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The Power Of Mind Versus The Power Of Appearance In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Introduction

The Power Of Mind Versus The Power Of Appearance In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein By Aaron Willis The so-called monster in Frankenstein demonstrates, through his problems with understanding and being understood by the world, the importance and power of language on the one hand and of outward appearance on the other. As this essay will show, the novel shows these two factors to have very different functions indeed. First, let us look at the function of appearance as the monster perceives it. From the first time he views himself in a pool of water, he knows that he has the features which make up a monster. Then he states: "Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity" (p. 109). After this he experiences time and again how people, including the one who created him, flee in terror from his deformed shape, and finally, when all hope of a reversal of that situation has disappeared, he starts to use this deliberately for purposes of revenge. ...read more.

Middle

He learns French through a series of lessons meant for someone else; he has to rely on laboratory notes to understand what he is and where he comes from; he needs the books to learn what life is, and yet, what he gets is still nothing but translations of someone else's observations. In the beginning of his existence, the monster notices the ractions he elicits from others, and by that he deems himself unfit for social interaction and goes into hiding in a hovel. He nurtures a liking of the De Lacey family based on their looks; they seem benevolent and they are beautiful, especially Agatha. This is evidence that he too can be prejudiced, for how could he know that they are good people while understanding neither their language nor their social patter? Surely there is no way of knowing but judging by appearances only. After a while however, he really knows that this family actually is a virtuous one, one worth making the acquaintance of, because he observes their daily life and their actions during an extended period of time, rather than just their outward good looks. ...read more.

Conclusion

When one element is missing, the other can serve in its place (as seen early in the monster's life and then in the scene with the blind man), but sooner or later you have to reveal your true shape to people you want respect from, and then a malformed outer shell will drive away the impressions left on them by your mind, however worthy and elevated that mind is. In the end, the only one who cares about who you really are is yourself, and everyone else sees just your surface. The exception from this is love, because love is the ability to see through the masks and understand who is behind them. The monster, understanding this, entreats his creator to give him an equal to love and be loved by, but his pleas are denied. He then sets out to destroy his creator and then himself, preferring death to a meaningless existence. In short: in order to stay sane and loved, nurture your mind, but in order to stay socially accepted and popular, nurture your body. ...read more.

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