Beauty Is Defined As A Combination Of Qualities
Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. In a world where we value the visual beauty of things so highly, it causes us to potentially lose the deeper and more substantial beauty the world has to offer. The story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, questions the true concept of beauty.
It dares to ask the question, can one’s physical appearance halt the opportunity for relation to others? I say yes, each character’s physical attraction has much to do with the way they were treated, and how they perceived the world.
Beauty tends to play a major role in how the Monster’s world is perceived. All humans crave to be accepted. The Monster is no exception, but the minute the Creature comes alive, he is given his first taste of the beauty-bound world he was thrusted into. Victor’s first lines after witnessing his creation, Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room… (Shelley 35) show just how painful the world was for the Monster. The very first breath of life the Monster takes comes right before his creator runs off disgusted by what he made. The creature was born into a world where he had nothing. He has no relatives or friends, nor acceptance. Although, this is not the only instance we can see this.
When the Monster first sees the family in the cottage, he attempts to learn their language, hoping to be accepted. I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master of their language(80) He literally hopes to be able to Discover himself within the family. He hopes to learn more about the life that he could live, soley through their acceptance. But this acceptance would be much harder to achieve being that each time he’s made himself known to them, it’s led to him being ousted and attacked. Society’s set expectations of what we see as beautiful and physically attractive can sometimes be seen as wrong and more harmful than helpful.
Beings like the Monster tend to be set lower on our sense of humanity because of their first glance. Society tells us what is beautiful and we just compare the things we see based off that expectation. Participants construct and pursue beauty ideals by mirroring views of their national identity through conformity and identification.(Smith) It’s the environments around us that create the standard we have for what is beautiful in this world. The Monster, unfortunately, does not fit that description. Due to his lack of beauty, the Monster is forced to live a life with the assurance that he may never be accepted in the world. He will forever be an outcast and an abomination to those around him.
The Monster’s acceptance into the world and that of the Frankenstein family contains great dichotomy due to their appearances. In the case of Elizabeth, her beauty was a major reason for her assimilation into the Frankenstein family. a child fairer than pictured cherub”a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks and whose form and motions were lighter than the chamois of the hills. (Shelley 17) It is important to ask whether this same situation would have taken place if Elizabeth hadn’t been so fair and radiant? We can also see this in the story of Justine. Her story is quite similar. When her father passes, she is later brought into the Frankenstein family as was Victor’s mother. One characteristic that is shared among each of the Frankenstein women is how they each are described with some type of illustrious, undeniable beauty.
But what if they weren’t? What if they each did not fit the societal standard of beauty? Would they have been accepted into the family? Would they live the happy and successful lives they were able to for so long? Studies show that people who are physically attractive have an easier life than less attractive people (James) Without the beauty each of these women posses, it is hard to say whether or not they would live the luxurious lives they’ve been able to. Although the point can be made that their beauty played a part in how they were treated. In comparison to the Monster, his appearance only cause him more strife. It set him on a track to pain and failure, as opposed to the success and happiness the Frankenstein women were able to find.
It is only through their physical attraction that they were able to find happiness, and only through the Monster’s lack thereof, that he could never find the same. Although in society beauty is deemed purely physical, it is important to look at this perception, and examine its flaws openly. This perception causes one to lose focus of the important things in life. During Frankenstein’s creation of the monster, he becomes infatuated with the beauty of creating life. In his obsession with the unknown, he begins to deteriorate physically he loses I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit.(Shelley 33).
Even when he acknowledged his issue with his family And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I have not seen in a long time (33) and the loved ones around him, Frankenstein’s greed for the beauty of life affected his conscious. He turned into a beast in his own way. Allowing Justine to die for his creation and the same for his wife and Father. The ending to Frankenstein showed the truest dilemma from the beginning. The monster’s own physical lack of beauty was overshadowed by that of his mind and heart. The care he showed towards others, even when they rejected him completely, made of for his lack of physical beauty. The determination he showed to grow and develop his own mind and sense of consciousness.
He became more beautiful than Frankenstein could ever be. It is argued that beauty judgements should be understood as relative to persons and their contexts.(Hilhorst) Beauty should be looked at solely in terms of a person’s personality and the context in which it takes place. Although, One thing cannot be denied: the creature is exceedingly ugly (Gigante 565), the Monster should not be seen as such, deep down as well. The concept of beauty is one that has been debated in the minds of intellectuals and layman everywhere. But how much weight does it truly have in our world?
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein argues that beauty should not only be skin deep. It should go beyond the superficial expectations that society perpetuates, and into a more meaningful realm. Through her writings, Shelley is able to address the pains and struggles one may endure when not deemed the world’s expectation of Beauty. She throws her monster into an endless life of fear of himself and those around him. Thus showing the impact one’s beauty has on their relation to themselves and those around them.
The Role of Appearance on Social Acceptance
Within the gothic novel Frankenstein; Or the Modern Prometheus, appearance is critical to being accepted by society. When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? (Frankenstein, 105). This familiar quote, spoken by the monster conveys the discriminating yet, the inevitability of judgment that the monster faces in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein; Or the Modern Prometheus. Throughout the novel, there are multiple prominent instances where social acceptance is based solely on appearance.
First, Elizabeth proves evidential in this case and secondly, the more obvious and prominent instance, Victor Frankenstein’s creature. The creature is one of the central characters of the novel who, overall represents mankind and their experiences with social acceptance throughout life. The readers of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are taken on the journey through which this no-named creation is abandoned by his creator yet, only longs to be loved and understood. This journey reinstates that regardless of one’s personality, the underlying message conveys that society’s judgment of an individual is based solely on physical appearance. The issue of acceptance is easily perceived in Mary Shelley’s novel.
