Frankenstein

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Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein seems to be an exact representation of the ideas of the 17th century philosopher John Locke. In Locke’s “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” he talks about the idea that we as humans are all born with a ‘blank slate’ that contains no knowledge whatsoever and that we can only know that things exist if we first experience them through sensation and reflection. In Frankenstein, the monster portrays Locke’s ideas of gaining knowledge perfectly through worldly experience of learning his surroundings. Locke states “…from experience; in that all our knowledge is founded and from that it ultimately derives itself” (Locke 186). He is saying that the only way the human mind can learn and gain knowledge is if it is self-experienced first. This is represented perfectly through Victor Frankenstein’s monster. When the monster is first ‘born’, he knows nothing of how his body works, it’s capabilities, or his surroundings; he is seen as the equivalent of a new-born child. The monster begins his story by explaining his first experience with his senses, “A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses” (Shelley 128). Furthering the resemblance of a new-born child, the monster states, “Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander at my liberty, with no obstacles I could either surmount or avoid” (Shelley 129). This expands on the monster using experience to gain the knowledge that he can now walk on his own feet. He has also learned more than he recognizes. He has freewill and is able to go where he wants and do as he pleases. Locke says that we learn about our senses and get our ideas through experience. He says: First, our senses, conversant about particular sensible objects, do convey into the mind several...
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