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Frankenstein Analytical Essay

Example of a Literary Analysis essay on Frankenstein about:

frankenstein / mary shelley / responsibility / monster / creature

Essay Topic:

An attempt to identificate the real “monster” of the novel: Viktor Frankenstein or his Creature.

Essay Questions:

Who is the real “monster” of the novel: Viktor Frankenstein or his Creature?

What was the life of the “monster” like?

What prevented Viktor Frankenstein from taking responsibility for his actions?

Thesis Statement:

Victor Frankenstein would have never converted his creature into a monster if he knew how to love and take responsibility for the ones we bring to this world.

 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley essay

 

Introduction: Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a book with a deep message that touches to the very heart. This message implies that the reader will not see the story only from the perspective of the narrator but also reveal numerous hidden opinions and form a personal interpretation of the novel. One of its primary statements is that no one is born a monster and a “monster” is created throughout socialization, and the process of socialization starts from the contact with the “creator”. It is Victor Frankenstein that could not take the responsibility for his creature and was not able to take care of his “child”. Pride and vanity were the qualities that directed Victor Frankenstein to his discovery of life: “...So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein-more, far more, will I achieve: treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation”[p.47]. He could not cope with this discovery and simply ignored it. The tragedy of Victor Frankenstein and the tragedy of his creature is the same – it is the tragedy of loneliness and confronting the world, trying to find a place in it and deserve someone’s love. The creature would have never become a monster if it got the love it strived for. Victor Frankenstein would have never converted his creature into a monster if he knew how to love and take responsibility for the ones we bring to this world.

According to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” the creature becomes a real monster through committing a murder. It becomes a murderer whose main goal is to revenge. The creature avenges for having been abandoned by his creator and left all alone in the hostile world that cannot let him simply exist and have somebody to love. Obviously, the creature did not begin its life as a monster but became one after Victor Frankenstein rejected it and refused to realize that he has to take care of this creature from now and forever and be responsible. The creature was born a defenseless being into the world. It was simply born and tried to see the person who made him come, the one who needed him and loved him. But when it saw the world did not see anybody who at least gave him an arm to stand up. Victor Frankenstein wanted to give life to a creature, but when he managed to do it “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled [his] heart…”[p.57]. He was scared of what he had created and ran away from his creature, leaving it all alone and hurt. Victor Frankenstein made the first step into making the Creature a real monster by running away from it, not even welcoming it into this world. Victor ran away for the Creature was ugly, but the Creature did not have any cruel intentions for being as a newborn it was evil-free. The Creature did not do anything bad. All it did was it came into the world, or it would be more honest to elaborate that it did not come on its own will but was brought to life. He came looking for love and the first thing he met was rejection. How does it feel for any living being to be rejected?

The Creature ran away and tried to turn to other people. It did not want anything bad but simply attention and support. Nevertheless, his appearance made people feel disgust and everybody tried to hurt him. The Creature could not understand why it was treated so cruelly and suffered so much. It was completely isolated and nobody cared for this living being who wanted to be loved so desperately! Such suffering and constant refection turned the Creature into a real monster and the revengeful murderer of little William. The creature was not born a monster but the scorn of men made him one. Everyone he turned to hated him, hated for nothing. And when he turned to Frankenstein begging for a mate he heard the words that killed the last “gains of hope” in the depth of his heart: “…Devil ... do you dare approach me? ... Be gone, vile insect! or rather, stay that I may trample you to dust! ... Abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art! the tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil! you reproach me with your creation; come on then, that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed"[p.68]. The Creature had nobody to live for and it was the point when revenge started being the essence of his life. He did not need people anymore he just became what they always believed him to be – a monster. It is possible neither to say that the Creature was a monster from the very beginning nor accuse the Creature of anything for all it did it appeared into this world. The Creature came with a pure heart and did not meet any love or at least sympathy from people, including his very creator. The Creature was so unhappy and became a “monster” only because everyone treated the Creature as if they were natural monsters that have no feelings at all.

Conclusion: The Creature is not a real monster. It is just a victim. Just like Victor is the victim of the mistakes his parents did, and the Creature is a victim of Victor’s ill perception of reality. It’s like an iceberg – we see only the top, yet the biggest part of it stays under the water. The top is Victor’s creating a monster that killed all his dearly loved people and what we see under the water - is real reason of things: the indifference of people and the nature to judge everything basing on the appearance without even trying to look inside. Nevertheless there is something that can be called a genuine monster without any doubt - it is the scorn and the blindness of people. Blindness to mistakes, to the pain of other people, even to love… What the reader learns from this book is that things are not always the way they appear to be. And what seems terrifying may turn out to be just the pain of someone’s heart, just like the pain of the creature that was thought to be a monster and not being one from the begging became one at the end.