For instance, Mary Shelley first acknowledges the idea of social acceptance based on physical appearance regarding Elizabeth Frankenstein. Subsequently, Caroline Frankenstein adopts Elizabeth as she’s one of five from a poor Italian family. More symbolically, Caroline chooses her as she notices Elizabeth’s an unusually beautiful little girl who was unlike the rest. Furthermore, Victor describes her immediate response by stating, there was one which attracted her above all the restshe was thin, fair and had golden hair and blue eyes (43). Additionally, the author successfully gives credit to the idea of social acceptance by using beauty to demonstrate that regardless of one’s personality, he/she will primarily be judged based solely on physical appearance.
More specifically, her presence had seemed a blessing to them, Caroline went as far to say, but it would be unfair to her to keep her in poverty and want when Providence afforded her such powerful protection (43). In other words, because Elizabeth was unusually beautiful, she did not deserve to continue living in poverty. Instead, Elizabeth deserved a life as righteous as her beauty. Therefore, this dialogue ultimately contributes to the overall theme that judgment is inevitable for every person because humans are predisposed to judge others based on their physical appearance.
Additionally, the author successfully uses Frankenstein’s creation to illustrate that facing society’s judgment is inevitable, regardless of one’s personality characteristics. This allegory is witnessed as Victor Frankenstein states I began the creation of a human being (54). A short, yet powerful statement that demonstrates Victor Frankenstein’s intentions to create a human being. While Victor does succeed in creating a living being, he is ultimately horrified by his creation. More explicitly, Victor states, I had desired it…but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart (58, 59). Prior to this wake-up call, Victor sought pleasure in knowledge and creating a beautiful life. However, his creation’s arrival only disgusted him as he based his first impression entirely on his creation’s monster-like appearance.
Additionally, Victor describes his creations arrival more vividly by stating the following:
A flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me: its
gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity,
instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom I had given life (60).
Again, before the creature is given a chance to speak, Victor makes a snap judgment based on the appearance of the creature. Ultimately leading Victor to arrive upon the decision to run away. Victor doesn’t consider his creation a human because of how hideous its appearance is. Moreover, these various scenes deliver an even greater realization; although one might not be aesthetically pleasing on the outside, their personality does not correlate to physical appearance. Once again, another powerful message within Frankenstein denoting the prominent theme that physical appearance shouldn’t determine how virtuous an individual is, rather the good deeds and selfless apparent acts.
Moreover, additional confirmation to support the argument derives from the reaction of civilians to Victor’s creation. Victor has overlooked and forgotten what repercussions his creation has had on not only his personal life, but the everlasting impact his behaviors have had on his creation and those around him as well. Consequently, until Victor’s creation met a blind man by the name of Mr. De Lacey, he had never known what acceptance felt like. Without the gift of sight, Mr. De Lacey saw Victor’s creation in a way nobody else could, he based his first impressions off of the creature’s personality. Meanwhile, in a different instance, the monster saves the life of a woman who fell into the river. Instead of receiving gratitude, the creature was shot. These two instances further exhibit the lack of social acceptance based on the creature’s physical appearance. As a result of the ongoing social isolation, the creature states the following:
All men hate the wretched; how then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living
things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us (83).
Ultimately, through this enlightening dialogue, one can recognize the plot revolves around the overall theme of social acceptance and physical appearance. Once again, validating that the creature is judged upon his physical appearance, his oversized, monster-like statute. Moreover, the creature understands why people hate him, because of his appearance and monster-like physical features. Therefore, the creature begins to despise himself. Although the creature had been acting virtuously, upon the first appearance, he was visually unappealing and terrifying. Leading the creature to additionally state, I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but as deformed and horrible as myself (126). Because Victor’s creature appears different than the majority of individuals, he is ostracized and abandoned on multiple occasions. Undoubtedly, the novel affirms that consequently, everyone regardless of gender, age, life choices, and wealth all face the same initial judgment upon first meeting. Undeniably, this moment additionally represents the fact that a person’s looks fade out, except for the acts of benevolence.
In conclusion, the gothic novel remains a timeless piece of work depicting a powerful message signifying the idea that beauty does not make one individual better than another. Through the journey of Victor and his creation, the reader receives a vivid reminder that actions speak volumes, not appearance. Alternatively, this novel concurrently reinforces the idea that excessive pride will only trick one into thinking they have a personal advantage throughout life. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein can be viewed as an allegory with the power to remind readers that beauty runs deeper than the surface. Lastly, throughout Frankenstein, the reader formulates a greater understanding of the importance of internal beauty as opposed to physical appearance.
- Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851. Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus:
the 1818 Text. Oxford ; New York :Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
The Danger of Knowledge in Frankenstein
Knowledge, by definition, is the fact or condition of having information or of being learned (Merriam-Webster). Children and adults alike are always looking for more knowledge and to learn more about the world around them. It is always seen as something positive because who does not want to learn something? This point can be proven wrong.
Knowledge can be negative because a person might learn unjust or immoral things. One example of such invalidation is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, knowledge can be seen as a source of danger because characters fall victim to the pursuit of it which in the end causes harm to themselves and people that the love.
Knowledge starts from childhood and in Frankenstein Walton and Frankenstein were brought up similarly concerning their education. According to Walton, his education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading (Shelley 28). Through this, the audience knows that Walton’s education from the start was not looked upon well. In context with the rest of the letter, it is shows that his Father did not care about what he wanted and did not let him learn what he longed for. In a similar way, Frankenstein says the cursory glance of my father had taken of my volume had no means assured me that he was acquainted with its contents; and I continued to read with greatest avidity (Shelley 46). Victor, similar to Walton, was looked down upon about his learning choices. Nevertheless, he continues to just learn what he wants and pursues what he is interested in.
