Which Event Best Illustrates the Monster’s Good Side

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During the 18th
and 19th
century, many ideas arose that gave influence to Mary Shelly�s novel
Frankenstein.  The Enlightment philosophy and Romanticism are two important ideas of Shelley�s time that had an influence on the eventual publication of her novel in 1818.  Mary was not only inspired by ideas of her time, but her parents, scientists, and philosophers had an equal impact on her.  The final piece comes through personal life experiences.  Mary Shelly was a self-educated woman who grew up in the thick of poverty.  Her unpleasant childhood comes true to life through her characters.

Personal experiences are one of the most useful tools authors use in writing novels.  Mary Shelley had many life events that contributed to writing
Frankenstein.  One of these events was in regards to self-education.  Mary Shelly lost her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, at a very early age.  Being a woman put her at an immediate disadvantage, but by taking initiative and educating herself, Mary was able to make great strides for her gender.  The revelation of self-education is apparent throughout her novel.

 Chapter 1 is the introduction of Victor�s desire for education and how he will use the power of education.  He tells Elizabeth of some of his discoveries, but her lack of interest �left him no choice but to pursue his studies alone�.  Victor then goes on to say, ��our family was not scientifical, and I had not attended any of the lectures given at the schools of Geneva.  My dreams were therefore undisturbed by reality; and I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher�s stone and the elixir of life� (23).  By not having an educational background, Victor is forced to educate himself if he is to fulfill his dreams.  By saying reality had not disturbed his dreams, he is implying that his own education would better serve his search for the secret to life.  School would not have taught him what he wished to know in order to pursue his dreams, because it was against the church.  Taking manners into his own hands and educating himself was the only way to chase his passion.  By introducing this concept at the beginning of the novel, the importance of self-education in Mary Shelley�s life and its influence on her novel is clearly illustrated.

Not only does Shelley illustrate the influence of her personal life in the introduction to her novel, but the idea of romanticism is demonstrated, too. One of the key notions of the romantic period was the idea of the sublime.  The Romantics believed that the world was unpredictable and full of mystery.  Humans must experience both the beautiful aspects of nature as well as the terrifying facets.  This is known as the sublime.

On page 23, the influence of Romanticism and the sublime on Mary Shelly is displayed.  Victor reflects back on a �violent and terrible thunder-storm� he witnessed at fifteen years of age.  He vividly reminisces the moment; �As I stood at the door, on a sudden I beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak, which stood about twenty yards from our house; and so soon as the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained but a blasted stump.�  Victor goes on to say, �The catastrophe of this tree excited my extreme astonishment; and I eagerly inquired of my father the nature and origin of thunder and lightning� (23).  Such an incident induced feelings in Victor that would later manifest into the creation of the Monster.  Something as beautiful as a tree in nature is suddenly struck by lightning, causing the tree to shatter. This sublime event stays with Victor throughout his life.  He experiences an event that is both beautiful yet terrifying and it hits him on an emotive level, a key component of Romanticism.  From this point on in the novel, the sublime is a reoccurring theme that is influenced by Mary Shelly�s upbringing during Romanticism.

The people in Mary Shelley�s life, both scientists and philosophers of the past, as well as her father William Godwin and husband Percy Shelley had tremendous influences on her novel.
Frankenstein
was written at a time when many ideas about the creation of humans and the elixir of life were spread throughout society.  The use of electricity to create life and its function within the body were also part of Mary�s upbringing.  This idea of electricity is strongly suggested by Sir Humphrey Davy.  He was one of the most influential people during Mary�s life.  Davy was a scientist who she was acquainted to and whose books she read.  One of Sir Humphrey�s concerns was in relationship to how chemical compounds and gases correlated with human diseases.

How does Sir Humphrey Davy influence Mary Shelley�s text in her novel?  One who has read the novel can see evidence of his influence within the creation of the Monster.  The motivations of Davy and Victor were to create something disease free.  A pure entity is another way to look at this.  Through the use of electricity with proper use of the scientific method, Victor believed he could create this �being�.  In following his work, Mary Shelley recognized that Davy advocated the scientific method.

