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This essay will provide a critical analysis of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” It will explore themes such as the pursuit of knowledge, the nature of humanity, and the consequences of playing God. The piece will analyze character motivations, narrative structure, and the novel’s enduring impact on literature and culture. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Analysis.
In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, isolation is a motif, or recurring idea with symbolic importance, revealed throughout the story between two characters, Victor Frankenstein, and his scientifically animated monster, the Creature. They both engage in acts and narratives of projecting the consequential dogma of isolation, that inevitably isolation results negatively and perpetuates misanthropy. Victor on one hand is an obsessive personality, lost in his studies he removes himself from very much human contact and engaging society. It results in his change in behavior as his habits adapt his character to begin lose sight of his responsibilities and the consequences of his actions. The Creature, the monster of Victor’s creation, and the outcome of Victor’s personal isolation, projects a secondary point of view to a different type of isolation- involuntary; and turns vengeful not because it’s evil, but because its isolation fills it with overwhelming hate and anger. The monster’s vengeance is to ultimately make Victor as deeply isolated as it. Frankenstein communicates symbolism of the ramifications that isolation from family and society can lead to one of the worst and contagious fates for human longevity, and the cause of hatred, violence, and revenge. This analysis explores the ways Victor and the Creature experience isolation.
The isolation Victor experiences reveals itself in many different ways including his manner, and the way he goes about his education is focused and obsessive, giving himself all the space and time to delve deep into his studies, away from family and friends. He has no one to comfort him, few on his relatable comprehension of intellect, and through physical and emotional isolation leads to the madness of creating the monster as well as the fatal aftermath. Victor states initially in his letters to Elizabeth he feels reluctance to venture out to Ingolstadt by himself when he moves back to work on his sciences, but when he schooling he was more fond of engaging his professors, with no mention of befriending peers. It is obvious that Victor is more comfortable with the people he already knows from childhood; when reflecting on his upbringing, Victor states, “It was my temper to avoid a crowd, and to attach myself fervently to a few. I was indifferent, therefore, to my schoolfellows in general’ but I united myself in the bonds of the closest friendship to one among them.” (Shelley 44). Victor believes he is, ‘totally unfitted for the company of strangers’ (Shelley 51), the seclusion of his own personality and acknowledgement of his habits continues to introduce motif of isolation as well as a foreshadow; it fosters the idea of people close to Victor do not stick around for long. Victor’s isolation is not without his progress of obsessive learning and pursuit of the ultimate, unimaginable goal to brim his ego with pride from the fruits of his labor (and isolation). The theory of the dogmatic control of the isolation throughout the book is portrayed through it’s objective as a double-edged sword; since Victor mentions that his isolation and studies consumed him in unhealthy ways, “I was in reality very ill; and surely nothing but the unbounded and unremitting attentions of my friend could have restored me to life.
How it works
The form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was forever before my eyes, and I raved incessantly concerning him”(Shelley 63). However, the following imperfections as the result of Victor’s efforts of his reanimated being offend his pride too much to bear. Victor has created himself a God-like complex, and it was almost deservingly that his outcome differs from his expectation so greatly, because his lack of social skill gives him an empathetic responsibility for his actions, as well as a disadvantage to adjust his expectation and facilitate a learning moment, to fix and continue to work progressively on the Creature. Instead he abandons it in a moping drama, leaving the creature struck with trauma and rippling isolation. Despite Victor’s upbringing, none of the values of taking responsibility and helping the needy that his parents tried to instill in him took hold. The isolation being portrayed by Victor is now moving from not only psychological but physical as well. Countless hours that Victor has spent creating this monster has caused him to become ill, malnourished, and deprived of sleep. Obsessiveness has driven Victor into this state of mind which then pulls him away from any, and all, outside communication. This trait of Victors adds an imperfection to his character. A flaw in Victor’s character is bringing him to destruction and will eventually create something that he views as a monster.
