The Argument of Learned Traits in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, an important aspect of nurture is investigated through both Frankenstein and his creation. The creatures interaction with the cottagers, as well as his interaction with Frankenstein, showcase Mary Shelley’s personal views on the topic. Specific contrasting vocabulary and recurring themes as Frankenstein is watching the cottagers help Shelley to highlight the creature’s influences as he’s discovering the world, and how that relates to a major theme of the story. The creature was born and let loose into the world without any guidance, without any idea of what is socially right and wrong. At first he simply focused on surviving and finding knowledge of the world and all his new-found senses. Later, he came upon the cottagers. From them, he learned about normal human behaviors, and he learned of right and wrong. The creature talked about how “Such was the history of my beloved cottagers. It impressed me deeply. I learned from the views of social life which it developed, to admire their virtues, and to deprecate the vices of mankind” (Frankenstein, 88). Here, the creature referred to the cottagers as “beloved,” he “learned” from them, and “admired” them. This word choice shows how the creature sees the cottagers as a child would see their beloved parents, learn from them, and
admire them. Even though the cottagers did not know of the creature, by observation the creature saw them as the parental figures he lacked. The word “impress” can also be taken to mean that the cottagers left their mark upon the creature, showing that the creature learned from observations of them. Similarly to how a child emulates their protector, the creature was beset with “a desire to become an actor in the busy scene where so many admirable qualities were called forth and displayed” (88). The use of the words “actor” and “scene” suggest that the creature does not feel as if he can be entirely...
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