Unlike Frankenstein and Walton, the Creature was brought up in an unconventional education, self-education. Walton and Frankenstein had materials and family to turn to when they were children and still learning. In contrast, the Creature learned the science of letters as it was taught to the stranger (Shelley 108). He had to learn simple things like the alphabet from scratch because he never knew anything. Through this one page, the Creature learns about politics, mannerisms, and religions of many nations. Frankenstein and Walton use their knowledge in a perversely but the creature reads as a method of self-examination and definition, as a way of making sense of himself and his experience of the world. (Englert).
In her article, Englert proves the Creature has learned for different reasons. He does not try to learn more about something he is personally interested in. He learns to assimilate and become one with the surrounding people. Knowledge isn’t just something for him to learn, but it is a way to learn how to live in harmony with others. This knowledge, in the end, does him more harm than good.
Through the novel Victor’s journey progresses and slowly his pure intentions for knowledge soon turn impure and he falls to the lust of knowledge. While in Ingolstadt, Victor clung to the hope which the next day or the next hour might realise (Shelley 57). He clung to the hope that his work would succeed after countless times of failure. During his study time he became like a hermit, secluded and obsessed with his work. Slowly he grew stir-crazy and threw himself into his work hoping he would discover how life was discovered. According to Virginia Brackett in her article Frankenstein, Victor has forgotten the value of education, instead turning to his obsessions and gaining only perversion through his knowledge (Brackett, 2012). He lost the true reason to his research and instead his knowledge grew perverse. This perversion created the Creature and eventually he will be surrounded by the loss of all his loved ones.
Unlike Victor, the Creature did not fall off the path of knowledge, but knowledge is the things that caused him to start killing. He learns more about the world and himself. He says I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with knowledge (Shelley 109). This quote comes after the monster reflects upon himself. His self-reflections are very negative, and his sadness grows as he sees what a wretched outcast (Shelley 117) he was. This self-loathing can drive anyone mad and indeed it turned the Creature mad. Through his new knowledge from Paradise Lost, his painful experiences force him to recognize Satan as a fitter emblem of [his] condition. The creature finds selfhood and purpose in a plan of eternal hatred and revenge (Englert 2010). The Creature reads this book and relates himself to pure evil. This relation is the one that drives his plan for revenge, which is hurting all of his creator’s loved ones. This is the purest example of a character falling off the path of knowledge and turning to a primal like thing.
With Walton, his case in similar to Victor’s in which he has isolated himself and is in pursuit of learning new things, but he does not fully fall off the path. His pursuit is to find new land and in doing so isolates himself, like Victor. He preferred glory to every enticement that wealth places in my path. In context this means that glory is above anything else someone can offer.
He is revealed to be quite ambitious like Frankenstein. In John R. Reed’s Will and Fate in Frankenstein, he points out that Walton was an example of an ordinary man possessed by a humanly extreme objective (Reed 1980). Reed points out that Walton was driven by a worldly want and did not think about his own source of suffering: isolation. On his journey he has no friend (Shelley 30). He has one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy (Shelley 30) and that one want is a friend. His crew are the only people there but they just are not enough since they will not understand his pursuit for glory.
Through the novel, Victor sees his loved ones and his life crash before him and through these tragedies he grew vengeful quite similar to the Creature. After all his loved ones have died Victor hurried away by fury; revenge alone endowed me with strength and composure (Shelley 172) goes to his loved ones graves and he is upset that they are dead and he lives.
Although Victor did degenerate into a vengeful man, he did grow as a person from the beginning of the novel. Through the loss of his loved ones, Victor shows that he has learned from his mistakes and that knowledge was his true demise.
Fictional Story About A Scientist Named
Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley is a fictional story about a scientist named Victor Frankenstein. He is an exceptionally intelligent young man, but he just needed help dealing with his inner demons. His experiment was to create a man and bring him back to life. But, his education did not work in his favor because he created a so called monster. Due to his new brain, the monster has a childlike behavior. He has to learn everything from watching others.
Victor never instructed his creation on how he should act or treat other people. Throughout his creations learning process, he ended up making some major mistakes. The mistake of killing other people. Which of course, he was never instructed on how much power he held, or that killing is wrong and permanent. This whole negative situation leads to the question of who the true monster is. The monster never asked to be created, so it is not his fault in that sense. But he was also never told to kill others. Both sides of the story have rough edges, but in reality the monster is Victor Frankenstein.
The true monster was not created within a new body, but rather he was created from the cruel mind of a man. One reason why Frankenstein is the true villain starts with his profession and the ideas that sparked from his evil mind. Though his science background called for him to be an experimentalist, it did not call for him to create such a being. They never instructed him to create something that could possibly be a disaster. During the process when things started to go awry, he should have taken that as a warning to stop creating the monster. But because he didn’t stop, he set up a horrible future for him and everyone around him. He himself even knew that once the monster came to life, it was a mistake.
How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. (Shelley 125) As seen in that quote, he described his creation as a catastrophe. He should have never even chose to make such a creature. Or he should have consulted with his professor or someone professional who could have helped him create something else. Victor also admitted that something possessed him to do such an act. Can you wonder, that sometimes a kind of insanity possessed me, or that I saw continually about me a multitude of filthy animals inflicting on me incessant torture, that often extorted screams and bitter groans (Shelley 160) He knew that what he did was out of the norm, but he did nothing to stop himself. If he just stopped when things started to go wrong, he could have prevented so many horrible incidents from occurring.
