Nurture vs. Nature in the Novel "Frankenstein"


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In Frankenstein, various themes are introduced. There are dangerous knowledge, sublime nature, nature versus nurture, monstrosity, and secrecy and guilt. I chose a main theme as nature versus nurture. Nature is some traits that a person is born with, and nurture is an environment that surrounds a person. The novel indirectly debates whether the development of individual is affected more by nature or by nurture through Victor and the Monster.
In the novel, Victor is raised up by two happy parents in caring and indulgence. He receives a sister, an education, affection, and a wife from his family. However, unlike Victor, the Monster does not have any maternal or paternal figure to care and teach him values. When the Monster first escapes from Victor’s apartment and enters into the forest, he lives like an animal. He eats berries, drinks water from the streams when he gets thirsty, and sleeps in anywhere. These actions illustrate the Monster’s natural impulse for needs of food and shelters.
Soon after, the Monster discovers the De Lacey family and starts to learn the language, emotions, and many other human traits. For example, when the Monster watches Mr. De Lacey comforting Agatha by hugging, playing the guitar, and telling stories, the creature expresses his feeling as a mixture of pain and pleasure such as he never experienced before. He also learns that the family is poor, and instantly quits stealing food from them. So the Monster starts to have an ability to think reasonably and sympathize with people.
Moreover, the Monster learns history and social systems from Felix’s instructions to Safie, and becomes a rational, deep thinking being. All these actions of the Monster apparently show that nurture outweighs the nature of the Monster. Also, the story of the De Lacey family draws the significance of how nurturing determines one’s personality and characteristics. “The patriarchal lives of my protectors caused these impressions to take a firm hold on my mind; perhaps, if my first introduction to humanity had been made by a young soldier, burning for glory and slaughter, I should have been imbued with different sensations.

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”(92)
The quote introduces an importance of nurture, and proves that nurture is the leading factor which forms the creature rather than nature. Through the novel, I could notice these tensions between the nature and nurture, and therefore I think nature vs. nurture is the central idea of the novel.


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