Discuss the elements of context in Frankenstein, particularly, how the ideas of disruption and identity are explored.
Mary Shelley??™s ???Frankenstein??? clearly develops and explores the critical ideas of disruption and identity through means of literary forms and features, as well as the historical, literary and personal context reflected in the novel. These ideas are supported by the composer??™s portrayal of the main thematic concern of the novel, that is, the consequences of man playing god via the abuse of science.
The idea that disruption is a result of society??™s blind abuse of science is explored through the resulting occurrences of the protagonist??™s actions in the novel. Victor Frankenstein suffers an unfortunate interruption to his life and his state of mind after not realizing the consequences of man playing god. This is demonstrated through Victor??™s warning to Walton: ???But I- I have lost every thing and cannot begin life anew.??? This portrays how his life has become disrupted as a result of the ???dangerous??¦ acquirement of knowledge???. Victor??™s act in creating the monster serves as a basis for his mental collapse and disruption after the deaths of William and Justine in the opening chapter of volume two ???I was seized by remorse??¦ to a hell of intense tortures??¦deep, dark, deathlike solitude. I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer.??? The composer??™s use of harsh consonants in ???seized??™ and ???tortures??™ as well as alliteration, heightens the intensity of Victor??™s madness, thus reflecting the romantic context in which it was composed. As Victor begins to question his deeds, he sinks lower into a mental state of disorder. This representation of madness also reflects the gothic context, as the archetypal gothic hero displays these qualities. This representation of context further enhances the exploration of the idea of disruption
[ In considering the historical paradigms of the time in which ???Frankenstein??? was written, a deeper meaning of disruption is created through the text. The 1800??™s setting of the novel is crucial in developing this idea, as it is set in the time of change and disturbance that was the industrial revolution. Mary Shelley wrote ???Frankenstein??? as a response to the dehumanization and disruption of society ]..
Through Shelley??™s utilization of language forms such as structure, the idea of disruption is explored indirectly. The very form of this narrative structure reflects elements of disruption, as it was composed in a non-linear style with 3 different levels of interdependent recounts. This epistolary narrative form creates a sense of disjointedness and disorder, which further enhances the composer??™s message of the disruptive nature of science. Additionally, this structure illustrates different levels of perceptions without a single authoritative voice, thus allowing the reader to make their own judgment on the occurrences in the text. This freedom of thought and judgment reflects the Romantic philosophy as people of the time valued free thought.
Through Shelley??™s portrayal of the underlying themes of the novel, the idea of disruption is successfully illustrated and explored in the text. In the early chapters of the novel, Victor Frankenstein??™s mother dies. This is a symbolic means of communicating the upset and disorder of the natural balance due to Victor??™s ambitions in science. Since Victor has taken the role of the creator of life, there is now little need for mothers in the dystopian world of ???Frankenstein???. Furthermore, Shelley demonstrates this ignorance to consequence through Victor??™s very short description on his mother??™s death: ???My mother was dead, but we still had duties which we ought to perform???. Shelley??™s use of the word ???but??? acts as an ???eraser??™ to negate all depths of meaning from the first part of the sentence. This event is described in a mere paragraph, demonstrating the insignificance of this occurrence in the novel while exploring the element of the disruption to the natural order of his family. This is a clear reflection of the underlying message of ???science run a muck??™ and thus demonstrates the idea of disruption in the text.
The idea of identity is communicated through, and explored in the text by the composer??™s utilization of literary devices such as characterization and portrayal of relationships. Victor Frankenstein??™s direct correlation with his creation is evident throughout the novel, for instance, Victor and the creature share qualities of intelligence. This is clear from the beginning of the novel as Shelley describes Victor??™s success in his studies, and also in Volume II, where the creature very quickly learns from the De Lacey??™s about wood, language and even society. Both Victor and the creature live in solitude, develop a sense of self-loathing, and also share the need for a connection with the natural world for romantic happiness. Shelley??™s clever use of the ???double??™ or ???doppelganger??™ clearly emphasizes these qualities in the characters, while also exploring the idea of identity. Additionally, the ???doppelganger??™ idea originated from the Gothic era, which furthers the contextual meaning of the text. Shelley??™s use of the double also extends to Walton, as many parallels exist between the two characters. The reader first discovers this in Letter III of the novel ???I will be cool, persevering and prudent??¦ success shall crown my endeavours.??? This is a direct parallel to the young Frankenstein??™s arrogance and ignorance, heightening the reader??™s perception of identity in the novel.
The exploration of identity is fuelled through Shelley??™s positioning of Henry Clerval as Victor Frankenstein??™s foil. This character clearly illuminates the exaggerated egotistical and determined qualities of Victor Frankenstein, and thus enhances this character??™s identity. Henry Clerval is highly interested in the arts, jovial, caring, and fond of learning a variety of subjects for the sake of learning, whereas Victor worked in seclusion and only studied for his own personal gain in creating life. In chapter II Shelley conveys a strong contrast between the two characters ???Noble spirit of Clerval??¦ so perfectly humane, so thoughtful??? This is almost a binary opposite from Victor, as he is portrayed as inhumane in his mistreatment of his creation, his ???child??™. Shelley??™s use of a foil further explores the idea of identity as it suggests how identity is created from character relationships.