Through Victors narrative in Volume 1, what social comments about parentage and responsibility is Shelley making?

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Through Victor’s narrative in Volume 1, what social comments about parentage and responsibility is Shelly making?

Victor’s narrative within volume one provides indication of the suggestively flawed upbringing by his parents that serves to contribute to his later extreme egotism in his quest to defy nature. Reminiscent of Shelly’s own childhood, Victor creates the monster that he fatally chooses to abandon, seized by the fear of his creation’s ‘abhorrent’ features. Shelly comments Victor’s responsibility as a ‘parent’ to the monster, while also noting the later implications of Victor choosing to ultimately abandon the creature as it returns to haunt him. Victor ultimately bears the brunt of his excessive thirst for knowledge, in which he ultimately usurps the role of women and God in his creation.

Initially the reader is presented with Shelly’s social comments on the two extremes of parenting; unlike her own parents, Frankenstein’s own parents are surprisingly amicable in feeling sympathy for the orphan Elizabeth who they later choose to adopt. Elizabeth is simply presented to Victor by his mother as ‘a pretty present’ for him to keep, and we see the result of this in Victor’s possessive, and possibly obsessive nature:

‘My more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only’.

This notion of Victor’s upbringing is further questioned as Shelly comments that his parents were ‘possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence’. Within Chapter 1 Victor notes that to his parents, he was simply ‘their plaything and their idol, and something better’; he is notably sheltered from trouble, and it is hinted upon that his parents wish for him to remain as an ‘innocent’ child, despite his thirst for knowledge, with one instance when his father remarks that he should ‘not waste (his) time upon this (Cornelius Agrippa); it is sad trash’, yet does not fully explain his own reasoning behind this remark; Victor later regards this as a mistake of ‘destiny’, and seems to indicate that it was the failure of the role of his parents in diverting him from this course. It is evident from his narration that despite his near destruction by the creature he creates, he remains somewhat oblivious to his own mistake in terms of responsibility to the monster, instead choosing to offset some of the guilt to his father.  Victor is described as being ‘bestowed upon’ his parents ‘by Heaven’, and present to be ‘worshipped’ by his parents, which Shelly foreshadows in Victor’s final comments when he notes on his ‘childish seriousness’ of which he responded to Elizabeth, and how she was eventually ‘made to a possession’.  There is a constant dark undertone to the adoption of Elizabeth, as despite the parents’ benevolence in adopting the child they only choose the child that ‘appeared of a different stock’; Victor’s parents single out the beauty within Elizabeth and choose to ignore the other ‘hungry babes’ that were simply ‘dark-eyed, hardly little vagrants’. Elizabeth is thus presented as almost angelic in nature, with her ‘being heaven-sent’. Elizabeth serves as an expression of romanticism within writing, where she is referred to as being part of the ‘sublime’, beauty which is reflected upon in her own visions and nature. From this we can see Shelly’s social comments on mistakes of parenthood, as the two extremes of parental roles are unfolded; Shelly was abandoned and isolated for most of her childhood, while Victor’s own overprotective upbringing contributes to his egotism and belief that he is bound to succeed, an ultimate failure of parental responsibility. Despite the large contrast between Shelly’s own upbringing and the idyllic nature of Victor’s, both are revealed to be inadequate in terms of responsible parentage and there is a clear sense of what appears to be almost suffocating love from his parents towards him.

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Victor remains constantly oblivious to the nature of parental responsibility upon the creation of his monster; Shelly comments on how Victor had, similarly to his mother Caroline, simply ‘selected his features as beautiful’, yet only becomes horrified as the monster awakes and ‘the dull yellow eye of the creature [opening]’ finally leads to the realisation of his mistake in creating the creature. At this moment, Victor’s choice to abandon the creature simply due to the fact that ‘the beauty of the dream’ had simply ‘vanished’ upon his success, and he chooses to ‘rush out of the room’ with ‘breathless ...

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