Another reason why he is at fault is because he was not involved enough post experiment. He never taught him right from wrong, which is an essential part of parenthood. Although he did not birth him, he is still his child by nature. Even if he did not have the time to sit him down and teach him about politics and things like that, he still should have protected him knowing his size and strength. He had the brain of a child, but he could overpower any man, woman, or child that he came across. Of course he did not mean to harm anyone simply because he did not know, but he did it multiple times.
When I reflected on his crimes and malice, my hatred and revenge burst all bounds of moderation. I would have made a pilgrimage to the highest peak of the Andes, could I when there have precipitated him to their base. (Shelley 170) In that quote, he shows remorse for the monster’s actions, but from then on he does nothing to change that. If the monster was properly taken care of by his father, then maybe he would not even be nicknamed a monster. The man that should have that nickname is no one else but Frankenstein. Something that should be noted is how Frankenstein was guilty. After it was said and done, he knew he was wrong. He knew he had to escape his reality by literally escaping. As explained in the story, he had to escape from his current home.
My departure was therefore fixed at an early date, but before the day resolved upon could arrive, the first misfortune of my life occurred”an omen, as it were, of my future misery. (Shelley 56) Victor had to leave because he could not face what he was feeling and what he did wrong. As seen in this quote, he admits to being the true murderer, which in essence is a monster. I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer. (Shelley 48) Frankenstein was quite content in his life. He had Elizabeth, and a good family and a quality education. As explained by another source, they talk about how Frankenstein had a nice life with no need to create a monster.
In contrast, Victor Frankenstein seems to be quite content in isolation (Traynelis) He was completely content being by himself, and if he stayed by himself, we can assume that such a tragedy would not have happened. He could have gotten the help that he needed, and he could have lived out the rest of his life peaceful. In conclusion, the fact is that the true monster is only categorized as a monster because of his looks and the actions that he did in his past.
But, if you look into the details, his looks and crimes committed are all in direct proportion to his creator, Victor Frankenstein. He is responsible and should be held accountable for everything that had happened in the story. If it was not for his ideas made in his deranged mind, nothing horrific would have ended up happening. He was a coward who had to run away from his problems because he could not handle them. He should be held accountable for everything that happened, starting with the creation of the beast.
Mary Shelley Was A Novelist
Mary Shelley was a novelist who wrote novels that are now looked at as literary concepts. Mary used life experiences to create novels that would be explained in many ways in time. Many saw these novel as enjoyable horrors while others viewed them as disgusting and freak show, only few actually understood the real meanings to the novels.
She wrote these novels to express herself and explain her life. Her mother was a writer as well but at the time they were not viewed the same. Many of her novels were later used on premises of rights for women and equal rights for others. Her novel Matilda looked at in the late 1950’s as a novel on equality, she had no intentions on it being looked at like that. Mary Shelley’s novels reflected on and drew forth the aspects of science and equality in society.To think that Mary had created her novels to convey that science and technology is something to be feared is outrageous.
Mary had a rough childhood and even harder teen years. Mary Wollstonecraft (her mother) died during childbirth. Her father after her mother’s death married Mary Jane Clairmont who is Shelley’s evil step mother forced her to leave the house at age fourteen. Shelley just like her mother became a novelist, her ideas and writings were all about her own life experiences. She was not trying to interoperate the novels as something that would happen in the future but more as putting science behind her stories to make them a different type of writing. Even though people did interoperate these novels with a sense of realty, it added to the time period where there was many scientific and technological advancements happening.
Mary read lots of books and articles which were mostly were on evolution, chemistry, and article exploration. In Frankenstein, Patricia Fara quoted a well known arctic explored named Robert Walton. The way he writes is the same ways in which Shelley writes. They are both writing about real life situations and how hard they were on their lives. Shelley tried to express herself in the ways of this quote by Robert Walton the wondrous power which attracts the needle… you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind to the last generation… by ascertaining the secret of the magnet. This quote was one way in which she tried to convey her opinions and her own experiences during her time period. The quote as well showed how she dealt with narrow minded people always looking down on her for thinking outside of the box.
She got this idea from when her father William Godwin was so caught up in caring about him financial situation that he didn’t even notice nor ask about Mary through her dark times in life. Mary wrote from real life experiences, whether they were the best or the worst trying to put her life into writing. Although many people took her writings into many different views and most had not understood what she was trying to convey that even the ones she held so close and thought would understand did not.Shelley wrote to look back on her life and to write about future too, in writing about the future she wanted to add in the idea of man as the creator and how it would change society.
One of her views was her Romantic aim to resuscitate organic speech and poetic utterance to overcome post enlightenment solipsism(Hyewon Shin). She believed that the best stories were when they were written or orally told and the listeners and readers felt like they were in the story and gave them the sense of realism which made it all more entertaining. The only thing during this time that was against her was the timing, it was the height of the printing era and she believed that it defied the way writing was meant to be. These beliefs were held so dearly to her contradicted society’s views with the aspects of technological advancements in printing. She believed that this took away from people being the creators themselves and them telling the story took them away from being human and more into the life of the characters.
As seen in Frankenstein man creating man can only make something new but something worse can only come from it, it also could change society for better or for worse. Some could say that Shelley was trying to warn us of this happening, but many also say that she never intended to write about the consequences of these actions, she was only trying to write about life itself. Though Shelley had many life problems she had ways of putting them into her writings in order to relate them to society.
She was also able to relate in which how money affected society. She saw how money changed her father and manipulated his life to revolve around and and took the place of loving for his family and how that being absent in his life they all drifted apart day by day.Mary did experience many life changing situations that expanded her knowledge but the one thing that stuck with her the most was her feminist views. Mary did grow up to be just like her mother; a writer and a woman’s advocate in a way.