 

Frankenstein began as a short story written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley while she was on summer vacation in Switzerland with her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and with poet Lord Byron and physician-writer John William Polidori. The novel was first published anonymously in 1818 and was then followed by a revised version in 1831, crediting Mary Shelley as the author and including an autobiographical introduction that reflects on her life and on the novel’s authorship.

The novel’s themes center on the social and cultural aspects of society during Shelley’s lifetime, including the movement away from the intellectually confining Enlightenment. The characters in the novel reflect the struggle against societal control. The monster, in particular, is an outcast from society, and the reader is able to empathize with his subsequent rage at being ostracized. Nature and science, opposing forces during this time period, are important themes shaping the novel.

Early nineteenth century society’s views of human standards were associated with the natural sciences. Some literary critics suggest that nature and physiology, specifically anatomy and reproduction, are linked in literature. Irregularities in the human standard were therefore viewed as unacceptable by society, and through an innate reaction, these differences were rejected. Even though Frankenstein’s monster develops language skills, emotion, and consciousness, he appears as a grotesque being and is spurned by society because he does not fit any ideal.

Shelley employs many stylistic techniques in Frankenstein. She uses explorer Robert Walton’s epistolary communication with his sister as part of an outer frame structure that segues into a flashback of Victor Frankenstein’s experiences leading up to and after the creation of the monster. First-person narrative is used in Walton’s voice, while the core chapters offer Victor’s personal narration. In addition, Shelley uses dialogue to provide the thoughts of other characters, such as the monster. Also evident are characteristics of gothic horror, including a foreboding setting, violent and mysterious events, and a decaying society.

Many themes in Frankenstein represent not only the social and political theories of Shelley’s time but also those that followed. For example, Sigmund Freud’s Oedipus complex can be seen in Victor’s attempts to replace his deceased mother by “birthing” a being who represents her. Elaborating on this theory, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan adds a pre-Oedipal stage, in which young children learn language through nonverbal communication. This stage is evident in Victor’s attempt to learn the language of the sciences, and in the creature’s attempt to seek knowledge about society and language. Victor and the creature are “doubles” (or mirrors) of each other because they are both struck with the inability to successfully communicate with society. This theme demonstrates the balance of the conscious and unconscious aspects of human behavior.

Another theme, the search by the novel’s male protagonists for a teacher who will provide them political and social guidance, represents Lockean theory, which claims that education determines a person’s level of value in society. For example, during a conversation with Victor, Walton denounces his lack of formal education, demonstrating his lack of a friend (or formal teacher) to lead him to enlightenment. Additionally, Victor acknowledges his father’s lack of leadership in guiding his interest in the natural sciences.

Prior to the 1970’s, most criticism about Frankenstein focused on Shelley’s life and the story behind the novel’s authorship and creation. As the novel received increased critical attention, evaluations started to focus on its storyline and characters as a reflection of the author. This change in focus was, in part, due to the emergence of feminist theory in the 1970’s and 1980’s, a theory that began to establish the academic value and significance of female writers. Critics have evaluated the work’s lack of dominant female characters, but also have examined its attention to the idea of the Romantic artist.

Frankenstein has been further critiqued through the lens of gender. In the novel, the feminine is not central; rather, the novel features characters who have both masculine and feminine qualities. Furthermore, relationships between women figure in the novel, namely the relationship between Justine and Elizabeth. When Justine faces execution, the two establish a bond that begins during a brief conversation about their shared experiences. Female relationships were tenuous in Shelley’s own life, too, particularly because of the premature death of her mother and her questionable relationship with her half-sister, Jane (later known as Claire), who was rumored to have had a child with Shelley’s husband.

Frankenstein revolutionized the genres of gothic literature, science fiction, and horror stories, and elevated the status of the Romantic artist. Written by Shelley when she was only nineteen years old, the novel offers artistic flare, originality, and a maturity beyond Shelley’s age. In the last decades of the twentieth century, this work reached a new status in critical evaluation. It remains an undisputed fictional masterpiece.