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Nature vs. Nurture in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a comparison of Nature vs. Nurture. Some critics argue that the Being is a monster from birth, while others claim that it cannot be limited to such a narrow category. The argument lies in the education of the Being. He is not a born killer, but is created by the rejection of society. The Being is born an innocent creature with ability to appreciate the sublime, but after learning about human emotions, he is transformed into a monster through the emotional rejection he receives from a human family.

The Being is ignorant about the world around him for the first half of his life. He does not harm or attack another human being. He moves and reacts in similar fashions to that of an infant, however, due his size and appearance humans, including the Being’s creator, run away in fear. The Creator exclaims to a friend:

His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped, and rushed down stairs. I took refuge...


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...imately leads to his transition from innocent child to heartless killer. The knowledge he gains in the forest shows his innocence but the false sense of acceptance he gains from mimicking the De Lacy family is the main influence leading to his transformation. His desire to be accepted and his obsession with affection are the main forces that lead to his change in character. Ruthless monsters are not born monsters, they are made into mosters.



Works Cited
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. J. Paul Hunter, New York: Norton & Company, 1996

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