Her writings did play a major role during the time as well. She added romanticism through some writings. One of the novels that became popular in the 1950’s was Matilda. It was a psychological analysis of the trauma rising from the juxtaposing of romanticism and feminism(Tilottama Rajan). It’s a short narrative of the trauma a girl goes through because her father has an incest love for her. The incest is the reason why her father did not publish the short novel. The trauma is supposed to relate to what Mary felt when Godwin was abandoning the family over money and Mary was dealing with the death of her own children.
Matilda is a beginning, middle, and end short novel and it is obvious that Mary was confused on where the writing was going and how it was relating to language of the monstrosity and abjection. With all the abjection and confusion it is truly unclear who is the abject thus making the no evil confusing on the actual point of it. The loss of a relationship to a masculine romanticism shows how she lost her father and her male influence. All these feelings Shelley had throughout her life made her a voice and activist for women’s rights and later in history equality for all.
Mary Shelley’s novels reflected on and drew forth the aspects of science and equality in society. Mary experienced many life changing situations that expanded her knowledge beyond others but one thing that stuck with her was her feminist views. To think that Mary had created her novel to create a fear behind science and technology is an outrage. Mary wrote to look back on her life but to also look into the future, in writing about the future she wanted to add in man creating man and how it would affect society. Mary Shelley wrote about real life situations as a way of putting her own touch on writing.
She wrote fictional novels and science fiction novels but they all had a meaning behind them that related to her real life experiences. Mary never had any intentions to make the novels something that people would read and fear what is going to come in the future, she was writing about her life experiences and with technology and science advancements during the time it was right for what was happening. Mary went through a lot in life with her father not caring about the family and only about money she bad no male model in her life which leaned her more towards fighting for women’s rights and equality for all.
Frankenstein Stereotypical Gender Analysis
Can gender stereotypes and assumptions be incorporated into literary characters? In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, published at first anonymously in London 1818, they are. The book tells the story of an alchemist named Victor Frankenstein and the monster he created while dabbling in occult sciences and natural philosophy. Additionally, it focuses on the interior life of Victor’s creation after his birth. Throughout the novel, Shelley depicts stereotypical gender roles through Victor, the monster, and other characters.
A place stereotypical gender thoughts can be seen is in Shelley’s portrayal of women. As the book plays out, the women are seen as weak individuals that depend on males. They are described as generous, selfless, and almost described to be saintly. Many of them are also perfect maternal figures, as many women were expected to be during that time. But, the women in this novel, although considered pure beings in the eyes of the men, are also continuously suffering for the actions and/or mistakes of men.
The first woman we encounter in Frankenstein that also shows gender stereotypes is Elizabeth Lavenza. She is described by Victor as a perfect individual but also as a thing that can be owned as she, early on, is betrothed to him by his/their parents. Frankenstein sees her as heaven-sent(Shelley, 20) and unflawed. Even when she was a small child, he describes her as,…a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks and whose form and motions were lighter than the chamois of hills,(20) in saying this, Victor is equating beauty with goodness. Shelley shows Elizabeth possessing maternal traits too, as quickly after Caroline passes away Elizabeth steps in and assumes the maternal figure in the household.
She begins to take on the various responsibilities Caroline once had, for instance caring for the children. Later in the story, Elizabeth suffers and dies because of Victor’s naivete and selfishness when he repeatedly believes that the monster he created is coming to get him as revenge even though there is a clear pattern in where the monster is targeting his next victim. The monster is following the pattern of hurting Victor through the sufferings of his loved ones like his brother William and Justine. If Victor had looked beyond himself, at the bigger picture, he could have noticed from the previous occurrences that Elizabeth, his future bride, would be the bigger target than himself.
Subsequently, the almost-creation of the female monster also brings forth gender stereotypes even though she was never technically born. To start, Victor decided to create a male monster, why not a female monster first? Victor must believe that the male gender is superior to the female gender. When Victor promises the monster a female companion for the male creature to be with he accepts, but when Victor is making her he is rethinking his decision.
He says,…She who, in all probability, was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation(Shelley 144). He is afraid of the free will that the female creature will have and that there is a possibility of this creature not being able to be controlled by the male monster that he previously created. He then sees he male monster looking at him work and destroys the female out of fear and enrages his first creation. In doing this he is showing how her creation was an easy thing to simply destroy because of his fear of a disobedient female.
Another occurrence of these stereotypes is the part telling the story of Justine. We are told that she is this selfless caring woman that has formed a strong relationship with the Frankenstein family after they take her in when her mother passes away. She is loved by Victor’s family as she has been with them since she was 12 and grew up with Victor. Although during her time with him and his family she acted as a servant they held her with equal respect and never treated her like she was below them. But although she was so loved by Victor she too suffered because of his actions.
Justine is accused of murder, the murder of William Frankenstein a boy whom she cared greatly for, and is found guilty and executed as a result of Victor’s selfishness and the creature’s want for revenge. The creature wanted revenge on women because he could not find love or companionship of a female because they are too frightened by his appearance. He also desperately wanted Victor’s love but is constantly denied it so if he cannot have his love, he wants his hate.
This leads him to plant framing evidence on Justine after he strangles William. The way Victor affects her is that he withholds critical information about his younger brother’s murder’s identity. Instead of telling people that it was not Justine who killed William, but the monster he created and let roam free, he keeps quiet and lets Justine die from a murder she did not commit. He acts selfishly in fear of being socially ruined. He is afraid of what the town’s people will think if he tells the truth so he stands by as Justine is executed instead of saving her.
In Shelley’s work, there are many clear examples of gender stereotypes. Throughout Frankenstein, every single female character is shown as a minor character supporting the story of a male. The way Shelley depicts each of the females present in this novel aligns with the roles that women are stereotypically expected to play. Elizabeth’s, the female creature’s, and Justine’s deaths caused by male narcissism all go to further point out these type assumptions commonly found in Shelley’s time.
