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'The novel is a powerful examination of, challenge to, what is good and evil in man and therefore society.'From your understanding of Frankenstein, discuss your response to the above opinions.

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AS Level English Literature Frankenstein Coursework, January 2006, Lyndsay Scott 'Our taste and our judgement alike revolt at this kind of writing...it urges no lesson of conduct, manners or morality.' 'The novel is a powerful examination of, challenge to, what is good and evil in man and therefore society.' From your understanding of Frankenstein, discuss your response to the above opinions. From my understanding of the novel, I can see that Frankenstein is a text which evidently deals with concerns about good and evil in man and society. Therefore my interpretation is that yes, very much so is Frankenstein a text which deals with fundamental moral issues about what is essentially good and evil in man and society. Therefore I feel it is possible to obtain not one but arguably numerous moral lessons from the themes explored in the text. This opinion has been recognised and many are in agreement that Mary Shelley, through Frankenstein does offer and voice a definite sense of morality. However, over the years, the text has been interpreted in a different light, in that Frankenstein does not, in fact offer any sort of lesson of conduct, manners or morality. There is the opinion that Mary Shelley, rather than offering to society a sense of morality, fails to clarify a final meaning behind the text or a definite moral message through her refusal to voice her own opinions and judgement upon the fantastic themes explored. Some argue that there is no definite sense of closure and the reader is left in a state of confusion as to the authors intended message. Throughout this essay, I plan to provide an argument in favour of my own interpretations and opinions upon the text that Frankenstein does in fact offer a lesson of morality to society. In order to provide a successful argument this essay will address and deal firstly with the issues which support the counter argument, the opinion that Frankenstein does not offer a sense of morality to society, which contradicts my own opinion. ...read more.


'He might have spoken, but I did not hear, one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped, and rushed downstairs.' Instead of embracing his new born child, Viktor egotistically becomes concerned for his own safety and abandons it. Readers, here are presented with an obvious sense denial of paternal compassion, reinforced by the seemingly innocent and child like qualities and gestures of the creature. They then go on to witness the miseries and horrors the creature faces and the transformation into a monster from the lack of parental guidance. It may be true that Victor doesn't ever blatantly accept responsibilities for his actions and his treatment of the creature, however I am in fact inclined to say that it is actually, this rejection which makes it all the more obvious to the reader of the strengths of prejudices which exist within society, and therefore the stance Mary Shelley takes with regards to morality. Therefore such events explored would be more likely to have a lasting indentation upon the reader's minds. I am of the opinion that it is through Victors apparent rejection of what is a seemingly obvious moral message, the fact that the novel ends tragically which will make a lasting impression and denote a stronger moral message. While it is true also that the creature rather disappointingly never does succeed in finding that sense of acceptance we are inclined to say he deserves, Shelley's apparent refusal to ensure a happy ending makes the novel all the more realistic. Those who face prejudice in life realistically do not easily gain acceptance, therefore in my opinion, however deserving the monster is of this acceptance, it would be wrong for Shelley to create this scenario in order to conclude events in a more 'acceptable' manner. The fact that the creature represents a victim of social prejudice and the fact that he does not gain acceptance or freedom which in reality it has taken many generations to achieve in the case of the Afro-Americans, makes the need for reform in society all the more realistic and therefore urgent. ...read more.


One interpretation of this dualism is that knowledge is represented by light and ignorance by darkness. Mary Shelley is perhaps, voicing her concerns when humans take their pursuit of the acquisition of knowledge to the extreme. Through this presentation, she is perhaps suggesting that when man pursues knowledge and oversteps the boundaries, this may have unforeseen implications. The imagery is relevant for understanding this concept when we consider the nature of light itself. Pleasantly warm and beneficial at moderate levels, it ignites, and with its dangerous flames, potentially reeking destruction at higher levels. As light is always balanced by fire, the promise of discovery is juxtaposed with the ominous sense of the unpredictable. Mary Shelley's use of the portrayal of the destruction of the oak tree by lightning portrays this conception well, in that light has a dangerous side capable of destruction 'So soon as the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained but a blasted stump.' It is obvious to perceive the 'blasted stump' as a metaphor for Viktor, who has been burned and destroyed by the consequences of acquiring the 'light' of knowledge. In this analysis, it is possible to suggest that Shelley is providing a warning about such scientific advances. Through Viktor's downfall she perhaps is condemning and voicing her own concerns, that these scientists, in trying to better the world, may in fact be unleashing their own irretraceable monsters upon society. She can be seen to be providing a criticism of the potentially negative consequences of the development of science and technology in the 19th Century. The theme of social injustice is undoubtedly explored in the text. Shelley, through events has provided a relevant critique to the corruptness of the justice system, most significantly with the unjust execution of the innocent Justine where she was falsely accused the murder of William. As William metaphorically represents innocence, Justine is representative of the theme of justice and through her execution, Mary Shelley provides us with a definite portrayal of the murder of justice. ...read more.

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