Review of Mary Shelley’s Book, Frankenstein
The Outcast Traced Throughout Frankenstein
Several archetypes engrained in and throughout the novel Frankenstein add additional underlying meaning to the novel, thus allowing it to be more easily receptable to the reader. One of such is the Outcast, in which a character is ostracized from a group or society due to events imposed upon themselves or by matters out of their control. This archetype is heavily reinforced throughout the duration of the novel and is observable in the lives of Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and Frankenstein’s creature.
Robert Walton is first to epitomize the Outcast when he finds himself alone at sea with no friends or intelligible companions to pass time with on his voyage. Walton, an avid sailor of twenty-eight years seeking wisdom unknown to man, gathered a crew and set his sails towards the North Pole. Quickly realizing that he was without a relatable person with whom to share his time with, he wrote his sister, Margaret Saville, and detailed his battle to satiate his want and need. “But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy… I have no friend” (Shelley 18). This is symbolic of the Outcast archetype as he was surrounded by a group of men, yet was unable to find someone with whom he may communicate with and find happiness in. His intelligence and dialect create a self imposed barrier that prevents him from sharing times with the other men aboard his ship.
Victor Frankenstein also found himself alone while amid a group of people when he excommunicated himself from society to fully engage in his works, and later on, to escape his creation. He first exemplified the Outcast archetype when he removed himself from the norms of life to fully dedicate himself to the creation of thereof. “I was now alone. In the university whither I was going I must form my own friends and be my own protector” (44). Victor, after having left his friends and life behind, completely immersed himself in the creation of a monster which soon led him to further solitude. Victor attempted to flee the grasp of his creation when it was overcome with spite and hatred, and eventually found himself completely isolated from society on a pursuit to restore peace to his life.
Similarly, the creature finds himself secluded from civilization, first while on a search for a companion, and soon after on a quest to take retribution on his creator. The creature’s figure and features are repulsive, thus causing him to be ousted from society- far different from the self imposed exile of Frankenstein and Walton. After realizing that Victor is the cause for his anguish, he set out to get revenge upon his creator. The creature was driven to a state of loneliness and unhappiness imperceptible to human-kind due to his disfigurement, and he found himself devoid of any communication or interaction with another being. He so heavily personified the Outcast archetype, that, “…on the whole Earth there is no comfort which I am capable of receiving” (171). Loneliness induced the creature’s misery, leading him eventually to a state so severe that suicide was the only remedy to his condition.
Frankenstein is heavily driven by the Outcast archetype both due to the additional meaning it brings to the novel and due to the adversity Mary Shelley, the author, was subject to throughout her life. After witnessing the deaths of nearly everyone in her immediate family, it is very likely that Shelley felt like an Outcast in her own world. Ergo, the archetype is prevalent in the lives of nearly every character to varying degrees. Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and Frankenstein’s creature are all subject to insatiable loneliness; ergo, all three perfectly symbolize the Outcast archetype.
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