Later in the novel, when his Creature plots and takes revenge on Victor by being responsible for the murder of Victor’s friend Henry Clerval, brother William and frames the character Justine [inadvertently sending her to an execution], Victor’s bride Elizabeth. Victor reaches his breaking point of conflict and takes off to the mountains. He realizes the Creature’s aptitude for vengeance toward Victor, and so he decides to go into total isolation himself to protect his family; “If for one instant I had thought what might be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have banished myself forever from my native country and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth than have consented to this miserable marriage. But, as if possessed of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real intentions; and when I thought that I had prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim.”(Shelley 151)
The reader can understand from the novel that Victor himself has chosen isolation. No one has forced him to live a life of solitude, he doesn’t confide in others, and ultimately it endangers all of his close relationships.
Now that the novel is being told from the creatures point of view rather than by Victor, a new level of isolation is introduced. Because of the creatures hideous looks and dearth of human knowledge from his negligent creator, he is treated with immediate rejection by anyone who crosses his path. Victor’s creation is innocent when he is born, much like a baby. He needs to experience the world and figure out how to function in it, but is isolated and only has his creator to blame for not teaching him how to function in society. Victor rejects him by fleeing in fear after he has created him, this was first experience of the Creature’s development of severe contempt toward humans, expressing drama and grief of his abandonment of his creator: “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”(Shelley 77), the Creature murders Clerval, runs away where he has his second mistreatment and rejection by a village, and begins to live in the wilderness off the land while hiding out in the shadows watching the Delacey family.
He does not approach the De Lacey, but watches them from afar; it is his first experience with other humans aside from Victor, while observing them he begins to learn about words, communication, music, and the connection of familial and romantic love shared by people, “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers—their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity “(Shelley 132). This is a development in the Creature’s character to give him very sympathetic and relatable qualities; he also longs for companionship, he wants to just fit in, he dreams of revealing himself to the family one day and becoming a part of it; but he finally sees his reflection in the water and understands that he’s different from others, because he is so grotesque. He uses his isolation to educate himself with books and finally finds the courage to meet the family. The son, Felix, hits him with a board, and the Creature flees. The Creature feels so scorned by this betrayal of his endearment placed on the family, his focus and effort given to his sympathetic side also fuels his power of revenge and considerably immoral acts. The idealistic vision of the creature continues to collapse after he is then exposed to a village where he is accused of drowning a young girl, when he was really in the act of trying to save her.
The creature is so curious with the lives that surround him, he wants so badly to approach humans, and to be accepted and loved, but quickly sees that he is unwelcome, and each foundations he is trying to build with human connection cave in on him, slighting him and charging his hatred of people as he is forcibly isolated from rejection; the Creature, a sympathetic character, still wants connection, but has begun to fear that if someone does become aware of him, he is afraid he will get hurt or attacked. This takes away any chance of him forming any real relationship. From my point of view the quote, reflects Shelley’s belief that society has little tolerance for those who don’t fit in. The monster clearly has developed a sense of self and a consciousness, or awareness, about his place in the world.
When the Creature decides to negotiate with Victor to create him a companion, ‘You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede'(Shelley 111), Victor refuses, the creature becomes motivated to isolate his creator by destroying his loved ones so that he’ll also suffer being alone, without love, and without deep and meaningful companionship. The stark difference between Victor’s experience of isolation versus the Creature’s experience of isolation is choice- the Creature experiences involuntary isolation, which jades him and cultivates the misanthropy and vengeance toward people, and the world.
The theme of alienation and isolation are prominent and very important for the novel Frankenstein. Alienation is a strongly shared demeanor for Victor and his Creature, as well as common throughout all characters of the novel. Victor, however, is the only character who has more of a choice in his isolation because of his insatiable drive for knowledge- which consequently becomes his flaw, like a prisoner to his creation. By Shelley giving the Creature a voice, the sympathies of isolation and loneliness can be sympathized by the reader, of the pain and suffering caused by human mistreatment of the “other”. Mary Shelley makes an example of the escalation of how a human being, creatures of socialization and community, come to live alone and be isolated without any sense of human connection; instead, contempt and scorn.
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