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Frankenstein: An Analysis on the Theory of Nature Versus Nurture

Info: 1772 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 27th Oct 2021 in Psychology

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Are one's surroundings determined who they become later on in life? Does Nurture form one's characteristics that will determine who someone is later on in life? These questions are the approach that Mary Shelly attempted to develop throughout her book, and that the monster is intelligent, but dangerous. However, its guilt due to its environment and isolation from society made it dangerous to being with.

Throughout my paper it will discuss from each source the argument of Nature vs. Nurture and how they are all connected. First it will discuss Nature on the different influences that contribute to affecting someone's life. Then Nurture which explains how emotional interaction and isolation affect someone.

It can be argued that the monster's isolation from society expresses how it was affected by nurture rather than nature.

Firstly, in Frankenstein and the State of Nature, the author claims that Frankenstein is enlightened to create a monster, his creation is the destruction of the feminine principle of nature, but the monster wants to be one with nature. The monster wants to find community and even promises to be vegetarian in order to be one with nature, but Frankenstein decides it could be worse so he changes his mind about creating the monster a mate.

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Throughout this source the author wishes to explain the reasons that Frankenstein's creation goes against Nature. For instance, Frankenstein believes he sees a wondrous light which encourages him to discover creation and mortality. On his attempt to find nature's secrets Frankenstein studies and analyzes different sciences that could help him in this process. According to Frankenstein and the State of Nature, "Frankenstein offers an image of nature's continuing power to resist the human quest for mastery," (480).

In this quote Frankenstein attempts to master nature and obtain enlightenment which confirms that nature is the true problem to this madness, because if Frankenstein wouldn't have went against nature to create a monster this problem would have never occurred. Also, this source also mentions Frankenstein's 'Enlightenment' which leads to the destruction of the feminine principle of nature, because the author believes since Frankenstein created the monster and it wasn't given birth to; therefore, the monster is figuratively is killing nature.

For instance, "by going against the natural process of generation, by making a child of his own without submission to the fecundity of a woman's womb, he symbolically kills mother nature," (478). To even prove my point even further it has been proved that because Nature always takes the unnatural and Frankenstein creation was unnatural which is why the monster returned to nature, "He is swallowed up among the ice-floes of the North," (480).

This is a perfect example of the monster returning back to nature and even at the end of the book the monster was literally begging to be put out of its misery which can be used as an example of how Nature was what made it be good, seeing how he was created as such, but the lack of nurture and acceptance is what changed it to be an actual monster.

Next, in The Quarterly Review (January 1818), the author claims that Frankenstein had seen a light which started this madness like mentioned above, and the monster had nurtured itself, and the monster had a conscience. Frankenstein studied death and life in order to figure out how to create one. He had seen a light that encouraged him to put his thoughts into action. According to The Quarterly Review (January 1818), "having made this wonderful discovery, he hastened to put it in practice; by plundering graves and stealing, not bodies, but parts of bodies," (215).

This is an example of going against nature to create a new species. Once Frankenstein seen his new creation in terror he fled and didn't help his new monster understand how to live or what kind of mentality to have. This is an example of Nurture because instead of looking at the inside personality of the monster and teaching him how to be, he instead left his creation to fend for himself, "here the monster, by the easy process of listening at the window of a cottage, acquires a complete education," (216).

Once the monster learned how to think for itself and communicate the monster began to feel confused of why its creator had abandoned it. This angered the monster because he had no sense of home or protection. As a child we learn how to behave from our parents and act, but if there is no nurture who is to say a child wouldn't grow up to be a mass killer, "is surprised that gentlemen pronouncing a funeral oration over the departed Frankenstein; after which, declaring that he will go back to the Pole, and there burn himself on a funeral pyre of his own collecting," (217-218). Therefore, at the end of the book the monster is ashamed of killing all of those people, and is devastated over the loss of its creator. Instead of always looking at the outside, looking at the inside of a person truly shows someone their soul, and if Frankenstein would have understood that he could have nurtured Frankenstein then unnecessary deaths wouldn't have occurred.