This is apparent through the description of the process Victor goes through in creating his Monster.  On page 30, it is evident that Victor is aware of the fact that nobody else has attempted what he wishes to do when he says, �I was surprised among so many men of genius, who had directed their inquires toward the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.�  Victor goes on later to say, �I prepared myself for a multitude of reverses; my operations might be incessantly baffled; and at last my work be imperfect: yet, when I considered the improvement which every day takes place in science and mechanics, I was encouraged to hope my present attempts would at least lay the foundations of future success� (31).  Mary Shelley knows that Sir Humphrey Davy advocated the scientific method, and in having Victor acknowledge his awareness of this when he says that improvement is made every day in science, Davy�s influence is endorsed.  Victor knows that science experiments normally are not perfect at first, but through trial and error, excessive experiments, and the right tools, almost any experiment can be flawlessly perfected.  In Victor�s case, the implementation of his experiment has a tragic, downward twist.

                                    


Frankenstein Take Home Exam Part I Section B

Mary Shelley�s
Frankenstein
is a novel that brings about many thematic interpretations.  Shelley does an excellent job at demonstrated her ability of composing consistent themes throughout her novel.
The Ambiguous Heritage of
Frankenstein
, an article written by Levine, outlines several interpretations of Shelley�s themes.  The list includes the ideas of birth and creation and the defects of domesticity.  The most appealing of these themes is that of rebellion and moral isolation.   The Monster fits perfectly into this category of thematic ideas in Shelley�s novel. After Victor�s creation, the Monster is set loose into a society in which his acceptance is denied.

The Monster lives deep in the mountains and cold caves with no communication to the outside world.  He lives an isolated life, and any attempt he makes in minimizing his isolation ends in anger; the compilation of these events leads to the Monster�s furious rage in which he sets his eyes on seeking revenge.  To be rebellious is to act back upon, or against, something.  The Monster does precisely that.  Mary Shelley displays an important example of this when the Monster endeavors to speak to the old De Lacy and his family.  De lacy is a blind man, so the Monster feels as though he can confide in him since he can only hear the voice of the monster and not see the gigantic, hideous figure.  The monster waits until the old man is alone, but his plan backfires when Felix, Safie, and Agatha unexpectedly return to the cottage.  Felix violently strikes him with a stick and the Monster darts from the cottage to his �hovel�.

In response to this, the Monster says in rage, �There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness for my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery� (92).  The prior event with De Lacy and his family is the moment in which all hell breaks loose in the Monster�s nimble mind.  It is a breaking point that illustrates Levine�s interpretation of rebellion and moral isolation.  In writing that nobody will pity or assist the Monster, Shelley is endorsing the idea that he is completely separate from the world and the only option left is to rebel.  Not only does he seek revenge on the human population, but more importantly on �him who had formed� him.

This idea of rebellion and isolation is repeated on many occasions throughout the novel, especially after the Monster realizes that he is incapable of making any human being see that he is not evil.  He is not rebelling because he
is
evil; he is revolting because of the evils bestowed upon him.  The rebellion from the humans causes his isolation.  This theme is once again demonstrated shortly after the Monster�s departure to his hovel.  �I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel in a state of utter and stupid despair.
My protectors had departed, and had broken the only link that held me to the world.  For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to controul them; but, allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death� (93).  The unfortunate incident with De Lacy and his family is what the Monster refers to in saying that his protectors had departed.  They were the last chance he had at being accepted in the world, but with the unpleasant incident, the association vanished.  This is when revenge not only sinks into the Monster, but more vividly fills his bosom.   The imagery and detail Mary Shelley endows in this passage in saying that the Monster was �borne away by the stream� and that his mind �bent� is important in stressing the importance of this passage to the overall theme of rebellion and moral isolation.

 


Frankenstein Take Home Exam Part II

At the onset of New Year, we discussed in class what it means to be human.  This was puzzling in that I had never been asked, �What does it mean to be human?�  The class formulated many retorts as to the means in which humans come to understand themselves.  One manner used to analyze the question was to think of how human beings distinguish themselves from animals.  Animals are humanlike in many respects but fail to posses key features that distinguish the human world from the animal kingdom.    Key aspects of the human frame are our feelings, emotions, and our ability to communicate them through the human language.  In Mary Shelley�s gothic masterpiece
Frankenstein, an attempt is made by the author to answer the age-old question of what it means to be human and what the essence of human nature is.  What is central in understanding this question has many aspects, but Mary Shelley focuses a majority of her time stressing the importance of being social and cultural beings.  An inability to communicate our inner inhibitions and socialize takes away from the unique human experience.

            Perhaps a more simple way of looking at this complex question is to take a step back and take a birds eye view on
Frankenstein.  How does Mary Shelley demonstrate what she is saying about humans?  The central conflict of the novel is the creation of the Monster.  In creating the Monster, Victor is God and the Monster is his Adam.  Victor has created a �being� who is set free to experience the real world for the first time.  Victor has the ability to love, live freely in society, and communicate with those around him.  In a complete retrospect, the Monster is incapable of cherishing those qualities that Victor and all other human beings take for granted.  Mary Shelley creates a story in which she uses the Monster that Victor has created to display her core ideas of what is means to be human, or in this case, what makes one inhumane.



