, Research Paper
Mary Shelley s Frankenstein develops the theme of alienation and isolation and its consequent increase of hostility through various characters throughout the novel. The theme may have originated from various elements, including Mary Shelley s father, William Godwin, who felt that the isolated individual would become vicious. This idea was shared by Shelley and manifested in the characters, Victor Frankenstein and his monster (What is, 7). These creatures were not born hostile, however, driven to their hostile actions to force the acknowledgement of their existence (Thematic Analysis, 1).
There were various elements that attributed to the creation of the theme in Shelley s Frankenstein. Throughout the story, Shelley emphasizes the Faust legend that one must conquer the unknown at the cost of one s humanity. This legend was used in the society of English Romantic Poets, who believed that with alienation and solitude they could produce their greatest poetry (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 188). This is conveyed in Frankenstein with his self-imposed secret experiment and isolation, which produces his obsessive drive to devise the creature. (Literary Sources, 4). This isolation only leads to desperation (Frankenstein by Mary, 188). John Milton s ideas in Paradise Lost are also conveyed in the theme of Shelley s Frankenstein. In the book, Frankenstein refers to the monster in terms used in this novel; the fiend, the demon, the devil, and adversary. Both master and creature are torn by their internal conflicts from misapplied knowledge and their sense of isolation (Literary Sources, 5). The final thematic element is her life experiences. Through her father s belief that isolation would make an individual vicious, her own idea for the theme of Frankenstein arose. Shelley, however, added to her father s proposition that the viciousness is a product of parental neglect (What is, 2).
Frankenstein is primarily an exploration of the development of the evil in Frankenstein s monster as a consequence of his rejection by society. Victor Frankenstein was an experimenter who attempted to play the role of God. In doing so he creates and brings to life a monster from bits and pieces of human corpses. Frankenstein realizes what he did and is horrified by it, so he deserts the monster (Thematic Analysis, 2). The monster is forced to attempt to interact with society; but greatly handicapped, he has no ability to communicate and is ignorant of his own hideousness (Lewis, 23). Society rejects the monster both out of fear and cruelty, which forces the monster into hiding. The monster learns to speak on his own, after imitating a family, which lived in the proximity of his hideout (Thematic Analysis, 2). After harsh rejection by society even after he can communicate, the monster becomes wise and realizes his only opportunity at acceptance is to have another creature like himself created. For this, he turns to his own creator, Frankenstein. However, Frankenstein still upset at himself for creating the monster, refuses even to listen to him. This rejection causes anger in the monster and he resorts to murder as a way to force Frankenstein to acknowledge his existence and meet his demands (Literary Sources, 6). Like Frankenstein s monster, constant rejection breeds not compassion and understanding, but anger and hatred (Thematic Analysis, 1). Frankenstein s rejection of the monster is obvious. Throughout the novel, Frankenstein wished that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed (Literary Sources, 4). Frankenstein still refuses to offer his help, so the monster resorts to evil actions of even more blackmail and murder (Thematic Analysis, 2). Had Frankenstein taken the time to communicate and care for his creation, with all knowledge that he processes of the responsibility of a good parent, the creation would have never loved ones (Frankenstein Comments, 2). Mary Shelley shows how a creature commences innocent, but rejection drives it into evil, when its only recourse is to commit murder and extortion (Lewis, 24). The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even the enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone is spoken by the monster in Frankenstein and shows the monsters isolation and the influence of Milton s Paradise Lost (Literary Sources, 5).
Victor Frankenstein also suffers from isolation and alienation. One of Frankenstein s major causes of his isolation is his inability to accept his own mistakes, his flawed creation, which forces him to flee out of fear for his life (Frankenstein, 2). Frankenstein to whom life and death appeared ideal bounds to be broken through, succeeds in his intellectual pursuit but at great cost. Through the intellectual pursuit, he loses all contact with the human community. Another factor that causes Frankenstein to lose contact with society is his ambition to conquer the unknown, which moves him closer to feelings of isolation and depression. Throughout the novel, Frankenstein becomes increasingly like his creation. Both of them live in relative isolation from society, both hate their own lives, and both know suffering. Shelley, through this theme, paints a very bleak portrait of man and his relationship with outsiders, as well as the cruel vengeance of society (Frankenstein by Mary, 195). The influence of Faust can also be seen in the novel Frankenstein. While voluntarily excommunicating themselves from society, Faust and Frankenstein accomplish a portion of their goal, yet remain unhappy because they never control the “perfect” life they have built for themselves. Frankenstein becomes so wrapped up in his curiosity of creation, that he utterly ignores the outside world. Frankenstein, desires to create life and become a motherly figure which supersedes any other emotion or need. Even after successfully creating his creature, he is still unhappy and now further alienated from the world. This alienation causes Frankenstein to commit acts far more evil than before (Faust and Frankenstein, 1).
Throughout Frankenstein, the theme of alienation and loneliness develops in the monster and Frankenstein. Through this alienation, the characters increased their viciousness. This theme was influenced by the Faust legend, Milton s Paradise Lost, and the life experiences of Shelley. These life experiences were based on her father s beliefs, however, she added that viciousness was a product of parental neglect. An unloved Creation is driven to wreck revenge on an indifferent Creator. Herein is the warning: love what you create or be utterly destroyed by it (Literary Sources, 7).
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