Themes of Frankenstein

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Themes of Frankenstein

Frequently, literature is intended to convey a significant idea or theme to it's readers regarding events that occur in our everyday existence. Occasionally these ideas appear in the context of straightforward characterization, but in some literatures, such as Marry Shelley's Frankenstein, these themes come to us in the guise of monsters, goliaths, dragons, gods, and myriads of fantasy-like components that express meaning in ways impossible within the boundaries of reality. Frankenstein came about when the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, challenged Mary Godwin, Percy Shelley, and a few others to write a ghost story to entertain them from the horrid weather that engulfed Lord Byron's Swiss villa one night. Mary overheard a conversation between Percy and Byron about galvanism and its use to reanimate human tissue. Later that night she had a half-nightmare/vision of a "pale student of unhallowed arts" inventing a monster with "yellow, watery, but speculative eyes," and wrote the first five lines of Frankenstein the following morning. A tale of a hideous being with a wonderful heart that is rejected by both his creator and society because of the prejudices of people, Frankenstein is truly a melting pot for symbolic ideas and moral themes, dealing with issues such as appearances and reality, forbidden knowledge, alienation, and nature vs. nurture. Though all the messages Frankenstein delivers have profound meaning and deserve to be discussed, the themes of alienation and nature vs. nurture are the prominent messages the book conveys to its readers.

Can society look beyond the appearances of people and only look for the good within them? According to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the answer is no. Victor's curious mentality triggers him to leap across the boundary of "conventional" science and produce a living life form from inanimate resources. However, he overlooks the thought to give this inquiring sensibility toward his creature. When the creature is brought to life Victor is immediately horrified by the result. He finds the creature repulsive, with "yellow skin" stretched tightly over its muscles and arteries, a "horrible grin", and "watery eyes". After working for nearly two years, on what he thought would be a beautiful creation, Victor realizes "the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." Unable to bear the sight of his creature, Victor rushes from the room and collapses, exhausted from the shock. Overwhelmed by the creatures revolting look, Victor is oblivious to the creature's very human qualities and rejects his own conception. Later in the book, the creature finds solitude in the forest while observing the De Lacey family. From this family he learns to speak, discovers the history of the first founders of the ancient republics, and the value of "high thoughts." His heart contains nothing but true love for the De Lacey family and decides to seek the help of the only type of man who has the ability to judge a being by his persona and not his looks: a blind one. The creature explains, "I persuaded myself that when they should become acquainted with my admiration of their virtues they would compassionate me and overlook my personal deformity." So he tells the blind man that he wishes to be accepted by society and seeks true friendship. The elder man embraces him and says, "To be friendless is indeed to be unfortunate; but the hearts of men, when unprejudiced by an obvious self-interest, are full of brotherly love and charity." Ironically, it is the creature himself who is unprejudiced and full of brotherly love. Unfortunately for the creature however, humans are prejudiced, and though the elder man agreed to be "in any way serviceable to a human creature," Felix, the elder man's son entered the cottage and without hesitation came to the conclusion that the creature was a foul demon and proceeded to beat the creature out of the shed. Like Victor,...
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