    Social means one has the ability to associate with others and to communicate ones feelings and emotions.  Mary Shelley does an extraordinary job at defining the outcome that takes place when one is impaired from doing these human like things.  After the Monster leaves his place of creation, he has nowhere to go but to an area that is isolated from all humankind.  Two years after the creation of the wretch is Victors first encounter with him.  At this point, Victor has just returned home to Geneva due to young William Frankenstein�s death.  Victor �discovered him hanging among the rocks nearly perpendicular ascent of Mont Saleve, a hill that bounds Plainpalais on the south.  He soon reached the summit and disappeared� (48).  The monster resides there, because he is not accepted in society.  He is an ugly wretch in which nobody thinks twice to listen to.



 Later in the novel, the wretch describes the murder to Victor.  This takes place during a time in which he is describing to Victor what he has suffered since his creation and why he had committed so many atrocities.   After the monster fled his long time home in the mountains, which he called is hovel, there is an important event that takes place that demonstrates the severe social and cultural isolation that the Monster is facing, isolation that no �human� would ever face.  He saves the life of a young girl who had fallen into a river. He does this prior to having killed William.  His sorrowful exclamation illustrates what the Monster experienced, �This was the reward of my benevolence!  I had saved a human being from destruction, and, as a recompence, I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound, which shattered the flesh and bone� (95-96).  Any human who had committed such an act would be honored and rewarded for putting their life at stake for the life of another whom they didn�t even know.  An act as brave as saving another life was supposed to bring ecstasy to the wretches life.  In the case of Victor�s creation, instead of some kind of reward, the internalization that no matter what he does humankind will never accept him is all that sinks into his soul.



This event is immediately followed by one of the most crucial incidents that take place in Mary Shelley�s novel.  Not only does it involve the murder of William, but it also sets in motion a domino effect that entails the lives of all those close to Victor.  Two months after the wretch is wounded by his heroics, he has a run-in with a beautiful child, William Frankenstein.  At this moment the wretch says, �Suddenly, as I gazed on him, an idea seized me, that this little creature was unprejudiced, and had lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of deformity.  If therefore, I could seize him, and educate him as my companion and friend, I should not be so desolate in this peopled earth� (96).  The Monster believes that in meeting William he has seized an opportunity to communicate and socialize.  Not only that, but he believes that he can minimize the gap between him and the �peopled world�.  In writing that he was unprejudiced, Mary is emphasizing that at a young age William should have no fear.  All the wretch wishes to do is communicate and express his emotions to this child, a basic need of human beings.  What he learns is that the boy wants to flee and in saying that his father is M. Frankenstein, the monster has no choice but to suffocate William until the his last breath has been exhausted.

This leads to the concept the final section addresses in
Frankenstein.  At the end of Vol. II, the monster expresses his eager wish to have a companion; his Eve.  He vows to leave Victor and the rest of society in exile if Victor is to create another of his kind and fulfill his single wish.  The only way anyone will ever understand and confide in the ugly wretch is if they are just as hideous and gigantic as him.  The Monster expresses his desire to Victor when he sincerely states, �If I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion; the love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes, and I shall become a thing, of whose existence every one will be ignorant� (100).  This short passages goes a long way in allowing Mary Shelley to demonstrate what is means to be human.  The Monster will forever exile if only he were able to experience a human emotion as strong as love.  He says that he will become a �thing� if he has a female to accompany him in exile.  If Victor were to play God once more and create a female companion, the Monster would no longer feel empty.  Love would fill his bosom that was once filled with vengeance and hate.  In the end, Victor denies the Monster the ability to experience life with a key aspect of human nature by his side.

 This unique thing we call love as humans is taken for granted each and every day.  Our ability to clearly communicate how we feel, express our wishes, and, most importantly, being capable of a necessary human need known as love are what make us who we are.  Mary Shelley created a novel that displays the creation of a monster, who struggles to live a life because it has not been endowed the very core aspects of what it means to be human.  Unable to communicate his emotions, the Monster finds himself isolated from the rest of the world seeking nothing more than a female companion.  When it is evident Victor will not grant his wish, revenge and retribution are a means to an end for the poor creature.  Without anyone to love, and more specifically the inability to love, the essence of life is torn out of one�s soul.




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Which Event Best Illustrates the Monster’s Good Side

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