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From Being to a Monster: The Influence of Society in Frankenstein

Info: 1610 words (6 pages) Essay
Published: 3rd Nov 2021 in English Literature

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Despite it's advantages, science is never the holy grail of existence; perfection is nonexistent and there will always be consequences to our actions.​​ Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus ​by Mary Shelley raises important ideals about rejection and loneliness and the effects they can have on individuals. Furthermore, Shelley shows in this novel that what makes an individual feel rejected and lonely are the people around them, in other words, society.

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Similarly, in Frankenstein​​, the society has a strong hold on it's characters; it applies pressure on them and this influences their inner circles and in turn, their behaviours. The most apparent effect of the society can be seen in the monster's narration. One may see him as a gruesome, evil figure throughout the book, a good deal of this due to his appearance and his twisted ways of seeking revenge (he is seemingly perilous to man). Although, what makes him a monster is actually the manhood itself, which stems from the tendency of communities to keep out the outliers. The society excludes and scorns him based on how he looks physically, which makes the creature an other, and by doing this the society creates its own monster- full of revenge and outrage.

Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist, produces a monster with the intention of the betterment for mankind. His mission to create the monster goes back to Victor's childhood, where his passion for science and chemistry started. As he grew up, he became consumed with the idea of creating life out of odds and ends. In the novel, Victor states that "A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me"(n/p). I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption." (Shelley, 32).

Despite this, the appearance of his creature frightens him, and instead of teaching his monster the way of life and what is socially acceptable, he deserts him. Van Den Belt writes, "Victor Frankenstein, ultimately brought disaster upon himself and his loved ones by indulging in the 'unhallowed arts' of 'bestowing animation upon lifeless matter'. When the creation gains consciousness, Victor is terrified by its appearance, for he is "uglier than the typical human" (Van Den Belt, 4). He is so terrified that his plan of "playing God" actually worked, that he isolates himself from everyone, including his creation.

Victor anticipates his monster to function out in the real world without​ being taught what is right vs. what is wrong because he believes that having correct mannerisms comes from intuition. This is not the case, as the creature ends up being evil and murderous. Naturally, it would go without question that Frankenstein's monster should be punished for his actions, because he should have known better, but in reality, society coaxed him to act out.Victor cut off his creature, and other members of their community did the same and also treated him as so; which made the monsters actions take a turn for the worst. The point is Victor played God, causing society to view his creature as an evil being and a liability to their safety, but Frankenstein did not intend to create the monster as dangerous in nature; society nurtured him to act as such.

Throughout the rejection, it is clear by the creature's anger fueled actions that society has a subconscious hold him, and thus and alters his personality into one that becomes increasingly evil. It is actually Victor Frankenstein who first gives an identity to the creation, and his labeling of the creation as an evil thing the night of its creation initiates the process of prejudice that will eventually turn the creation into the monster everyone claims it is.When Victor abandons him, the monster goes out in the world alone and must face the harsh critiques and reactions of the members of society.

Furthermore, wherever he goes, this treatment will remain the same. However, this same rejection fueled his desire for a companion. He demands Victor to produce a female monster for him, and blackmails him by killing those close to Victor (i.e. his little brother, his best friend, his bride on their wedding night), as well as threatening to murder more. The creature recollects this towards the end of the novel and how his wishes drove him to do the worst. ". . . do you think that I was then dead to agony and remorse?--He . . . suffered not more in the consummation of the deed;--oh! Not the ten-thousandth portion of the anguish that was mine during the lingering detail of its execution. A frightful selfishness hurried me on. . . ." (Shelley 153). You can infer that the creature has changed from good in nature to evil. His own cravings are held at a higher standard than the well-being of others and he is willing to kill in order to make sure his needs are met.

As a result of repeatedly feeling alienated and receiving relentlessly awful treatment, the creature loses his hopes to be included in any social connection. Shelley goes on to say: "Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding" (Shelley 229). Ostracism, and as a result of it, bitter loneliness tug him to his own personal hell which is unjustly made by the community. From his creation and so on, he suffers from acute injustice stemmings from his looks which eventually make him disturbed and overflowed with loathing. Therefore, it is the society that creates the "monster" in Frankenstein​ ​; the creature further pushes this argument when he exclaims, "Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded... I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend" (Shelley 96)

Naturally, exclusion and rejection develop into aggression which can cause someone to commit a crime; correlatively, according to Noah Heringman: ". . . rejection . . . increases anxiety, anger, sadness, depression, and jealousy" (Heringman n.p.).

The result of exclusion is clear in the creature's manners; he is the murderer of three innocent ones as a result of his insatiable anger; the actions of the members of society anger him and drags him to incurable sorrow which results in the irresistible feeling of revenge that is the only motivation to live his life; the creature expresses this issue; "My sufferings were augmented . . . by the oppressive sense of the injustice and ingratitude of [the people's] infliction. My daily vows rose for revenge – a deep and deadly revenge, such as would alone compensate for the outrages and anguish I had endured" (Shelley 142).

Furthermore, the process of his transformation into a monster is because of other people. Obviously, the creature is restricted and excluded by the society which restrains him from proving himself; and consequently the society not only rejects him but also barrs him; they damage him and make him extremely low spirited, which causes him to do vicious and brutal deeds.

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Every experience with humanity causes Frankenstein's creation to reflect negatively upon himself. The creature internalizes society's views of himself as an outcast and a monster. The creature is not only hurt because society has labeled him as an outcast, but because he is denied companionship and happiness as well as society represses him, causing him to ruin the lives of those around him.

The transformation was brought about by the judgments and subsequent rejection of society, but stemming mostly from Victor. Similarly, in society today, this theme still plays out as people are constantly rejected due to their appearance, among other things like race or gender identity. When denied acceptance from a group, people desire to seek revenge for the pain they are caused unleashing a monstrosity of their own.

Throughout the novel, the creature commits some of the most heinous, immoral acts possible, and readers would condemn Shelley's monster and those who would commit those actions in a heartbeat,but the authoress transcends this through a philosophical, human understanding of him, evoked through his suffering and exclusion. Without a doubt, the creature is totally pure at the beginning, his only aim being acceptance, but nevertheless, the fear the community has towards abnormality and their desire for protecting their unity evokes severe consequences in the creature's personality.

These rough issues transform him into a monster who is completely isolated, and as a result, full of detestation that drags him to vicious crimes. Therefore, the crucial position of society in Frankenstein​ ​ is undeniable; it is society and its unjust norms that lead the creature, in other words an individual, to his catastrophe.

Works Cited

Heringman, N. (2019). Science and Human Animality in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The​ Wordsworth Circle​, 50​ ​(1), 127–145. doi: 10.1086/702587

Shelley, Mary. "The Modern Prometheus." The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: TheTraditions In English, Third Edition, Volumes 1 and 2​. Eds, Sandra M Gilbert and Susan Gubar, New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company,2007.

Van Den Belt, Henk. "Playing God in Frankenstein's Footsteps: Synthetic Biology and the Meaning of Life." Nanoethics​ ​ vol. 3,3 (2009): 257-268. doi:10.1007/s11569-009-0079-6

 

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