they were kept. They also would through urine at the guards just to be taken out of the cell. They did this so they had some kind of interaction with another human being. The interaction was unpleasant of course, but it was still a form of contact. I immediately thought of the monster. Shelly??™s novel was fiction, but she illustrated many situations that happen in real life.
Another theme I noticed in the book was the desire for knowledge and glory. Victor and Walton illustrate this perfectly. The only difference between the two was the way in which it was conducted. Walton was wise to the consequences where Victor was not. Walton??™s passions did not outweigh the wellbeing of others. My inspiration for this essay came from the novel, along with the writings of Brannstrom and Hustis. I believe Mary Shelly used some of her own live experiences from her own life. Before the story she talked about her childhood and what it was like growing up. She also spoke of her mother??™s death along with her miscarriage as well of the events that took place in the summer of 1816.
Carina Brannstrom. The Analysis of the Theme of Alienation in Mary Shelly??™s Frankenstein
Harriet Hustis. Responsible Creativity and the ???mo dimity??? of Mary Shelley??™s Prometheus
Mary Shelley. Frankenstein