The Blame Upon Victor Frankenstein
In the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, it is clear to lay the blame upon Victor Frankenstein. The definition of blame is the assignation of responsibility towards someone/something for a fault or wrong. Victor’s love and passion for science led to a monstrous idea and ended up killing three people.
While his pride was a driving force, abandoning the creature was not a smart move. Due to the fact that his idea was matched with the act of doing gives the right to put forth the blame. Clearly, Victor Frankenstein’s pride and hunger for recognition blinded his reasoning and abandoning the creature brought blame upon himself.
In light of the formation of the creature, Frankenstein’s pride pushed it further to existence. It all started during his childhood; natural philosophy changed the way he saw things and was purely obsessed with science. At age thirteen, Victor attended a party of pleasure to the baths near Thonon, where due to weather conditions, had to stay at an inn in which he founded the works of Cornelius Agrippa(a philosopher). He became intrigued; therefore sought to his father to show him the book, but his father turned it down calling it sad trash. Victor’s father was not scientific in the least and always turned to logic, whereas Victor thrived for science.
His father never understood Frankenstein’s passion for science, and so it drove Frankenstein’s desire for intelligence. My father was not scientific, and I was left to struggle with a child’s blindness, added to a student’s thirst for knowledge.(Shelley 36). Blind indeed Frankenstein was, but not from the lack of information given as a child; he was blinded by his own pride and the scarcity of judgement. Victor’s knowledge continued to grow as did his pride leading up to the creation of the creature. Wealth was an inferior object, but what glory would attend the discovery if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death! Nor were these my only visions.
The raising of ghosts or devils was a promise liberally accorded by my favourite authors, the fulfillment of which I most eagerly sought; and if my incantations were always unsuccessful, I attributed the failure rather to my own inexperience and mistake than to a want of skill or fidelity in my instructors. (Shelley 36). In this quote his pride shows by his obsession over the idea of the recognition from his accomplishment, not thinking of the whole picture. His focus was on him and what he could possibly bring to the table of science.
Frankenstein could be defined as a narcissist, fantasising over success, power, and brilliance, who takes advantage of others and has a hard time maintaining relationships; entitled. Since his only thoughts were on himself, it lead his pride take over, constructing a demolition. As shown above, Victor Frankenstein’s pride blinded his judgement, leaving him to blame upon the destruction.
Finally, his abandonment of the creature left it to live in fear and confusion, causing it to harm others. After fulfilling his goal (creating the creature), he was amazed by his creation at first, but when he observed all the details of its appearance he was disgusted and relentful. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.(Shelley 59). It was at that moment when Frankenstein made a terrible mistake; abandoning the creature. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep.(Shelley 59).
There are only two reasons thought of as to why he left it to fend for itself: pure shock and regret in his decision making, and repeating what his father did to him (cowardice). In the beginning of the book, just after his mother died his father sent Victor away to school to study his science. Instead of pushing Victor away during this depressing time, he should have kept him close and went through a time of mourning together as family. Since Victor had no understanding of what parenting is, like his father, he ran from his problem and had no intention of teaching it the ways of the world.
Due to his abandonment, the creature became angry, and scared. During this time, it led him to do bad things; kill people. Frankenstein then went to seek out the creature to be rid of him. Once he got ahold of it, the creature said, ?I expected this reception,’ said the daemon. All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.'(Shelley 113).
In this quote, the creature questions Frankenstein reason to why he brought him to life if all he wants to do is kill him and the rest of mankind sees it as this ratchet monster, essentially blaming him for creating him. While murdering people wasn’t the best idea, the creature didn’t know any better because it wasn’t conditioned/trained right from wrong. If Frankenstein would have taught the creature the ways of human life like polite mannerisms, basic education, and cognitive thinking, most likely the murders would not have taken place. Given these points, it is Frankenstein’s fault that his abandonment brought bitterness upon the creature, causing harm towards others.
In conclusion, Victor Frankenstein’s pride and hunger for recognition blinded his reasoning and abandoning the creature brought blame upon himself. His pride grew with the knowledge he obtained from his schooling and philosophers he read about, for example Cornelius Agrippa; therefore contributing to his narcissism and not thinking about the whole picture. Frankenstein also abandoned the creature leaving it to fester in anger and confusion towards his existence that it displaced its emotions on others, killing them. Ultimately, the blame should be laid on Frankenstein’s shoulders due to excessive pride and refusing his responsibility towards his creation, the creature.
Societal Representations in Frankenstein
The monster that Dr. Frankenstein created posed questions and concerns for both the society in the 1880s, when Mary Shelley wrote the book, as well as for our society in our current time. Questions regarding the responsible progression of scientific research and implementation existed in both societies and were represented in the book.
The Frankenstein Effect, which questions society’s role in fostering maladaptive traits in others existed at the time of the book and is still a question that begs to be investigated and realized. Thirdly, the loss of focus on the humanities as important for education was present in the book and is an ever-increasing concern today.
In the book, the monster instills fear in his creator, Dr. Frankenstein.
He fears the monster only after it is created, not during the creation process as seen here, the …first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds. then later, I beheld the wretch ” the miserable monster whom I had created (Shelly 4 & 5). This can be viewed as the fear that humans had regarding the increasing power of science to control life experiences, and to possibly control even life itself in the future. Today, are we forging ahead in our excitement of our scientific advancements without thinking carefully about the implications that may exist after their implementation?
