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Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley when she was only eighteen years old after a nightmare she had.

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Introduction

English Literature: Frankenstein Essay James Hare 10SG 18/11/02 Word Count: 3,293 Introduction Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley when she was only eighteen years old after a nightmare she had. It was first published on 1st January 1818 and was an instant success. Using the style of the 'Gothic Novel', Frankenstein was the first science-fiction book ever written. Almost two centuries later it has become not only a widely read classic, but also one of the most influential novels ever written. Frankenstein is a moral tale that deals with issues and ethics of medical and scientific advancement and how far humans should go in tampering with nature. The story raises questions as to who should have final power over life and human nature, God or humans. Shelley calls her book a 'Modern Prometheus', because there are many similarities in the plots. The Greek God, Prometheus, gave the human race fire, out of pity so they could eat, but also brought them danger, and was punished for it by Zeus. Prometheus was a hero to humans, but Dr. Victor Frankenstein is a villain because he did nothing to contribute to the world; he did everything for himself rather than using his knowledge for the good of others. Shelley does not express her views, but simply tells a story. The story explores the dire consequences of meddling in such serious matters. In a dramatic and shocking way she is more persuasive and challenging to people than if she had directly preached her views. Without directly telling people what they ought to think, she is powerfully able to make people question the morality of their actions in a day of rapid scientific advances. The 'Gothic Novel' was a very popular style of writing in the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century. Shelley used this style because she knew it would appeal to the masses. Its use of horror, violence and the supernatural was exciting, intriguing and macabre. ...read more.

Middle

Ultimately, Frankenstein implies that the being belongs in Hell. From this, the 'Monster' starts to believe he truly is a fiend and actually a 'fallen angel' but refuses to accept that it is his own fault and warns Frankenstein to take responsibility for his actions. One night the creature takes refuge in a small hovel adjacent to a cottage. In the morning, he discovers that he can see into the cottage through a crack in the wall. Observing his neighbours for an extended period of time, the monster notices that they often seem unhappy, though he is unsure why. He eventually realizes, however, that their despair results from their poverty, to which he has been contributing by surreptitiously stealing their food. Torn by his guilty conscience, he stops stealing their food and does what he can to reduce their hardship, gathering wood at night to leave at the door for their use. Vowing to learn their language he acquires a basic knowledge of the language, including the names of the young man and woman, Felix and Agatha. Unobserved and well protected from the elements, he grows increasingly affectionate toward his unwitting hosts. The monster's growing understanding of the social significance of family is connected to his sense of otherness and solitude. The cottagers' devotion to each other underscores Victor's total abandonment of the monster; ironically, observing their kindness actually causes the monster to suffer, as he realizes how truly alone, and how far from being the recipient of such kindness, he is. This lack of interaction with others, in addition to his namelessness, compounds the monster's woeful lack of social identity. Formerly a mysterious, grotesque, completely physical being, the monster gradually becomes a verbal, emotional, sensitive, almost human figure that communicates his past to his creator, Victor Frankenstein in eloquent and moving terms. But, far from seeing the monster's humanity beneath his grotesque appearance Victor just fears him more. ...read more.

Conclusion

In these modern times, we also have a responsibility to care for and sustain the environment, not to abuse the gift of nature. This is in contrast to the deforestation of Amazon Rainforests in Brazil, where millions of trees are cut down every day for the Western world's timber and paper needs. We are even more aware of the damage to our environment now because of the scientific 'progress' we have experienced since Shelley's day. Frankenstein refuses to take moral responsibility for his creation. Today, people emphasis their rights over their responsibilities. Perhaps even more than in Shelley's time, we need to encourage moral responsibility in our individualistic society, where most people seems to be looking out only for themselves. Another final issue raised by the novel is the issue of prejudice. An example of prejudice is anti-Semitism: prejudice towards Jewish people. Anti-Semitism was a tenet of Nazi Germany, and in the Holocaust 1933-45 about 6 million Jews died in concentration camps and in local extermination pogroms, such as the siege of the Warsaw ghetto. In Eastern Europe, as well as in Islamic nations, anti-Semitism still exists and is spread by neo-fascist groups. In spite of the globalisation of our world, through air travel, TV and the Internet, since Shelley's day, we still have many examples of prejudice and discrimination against those of different appearance, colour, race, intelligence, sex, age from ourselves. Throughout the novel, the 'monster' is rejected and exiled because of his appearance, when deep down he was an intelligent, thoughtful and emotional being. No one could see past his horrific appearance to reveal his personality and thoughts. To be a victim of prejudice is demeaning and makes the person feel worthless. Despite this, the Monster fights on, trying to befriend people until he finally gives up and decides that the best thing to do would be to die. This type of attitude and feeling is something that people should not have to deal with in such a multi-cultural world we live in, for we are all human beings. ...read more.

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