The novel’s support of tabula rasa is easiest to see through the creature’s emotional development. The creature himself is of the opinion that he became who he is through his relations with his surroundings. His development also has many parallels to a child’s; after being created, he “could distinguish nothing; but, feeling pain invade me on all sides…’’ (Shelley 68). This stimuli overload is similar to what a newborn experiences, when it can’t see or hear as precisely as an adult can. It takes time for the brain to develop and for neurons to develop connections that allow for proper sensation and perception. Also akin to a child, the creature didn’t know how to speak immediately; the only things that he could utter were “uncouth and inarticulate sounds” (69). A big step in the emotional development of the creature is seeing the cottagers; these are the first humans that he develops a bond with, even though it is one-sided. Before, humans are something to be feared, with the creature being “still more [miserable] from the barbarity of man” (Shelley 71). Even, at first sight, the cottagers evoke a very positive response from him; he states that “the silver hair and benevolent countenance, won my reverence; while the gentle manners of the girl enticed my love” (Shelley 72). Though the creature doesn’t yet sho...
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... skill to taunt Frankenstein into chasing him, writing “My reign is not yet over…” (142). All things to be taken for granted from a genius mastermind, but made impressive by not only the creature’s origins but also the quality of his early developmental period. Though his emotional state is something that is very obviously affected by the events surrounding him, his level of intelligence is a triumph in spite of it.
Despite modern research revising its extremism, tabula rasa remains both an important historical concept and certainly at least a partial truth; a child’s self-esteem, emotional health, and intelligence can be all affected positively and negatively by the surroundings it grows up in. Frankenstein shows full support of the idea when it comes to one’s emotional development, but perhaps less so when it comes to the level of intelligence that one possesses.
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