Acceptance vs. Appearance in Frankenstein
The major theme in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is the great emphasis placed on appearance and acceptance in society. In modern society as well as in the society of Frankenstein, people judge one solely on their appearance. Social prejudice is often founded on looks, whether it is the color of one's skin, the clothes that one wears and even the way a person carries himself or herself. People make instant judgments based on these social prejudices. This perception based on appearance determines the behavior towards the person. In Frankenstein, the society of that time is similar to our own today. It is an appearance-based society, and this topic is brought to the limelight by the hideous figure of Victor Frankenstein's monster to a common human being. Every human in society wants to be accepted in an intellectual way, regardless of his or her physical appearance.
Human beings all want to be accepted in society for their intellectual and physical abilities. Granted some humans aren't recognized for their abilities but acceptance is necessary. If a person is not accepted by society, he or she becomes an outcast like the monster in Frankenstein. The monster seeks acceptance immediately upon getting his new life. "Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedroom chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep." This quote stated by Frankenstein portrays that the monster's own creator will not look at him for its appearance is too revolting. Unlike a normal human being, the monster has no family, no acceptance. When the monster views the people in the cottage, it wants to learn the language to be accepted. After it was rejected, the monster demanded the help of Frankenstein to create a female counterpart. Someone that would understand the emotions of being an outcast, it would give the monster someone to be with in this lonely, cruel world. Acceptance is still a constant in today's society. It's a major part of social life, especially during high school and college. It determines one's popularity as well as what friends one has. Humans do activities in numbers, therefore becoming accepted by a group of people. Acceptance as well as striving for fame is always a major aspiration of one's life.
Racism is an obvious similarity between Frankenstein's society to modern-day. These similarities are displayed the moment that the monster is brought into this world. The hideous figure, the disfigured stature of this monster is the first thing noticed by Victor Frankenstein. "His [the creator's] yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles." This reference to the monster's yellow skin depicts the same behavior conducted in modern racism. The color of one's skin does not dictate the intelligence, attitude and behavior of a person. Regardless of the yellow skin of the monster, which would gross and overwhelm most people, there is no need to carry over that emotion to judge the monster's intellectual side. The mind and body are two very different things; human beings need to distinguish that fact. Racism still appears in today's society, it may not be as open like in the 1960's but it's there. There has been near equality in the U.S., giving the same opportunities no matter the race, color or origin. I would refer to the great words of Martin Luther King Jr. "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
One of the greatest similarities between Frankenstein's and modern society is the instant judgment based only on appearance. The creator of the monster, Victor Frankenstein, also passes his view based only on appearance. This hideous creature was thought by many to be an evil, unintelligent being founded upon looks. "I beheld the wretch- the miserable monster whom I created." This quote stated by Frankenstein, commenting on his own creation, believing that this creature was insignificant. Also, the monster's appearance leads many to believe that its behavior is immoral and ruthless. One of the most memorable reactions from the book is the reaction of the old man in the hut. "...perceiving me [the monster] shrieked loudly, and quitting the hut, ran across the fields with a speed of which his debilitated form hardly seemed capable." This judgment was out of fear of his life, almost a reflex to save his life. The monster's frightful appearance created this reaction in many people around him. For example, villagers were throwing rocks and driving the monster away as if it was a worthless piece of society. First impressions are still a great part of society as well as the instant judgment on someone. In modern day, when one is driving down a street and sees an African-American in a fancy car the first thing that jumps into one's head is that he's a drug dealer. It's the common stereotype created by modern-day society. One sees a woman in all designer clothing, with a luxury car; one automatically assumes that she is snotty. Under the exterior appearance and stereotype, there is a human being with ideas and views the same as the common person.
There are considerably similarities between modern society and the society in the book of Frankenstein. Human beings in society still want to be accepted by others and want to acquire a certain level of fame amongst their peers. Also, there is still the presence of racism, prejudice and instant judgments occurring in today's society. The book of Frankenstein has brought attention on these crucial topics and presented in such a way to arise discussion about these flaws in human nature.
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