We are advancing quickly in our ability to change the DNA structures of embryos, but have we carefully thought through the implications that such research and advancements could have on individuals and society as a whole? Nuclear arms, which are already in prevalent existence, are another example of forging ahead with advancements before realizing the frightening implications that exist when such arms wind up in the hands of terrorists or individuals without structured constraints and treaties. Now, the fear of how to navigate through the implications of the inventions of nuclear arms is similar to the fear experienced by Frankenstein trying to navigate the repercussions of his monster.
Questions regarding the Frankenstein Effect have also been raised by those reading the book in the 1880s as well as today. The Frankenstein Effect demonstrates to us a bit about humanity and disability (Harris). Is the monster created by nature or do we, as a society, create monsters by our treatment of those who look or think differently than what we perceive to be normal? If treated differently, with love, would the monsters of our society, such as the outcast and downtrodden, look differently?
Would people, feeling connection, love, and caring from their fellow humans, be able to successfully navigate the difficulties that nature and even nurture may throw their way from time to time? Would they be able to see hope in problems and difficulties without turning to vices such as drugs, alcohol, and violence? Would they be more productive and happier individuals if they didn’t feel depression from the disconnection they experience from judgmental, scared, isolating, and self-centered individuals (Harris)?
Concerns over losing the study of the humanities, and the important role that those have in shaping our culture and the growth of the individual were also raised by the book. The monster used the readings of the various texts to enable his thoughts and his feelings to grow. This may reflect a fear in society of the effects of the loss of the humanities as important. What will guide the development of our youth and our culture? What will be the standard against which we measure our own growth and understanding as individuals? The monster clearly stated that these various readings helped with his growth.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein holds many enduring, thought-provoking questions about people and societies, both during the time of her writing in the 1880s, as well as for our society of today. Is science out of control? Are we creating monstrous situations from toying with cloning and engineering embryos? Do we have effective measures to control against nuclear annihilation by our own creations with our own hands? Do we create our own monsters by separating and ridiculing those who might look or think differently than us? Does our fear create such monsters? Are we moving away from the important role that humanities play in the development of the individual and the culture as a whole?
Relationship Between Victor And Frankenstein
The next aspect that of the book that is important to my paper is the relationship between Victor and Frankenstein. To understand this, we first must understand each character. Victor is obsessed with the idea of recreating life.
After he fills this obsession, he falls into depression and fear due to how monstrous his creation turned out to be: I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited; where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as of it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life(Shelley, 36). He returns home after leaving school, only to find that tragedy had followed him home.
He then dedicates the rest of his life to destroying his creation, the very thing that fueled his curiosity and love for alchemy. Victor’s character reveals his internal romanticism, despite his obsession with the unnatural and synthetic life. Victor’s ambitions and desires emphasize aspects of romanticism. Victor’s dream to discover are shown in his childhood ideals: The world was to be a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature are among the earliest sensations I can remember(Shelley, 18). The Romantic viewpoint of innocent childhood dreams and thoughts before corruption can be seen throughout Victor’s tale, as well as his regret and horror at his ambition’s corruption. Victor’s interest in alchemy and his goals to alter nature itself forecasts his godlike opinion of himself and his abilities.
In the novel, Victor proclaims, By one of those caprices of the hand, which we are perhaps most subject to in early youth, I at once set down natural history which could never even step within the threshold of real knowledge(Shelley, 22), which can be connected back to the corruption of youth, as well as Victor’s elevated sense of his social superiority. Shelley emphasizes the dangers of alchemy and going against nature and by using Victor’s character as a symbol of the horrors and dangers of the unnatural and all views considered unromantic. With this being said, we cannot ignore the other aspects of Victor’s character that relate to a Gothic background, seeing as this paper is not dismissing of either genre.
Key aspects of a Gothic protagonist that can be seen in Victor are: an absolute goal or aim, links to the supernatural, and a tragic flaw. The first two are relating back to his love and curiosity of alchemy and his drive to create life. His tragic flaw, which is his ambition and God-complex, create his downfall and depressive state. Victor is his own downfall. Though the two genres work hand in hand for some of Victor’s character traits, Romantic ideals and characteristics more heavily impact his structure and roots. As for Frankenstein, he is chased and feared by society and denied by his creator, Victor.
This denial causes the monster to commit murder on Victor’s family, causing the chase between the two. Frankenstein can be seen as a Romantic hero because of the rejection he faces from society. Wherever he goes, he is chased away because of his hideous appearance and his huge size. Shelley uses this to show readers how many people in conventional society reject the less than average who live on the borders of our society. Shelley uses her writing to get a sympathetic response for a creature so misunderstood from the reader: The human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union. If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” (Shelley 173).
The monster tries to fit into a regular community, but because he is hideous to look at and does not know the social standards, he can never become part of mainstream society. Frankenstein tries to overcompensate for his lack of knowledge and isolates himself, except for when contact is necessary. Shelley also connects Frankenstein and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner several times in her novel to relate her misguided monster with Coleridge’s ancient Mariner, like in chapter 5 where Victor quotes, Like one, on a lonesome road who, Doth walk in fear and dread, And, having once turned round, walks on, And turns no more his head; Because he knows a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread(Shelley, 36).
Shelley intentionally relates her novel to one of the most genuine Romantic works and uses references all throughout her novel. Moving forward to examine the relationship between monster and creator, the characters seem to bridge the mortal world and the supernatural world. The Frankenstein monster seems to have a form of communication between himself and his creator, because the monster appears wherever Victor goes. The monster also moves with amazing speed, matching Victor in speed in the chase towards the North Pole. Thus, this aspect of relationship is gothic. Another important aspect of this relationship which falls under Romantic is the God-Adam roles they have. Religion is something that will be more heavily focused on later. Frankenstein is the Adam of this story and Victor is God. In the novel, Frankenstein comes across the Bible, reads the story in Genesis and compares himself to Adam. He is created by his master as a fulfillment of purpose and dream, only to be cast aside.
