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Frankenstein - In What ways is Mary Shelley commenting on the human condition and the passage from innocence to experience?

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In What ways is Mary Shelley commenting on the human condition and the passage from innocence to experience? Discuss in relation to the monster and one other character in the novel In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley reflects her views on the faults and weaknesses of human beings and the disasters these imperfections can cause through the personalities and actions of the characters in the novel. The results of the characters personalities and actions show how significant certain undesired traits can be. Through the journeys of the individual characters Mary Shelly shows how we, as human beings, develop in the path from innocence to experience. Surprisingly, the majority of Shelley's obvious criticisms are divulged through the 'hero', Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein is used to fulfil this purpose in a multitude of ways: In her 1823 Introduction, Mary Shelley suggests that Victor's main crime is his presumption in displacing God. The works of Milton could have inspired this; by way of her parents, he would have been a natural choice of inspiration for Shelley. Milton believed that power corrupts human beings and distrusted anyone who could claim power over anyone else. Therefore, Frankenstein does wrong in claiming power over the monster's life by creating him. We see a change in Victor's views on this subject; at the beginning of the novel Frankenstein is fixated with the idea of creating a new being from the remains of dead people and bringing this new being to life by means of electricity. ...read more.


Victor's "workshop of filthy creation" (p55) may have 'womb-like' suggestions. Following this argument, Helen Moers likens the description of the newly created monster to that of a newborn baby in her book 'Female Gothic.' Shelley also uses Frankenstein, and his failure to comply with social expectations in his creation of his creature, to criticise society on many different levels. When Frankenstein gives life to the monster, he is so disgusted with its appearance and its deviation from a normal human being that he rejects and abandons it. This reflects how society shuns anyone or anything that does not conform to their idea of 'normality.' This particular criticism probably sprung from Shelley's up bringing. With two revolutionary parents, Mary Shelley was certainly not born in to a conformist family. A particular example of this is the fact that Mary Shelley's parents were not married. At the time this would have been virtually unheard of in decent families. Mary was possible criticised by her peers as having radical parents, or being bullied because her parents were not 'normal.' She shows her anger at their ignorance by showing Victor be uncaring, and leading the reader to sympathise with the monster rather than his cruel creator. After the conviction of Justine we see a possibility that Victor will admit to being responsible for the death of Justine. ...read more.


This is a common human characteristic; in most cases, even if two people did not get along well in life or had not spoken in years, if one is to die, the other forgets the past and exonerates their dead friend, acquaintance or family member by mourning their loss. They regret things that they may not have said or done, and wish they could turn back time to put things right before the other passed away. It is the monster's sadness at the death of his creator and his regret for the events of the past that finally consume him and tear from him his desire to live. Without these human emotions, the monster may not have destined himself to such a tragic end. It could be argued that Shelley was criticising the power of human emotions and the negative results they can produce. As I mentioned before, Shelley lost many of her children, this must have caused her great depression misery. These may have affected her ability to live her life; thus, she may have been suggesting that if she could have been less humane, her life may not have been as miserable. In conclusion both the monster and Frankenstein show Shelley's feelings towards human behaviour, how we learn from our experiences, and how we deal with things in the future. However, it is arguable whether she is intending to show that knowledge or ignorance is bliss through he contrasting passages of Frankenstein and his creation. Charlie Matthews 12CAS 1 of 4 ...read more.

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