Archetypes in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Archetypes in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Virtually all literature contain instinctive trends in the human consciousness to represent certain themes or motifs, these are defined as archetypes. Archetypes can be thought as blueprints or as bundles of psychic energy that influence the manner in which we understand and react to life. There are two different categories of archetypes; the plot archetype and the character archetype. The orphan, martyr, wanderer, warrior, magician, villain, wise child, temptress, rebel, underdog, fool, saint, virgin, wise, old man or woman are all considered to be character archetypes. Call to adventure, isolation, quest and monster that turns against its creator are all considered to be plot archetypes. The novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, contains archetypes.

The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley contains the archetype of ‘great/terrible’ parent. The ‘great/terrible’ parent is a character archetype used in many novels and literatures. The ‘great/terrible’ parent is defined as a parent in the novel with either great or terrible parenting traits. The great parent is a caring, compassionate, loving, nurturing character who can either be a father, mother or creator. The terrible parent is uncompassionate, unaffectionate, uncaring, and a loveless character that can also be a creator, mother, or father. The monster created by Frankenstein is a victim of bad parenting because of the wrongdoing of the protagonist Victor Frankenstein. “I, the miserable and abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (Shelley, 204). Frankenstein is an example of a terrible parent because he creates a creature which he neglects to nurture and take care off. Instead he looks at it in disgust, mistreats it and abandons it as if it were an abortion. Justin the young girl that was adopted into the

Frankenstein household while Victor had been growing up is another casualty of bad parenting, but in this case it was her mother Madame Moritz who is the offender. “She sometimes begged Justine to forgive her unkindness but much often accused her of having caused the deaths of her brother and sister” (Shelly, 51). Madame Moritz is an example of a terrible parent because she disliked and did not care for her daughter Justine. Elizabeth’s Aunt Caroline Beaufort adopted Elizabeth and Justin into the Frankenstein family and is considered to be a great mother. “My aunt conceived a great attachment for her, by which she was induced to give her an education superior to that which she had at first intended” (Shelley, 50). Caroline Beaufort the mother of Frankenstein is an example of a great mother because she adopted, loved, and educated Elizabeth and Justin, and sacrifices herself for her children. The character archetype ‘great/terrible’ parent is used in the novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, by various characters including Victor Frankenstein, Madame Moritz, and Caroline Beaufort.

The book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is comprised with the archetype of the ‘wanderer’. The ‘wanderer’ is another character archetype that is used in many different types of literatures including novels. The ‘wanderer’ can be easily characterized by somebody in the novel or literature that is seeking knowledge. The ‘wanderer’ typically carries traits of ambition, loneliness, and the need to explore the unknown. Victor Frankenstein shows these traits throughout the novel which cause him to forget about family and friends. “I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries” (Shelley, 33). Victor Frankenstein is an example of the ‘wanderer’ because he consistently sought knowledge and had excessive determination in creating a new life form. Robert Walton, the character who starts and finishes the novel with letters, is another person that is considered to be a ‘wanderer’. “What may not be expected in a country of eternal light” (Shelley, 1). Walton is a ‘wanderer’ in...
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