The temptations of the real world overcome him. For Victor, it is not satisfying enough to study philosophy and science and follow a respectable profession, he must perfect the role of the scientist by attempting to accomplish the impossible, a process which is inevitably flawed due to the fact that overstepping human boundaries has significant consequences. Shelley’s Frankenstein is not a mad scientist but a scientist who is passionate about the first questions of his time. In his Romantic search for scientific ideal, the perfect human, he creates a monster, who is held in check by systems that humans have created.
While these systems are more concrete and based in reality than the creation of the monster, they are equally imperfect. In a twist on the typical romantic text, which, ends on a thoughtful, meditative note, this novel ends with the characters having effected no significant resolution amongst themselves. They have all realized the impossibility of striving against the roles which they have been given in life, and they do not seem to be able to identify any other options for themselves. While this novel is a good example of the romantic period in that it uses a highly stylized and dramatized frame, more focused on the ideas of the fantastic and mystical than those of the real, the story becomes an allegory for very real emotions and struggles with which romantic writers were deeply preoccupied.
Clerval and Frankenstein
In their formative years, Henry Clerval and Victor Frankenstein lead parallel lives; they share experiences, morals, and a love for knowledge. When Frankenstein leaves for Ingolstadt, however, their once-similar traits and values diverge. Clerval remains generous and humane while Frankenstein becomes self-absorbed and irresponsible. Throughout Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Clerval’s role as compassionate caregiver contrasts with Frankenstein’s selfish personality, enhancing Frankenstein’s negligent nature.
Clerval acts selflessly upon his arrival at Ingolstadt, choosing to care for Frankenstein instead of attending his own classes. Clerval drops everything to help Frankenstein, even after struggling for months to gain permission to attend the university. Frankenstein says, “Henry was my only nurse. I afterwards learned that, knowing my father’s advanced age and unfitness for so long a journey, and how wretched my sickness would make Elizabeth, he spared them this grief by concealing the extent of my disorder. He knew that I could not have a more kind and attentive nurse than himself; and, firm in the hope he felt of my recovery, he did not doubt that, instead of doing harm, he performed the kindest action that he could towards them.” (Shelley 64). Clerval’s attentiveness to Frankenstein juxtaposes Frankenstein’s negligence in caring for his monster. Shelley paints a picture of irony as she describes Frankenstein, ill because he failed to take care of his monster in the very way that Clerval is taking care of him. Additionally, Clerval’s choice to withhold Frankenstein’s health problems from his family plays into the theme of secrecy. Clerval keeps this secret with benign intent; his sole goal is to protect Elizabeth and Alphonse from distress. Frankenstein is also secretive, but unlike Clerval, his suppression of information is putting his loved ones into danger. Frankenstein’s and Clerval’s uses of secrecy exhibit their differing priorities and levels of compassion.
Upon meeting his professors, Clerval feigns ignorance to reduce Frankenstein’s discomfort, even though Frankenstein refuses to tell him the real reason behind his poor health and depression. Frankenstein says, “Clerval, whose eyes and feelings were always quick in discerning the sensations of others, declined the subject, alleging, in excuse, his total ignorance . . . he never attempted to draw my secret from me; and although I loved him with a mixture of affection and reverence that knew no bounds, yet I could never persuade myself to confide to him that event which was so often present to my recollection but which I feared the detail to another would only impress more deeply.” (Shelley 72-73). First, Clerval delays his schooling to take care of Frankenstein, and then, while being introduced to his professors, he tiptoes around the subject of science to minimize Frankenstein’s stress. Clerval will clearly go to great lengths to protect Frankenstein, fulfilling his role as caregiver. The dichotomy between Frankenstein and Clerval grows stronger as Frankenstein fails to reciprocate Clerval’s sensitivity, leaving him in the dark about his dilemma.
Frankenstein’s negligent nature ultimately causes the death of Clerval. By insisting that they part ways in Scotland, Frankenstein greatly increases Clerval’s chances of becoming another of the monster’s victims. Frankenstein is well aware of the danger, saying, “I feared the effects of the daemon’s disappointment. He might remain in Switzerland and wreak his vengeance on my relatives. This idea pursued me and tormented me at every moment from which I might otherwise have snatched repose and peace . . . Sometimes I thought that the fiend followed me and might expedite my remissness by murdering my companion. When these thoughts possessed me, I would not quit Henry for a moment, but followed him as his shadow, to protect him from the fancied rage of his destroyer.” (Shelley 197). Frankenstein’s self-interest outweighs his fear for Clerval’s safety. In hoping to rid himself of his own problems, he disregards the companion to whom he owes his life. Because he is ashamed of his creation, he does not warn Clerval about the monster’s presence and thirst for revenge. Though it is tragic, Clerval’s death is essential to the impact and message of the novel. It secures his role as a foil, showing how two men with near identical upbringings can end up with divergent understandings of right and wrong. At the time, Frankenstein believed he was doing the right thing by trying to deal with the monster by himself. However, after Clerval’s death, it is clear that Frankenstein’s moral compass is skewed by selfishness and shame. Clerval’s death also strengthens Frankenstein’s story to Walton, adding a layer of tragedy that further influences Walton’s decision to return home.
Clerval brings optimism, complexity, and balance to Frankenstein. He is one of the few characters who remains in good health and high spirits while he is alive, offsetting Frankenstein’s constant misery. He has a way of bringing out the best in Frankenstein; their experiences together in nature are some of the only times the reader sees Frankenstein in a good mood. That being said, for the most part, Clerval’s care and thoughtfulness are not matched by Frankenstein, thus illuminating Frankenstein’s egotistical personality.