• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the sources of discontentment and/or despair in 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley

Extracts from this document...


'Then the discontented wanderer is thrown back on himself - if his life is to become bearable, only he can make it so. And, on that spring evening, walking up the long, dark, murmuring street toward the boulevard, Eric was in despair. He knew that he had to make a life, but he did not seem to have the tools' (Another Country, pp.213/4). Discuss the sources of discontentment AND/OR despair in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' The depiction of despair, in varying forms, is perhaps predominantly engendered in its purest form within the individual character's guilt as a fundamental essence of their characterisation. In relation to Frankenstein, this inclination is explicit in Victor's tormenting guilt surrounding the murder of William, Justine and Clerval: 'But I, the true murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my bosom, which allowed no hope or consolation...Anguish and despair had penetrated into the core of my heart' (Shelley, p. 68). This 'never-dying worm' takes on symbolic significance in the creature, who acts as a physical representation of Victor's guilt synonymous with these murders, and is therefore a constant reminder of remorse, instigating the escalation of his profound despair. ...read more.


Social isolation as a major contributor to the despair inherent in the central characters is presented in Frankenstein through the confinement synonymous with social isolation. Victor Frankenstein self-imposes his detachment from society, as a result of his parochial quest for knowledge: 'I, who had ever been surrounded by amiable companions...I was now alone...I ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge' (Shelley, p. 28). Essentially, it is this obsession in which the creature is derived from, and Victor later addresses this as the initial cause of his despair: 'how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow' (Shelley, p. 35). In his creation, Victor has usurped the omnipotent position of God in order to transcend the barriers of nature, excluding himself literally from society, and metaphorically from humanity. Similarly, the creature's desire to be educated contributes to his sense of social isolation, and by implication existential isolation, which contributes to his melancholy: 'although I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought not to make the ...read more.


111). The accumulation of these moral and social injustices essentially leads to the creature's 'only link that held [him] to the world' being 'broken' (Shelley, p. 113); he is completely isolated from any sense of community, from humanity, from his creator and from his own self-identity and has therefore relinquished all hope of social assimilation: 'am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces...tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?' (Shelley, p. 119). The creature has no moral stability or a sense of collective identity; he has no defined purpose in life and is completely alienated from all forms of community. In conclusion, through the characterisation of Victor and his monster in Frankenstein, Shelley explores the detrimental effects that social isolation, both self-imposed and socially imposed, together with self-denial and ambiguous or undefined self-identity has on individual expression, self-worth and ultimately the fate of the character. The despair that results from the guilt and isolation presented in conjunction with the central characters is essential to the reader's understanding of the characterisation employed by Shelley, and provides the central platform in which the demise of the characters is explored and understood. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Mary Shelly section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Mary Shelly essays

  1. Who is the real monster in Mary Shelleys Frankenstein

    It understands that 'prejudice clouds the eyes' of mankind, 'and where they ought to see a feeling and a kind friend, they see only a detestable monster'. The old man De Lacey himself reinforces this point by saying that the creature seemed to be a 'noble and virtuous being'.

  2. [The] juxtaposition of the ghastly and the everyday suggests one of the defining characteristics ...

    The entire genre of gothic fiction is based on the contrast and therefore the contrasting characters that arise. Those that bode well from the booming society are often times the heroes of the story, many critics would argue that they are heroes because they have the wealth to be heroes and can therefore afford to take extravagant adventures.

  1. Consider the roles and the importance of Safie in the novel - 'Frankenstein', Mary ...

    This may have been picked up on by the creature and mimicked in later times in the novel when he pursues Frankenstein to extract his justice, following him over tortuous terrain but remaining true to his campaign. The fight against political convention in the east also echoes the idea the

  2. To what extent do you agree with the view that, in Frankenstein, Mary Shelley ...

    This element in the novel is Shelley exploring the dark side of the human psyche as it shows that Victor's way of thinking is very emotional, he is ruled completely by emotions, which is why he is very dramatic. Shelley does this with Victor so that the audience understand the

  1. In Frankenstein(TM) it is generally accepted that the female characters and their values are ...

    Some critics may argue that she appears to be sat at home waiting for his correspondence or promise to come home before she can do anything. This appears to suggest that women are helpless without men and feel anxious and vulnerable at home and therefore plead for the return for a dominant male.

  2. Feminist critic Anne K. Mellor argues that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is an attack on ...

    have ambitions of going against nature because nature will strike down on him. Also, the frequent use of the word "penetrate" shows how Frankenstein intends to rape nature (already established as female) and by him giving "birth" to the monster he usurps the role of women.

  1. Human curiosity in "Frankenstein"

    Moreover, after tasting burnt meat people learned how to use fire for cooking. Because of curiosity men went away from their homes and discovered new lands. It led to discovering new resources; people discovered new lands with better conditions for existence.

  2. How does Shelley convey the concept of monstrosity?

    Frankenstein is emphasizing on the idea that he has created a catastrophe. Victor?s initial expectation was to create a normal being that blended into society, but instead he created the opposite. This is comparable with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as Enfield is asked to describe Hyde?s appearance to Utterson.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work