Next, in Mary Shelly and the Power of Contemporary Science, the author explains Mary Shelly's creation of Frankenstein, what the main characters represent, and her thoughts on the monster's soul and creation. Mary Shelly studied science, mostly Chemistry, before she started writing Frankenstein. It wasn't until she had a competition with her husband, Percy about writing the best scientific and gothic piece, "they then, famously, set themselves a ghost-story-writing competition," (185).

When I read this section I noticed Percy was writing atheist poetry which sparks my curiosity to the fact, was Shelly atheist as well? If so this explains Shelly's ideas towards the creation of the monster, and the lack of information of what creates a soul. The monster and Frankenstein's characters represent Mary in the book. For instance, "one is tempted to say that the creature-who is paradoxically the most articulate person in the whole novel-was a pure invention of Mary's genius," (185).

Perhaps the monster is a representation of her because like the monster she was judged and was outcast in society when it came to intelligence. Frankenstein represented the people who sent her to be outcastes away from everyone else. This is a perfect example of how nurture changed her and inspired her to tell her feelings and story through Frankenstein.

Also, Mary had a difficult time determining how the soul would be created; it's understandable that she wouldn't due to the fact that God is the only one who can provide a soul, "would it have language, would it have moral conscience, would it have human feelings and sympathies, would it have a soul?" (188). If one looks at the creation of one's soul to the growth of a soul it is easily seen that Nurture changes a person, not the environment because your environment is who one was born as, not who one becomes.

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Next, according to Frankenstein and the Tradition of Realism, the author explains Frankenstein as a father figure, consequences of Natural Egoism, and the Monster having emotion. As Frankenstein creates the monster and then through the process of Frankenstein's authority towards the monster which supports that Frankenstein is the monster's father for he is the creator, "Frankenstein is in a way the indirect father of lesser, more humanly recognizable figures," (311).

The consequences of Natural Egoism which suggests the reason why the monster feels the need to help, but has no real morals to its thoughts. For instance, "wickedness is merely a gradual sliding into the consequences of a natural egoism," (311). Also, the monster's emotion during the death of Frankenstein and the guilt towards all of the murders he had committed proves that his environment affected him not the lack of nurture which he received, "implies a clarity and firmness of moral ordering," (316). However, I disagree with this quote, because it was the lack of Nurture that affected it; the monster was an intelligent and kind spirit until Frankenstein abandons it, and the monster had remorse for everything it had done.

Lastly, in My Hideous Progeny: The Lady and The Monster, the author discusses Mary Shelly's life, the creation of Frankenstein, and the inspiration behind it. As discussed above the characters represent parts of Mary's life and how she felt. In Frankenstein the monster's environment changes him from being a peaceful and intellectual creature to a murderous monster. Furthermore, "The monster carries with it the guilt and alienation that attend Frankenstein's self-assertion," (352).

This is an example of how isolation and nurture are more threatening than nature. If Frankenstein would have given him a mate and at least a place to go the monster would have been fine and went on with its life without the nurture of a father/creator and would have been one with nature once again. The inspiration of Frankenstein was not only due to friendly competition, but it reflects Shelly's life of being in isolation herself due to her marriage to Percy. The creature is her and she is the creature, "the narrative strategy of Frankenstein, like the symbolic presentation of the monster, enables Shelly to express and efface herself at the same time and thus, at least partially, to satisfy her conflicting desires for self-assertion, and social acceptance," (355).

Works Cited

Bate, Johnathan. "Frankenstein and the State of Nature." Frankenstein. 2nd ed. Ed. J. Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 2012. Pages 478, 480. Print.

Croker, John. "Quarterly Review (January 1818)" Frankenstein. 2nd ed. Ed. J. Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 2012. Pages 215-218. Print.

Holmes, Richard. "Mary Shelley and the Power of Contemporary Science." Frankenstein. 2nd ed.

Ed. J. Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 2012. Pages 185, 188. Print.

Levine, George. "Frankenstein and the Tradition of Realism." Frankenstein. 2nd ed. Ed. J. Paul \ Hunter. New York: Norton, 2012. Pages 311, 316. Print.

Poovey, Mary. "My Hideous Progeny: The Lady and the Monster." Frankenstein. 2nd ed. Ed. J. Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 2012. Pages 352, 355. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. Planetebook.com. www.planetebook.com/ebooks/Frankenstein.pdf

 

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