Topics: Tabula rasa, Narrative, Mary Shelley Pages: 3 (908 words) Published: April 16, 2013
Raphael Porras

Tabula Rasa Theory: Frankenstein’s Creature
The nature versus nurture debate has been an ongoing issue in Psychology. It centres on whether a person's behaviour is a product of his or her genes or the person's environment and surroundings. Some well-known thinkers such as Plato and Descartes proposed that certain things are inherited and innate or that they simply occur naturally regardless of human influences. On the other hand, other philosophers such as John Locke believed in what is known as the tabula rasa. It is a theory which suggests the human mind begins as a "white paper void of all characters without any ideas," (Gerrig et al. 51-57). This theory is what Mary Shelley's Frankenstein revolves on as one researcher suggests that this notion of tabula rasa is what Shelley's account of the Creature's development seems to hold (Higgins 61). By considering this concept, where all humans start as a "blank slate," as reflected in the character development of the Creature and narrative style being used in the story, one can see that the person’s environment plays a big role in moulding a person's attitude and behaviour. This is noteworthy because the creature started his life as an innocent and naive person. He only became vicious and malevolent after going through harsh treatments of society.

Although the Creature didn't go through childhood, he began his life like a child. He had no knowledge or idea of how the world works. "I was a poor, helpless, miserable wretch; I knew and could distinguish nothing," he said (Shelley 129). Higgins suggests that it is significant to know that the Creature did not describe any feelings of loneliness in his early stages of life; this only begins when he encounters the De Lacey family (63). Although he had been already treated ill by people prior to meeting them, the creature have not mentioned how he felt, whether he was upset about it or not, after all, he didn’t know how to respond to any kind...

Cited: Gerrig, Richard, et al. Psychology and Life. 2nd ed. Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2012. Print
Higgins, David. Frankenstein: Character Studies. Cornwall: MPG Books Ltd, 2008. Print.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Eds. D. L. Macdonald, and Kathleen Scherf. Buffalo: Broadview P, 1999. Print. 
Veeder, William. Mary Shelley & Frankenstein. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1986. Print.
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