The Theme Of Ethics: “Frankenstein” By Mary Shelley
There are many themes that stand out in the book Frankenstein. I will focus on the theme of ethics. In my opinion, this is the biggest theme in the story because it is mostly about the ethical questions that Victor goes through and the decisions he should make throughout the story.
First off, Victor Frankenstein did not cross a moral line when he reanimated the creature. He crossed the line when he abandoned the creature he reanimated throwing him headfirst into a cruel society. He did not understand people and they did not understand him. He ventured further across the line when he allowed Justine to be hung for a crime in which he knew she was innocent. Frankenstein acted immorally once again when he broke his word with the creature and aborted its female counterpart. His immorality did not start with creating the creature in the first place it started when he repeatedly wronged the monster and society as a whole with his actions.
The science behind reanimating a creature had the potential to greatly benefit society, however, the opportunity to move science forward was ruined when Frankenstein neglected to nurture his creation. He allowed it to turn into his tormentor and become a menace to not only Frankenstein himself but for society as a whole. after the creature started to observe and care for the cottagers he began to take actions to help them. “This trait of kindness moved me sensibly. I had been accustomed, during the night, to steal a part of their store for my own consumption, but when I found out that in doing this I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots.” (Shelley 68) This quote shows that the creature was capable of affection. He only soured on society when he was shunned by the cottagers, which led him to seek revenge on his creator. But even when he was perhaps at his worst e.g., killing William, his instincts were not inherently bad. “As I gazed on him, an idea seized me that this little creature was unprejudiced…If, therefore, I could seize him and educate him as my companion and friend, I should not be so desolate in this peopled earth.”(Shelley 90) The creature’s only motivation in seizing William was to gain companionship. If Frankenstein were there to help the creature transition into society, the production of a vengeance-driven killer could have been avoided; the creature had the potential to be a positive contribution to society.
Even after making the mistake of abandoning his creation, Frankenstein had a multitude of missed opportunities to make up for his previous missteps. Instead, he decided to sulk in his own despair for months until he finally gathered the courage to return home where he heard the news of his younger brother’s death. He immediately knew the true culprit of this crime: his creature.
However, upon finding out that his childhood friend, Justine, had been blamed for the murder, Frankenstein refused to tell the courts about the true culprit. Frankenstein didn’t think anyone would believe him. Even if Frankenstein was right, it was still his moral obligation to do everything he could to save his childhood friend Justine. Even after allowing Justine to be hanged Frankenstein had another chance to right his wrongs that he blew, yet again. When the creature confronts Frankenstein and begs him to produce a female companion Frankenstein agreed to as long as they leave society together, however, Frankenstein goes back on his word and aborts the female counterpart. This leads to the creature fully succumbing to vengeance and killing the two people who matter most to Frankenstein: his best friend Henry Clerval and his fiance, Elizabeth. Frankenstein’s ethical reasoning for aborting the female creature was that he could potentially be unleashing an even bigger menace on society than he already had by making the first creature. However, this reasoning is wrong because If Frankenstein had kept his promise, not only would his friends have lived, but the creature would have taken his companion to an uninhabited area to live out the rest of their days peacefully.
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