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How are the themes of good and evil explored in Chapters 16 and 17 of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'?

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Introduction

How are the themes of good and evil explored in Chapters 16 and 17 of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'? Not only does the idea of 'good vs. evil' have relevance in today's society, but some of the ideas behind the medical advances shown in 'Frankenstein' and the moral issues of creating new life in unnatural ways such as cloning, should we really be making life for scientific advances or should we be leaving to nature? During Chapters 16 and 17, Frankenstein is telling the sailor what the Monster had told him when they met. He recounts the misery the Monster felt after the family he'd been watching for sometime and had begun to love, shunned him when he revealed himself to them, this id the loving side of the Monster coming through. He tells of Frankenstein how he felt when he burned down the family's cottage in his rage; he's evil because he loves too much. He also tells Frankenstein about how he saved a girl from drowning in a river, and how the father of the girl shot him when he saw her in his arms. Lastly in chapter 16 he tells Frankenstein how he killed his younger brother, William, and how he planted the locket on Josephine in the barn, because he knew she would never love him. ...read more.

Middle

The atmosphere is spine chilling, when the Monster describes the arson attack he says that, 'licked it with their forked and destroying tongues.' The Monster sees the flames that are burning down the cottage as forked tongues, which are usually connected with lying. This suggests that he thought that the De Lacey's lived a lie; he believed they were kind and accepting, but faced with the Monster they were no more accepting than all the other people he had encountered. It was this lie that was the will behind the burning down of the cottage. This can be paralleled with the thought that a fire is comforting and warm, whereas in the wrong hands it can wreck and destroy life. The De Lacey's had given him the warmth and comfort he needed but when he wanted more they destroyed him and his soul. Within this dark atmosphere there are some hints of light and goodness, 'Cheered even me by the loveliness of its sunshine', this is just proving that the Monster still has some kindness and emotion and is not completely lost in his own self pity and loneliness to appreciate the beauty that nature creates. I think that the atmosphere and the setting reflect the way either the Monster or Frankenstein are feeling at any given time. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another way she emphasises the conflict of good vs. evil is by using the natural against the unnatural, 'Nature decayed around me, and the sun became heatless; rain and snow poured down around me.' The fact that he sees nature decaying just like he is decayed leads the reader to feel as though he is seeing the qualities in nature that are like him and not the beauty that most people see in nature. Also the natural world is rejecting him because he is the complete opposite to everything in the natural world, he is a fabrication, freak "evil" creature against the natural "good" order of life. I think that Mary Shelley wanted the Monster to be seen in many different ways, for example his evil side that enjoys killing and destroying things, his loving side that is just waiting for somebody to listen to him and learn to love him, his childish side that just craves the love of a father. She makes the reasons for his evilness very clear through these personas. Bitterness and anger towards the world is only natural feel if the world shunned him. So although the monster is 'unnatural' his responses and feeling are those as any 'real' person faced with the conflict he has had to face. His evil side is the result of the creation and therefore Frankenstein's doing. This is why Frankenstein hates him so much; the monster is the embodiment of his guilt. ...read more.

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