Frankenstein, Community, and the Individual

1689 Words7 Pages
Many innovations throughout the modern world have made life significantly easier, safer, of higher quality, and are said to be done for the "greater good of humanity". However, these accomplishments come at a cost, as expressed through the concepts of creation and responsibility that lie at the core of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It is through these concepts that Shelley explores how society has changed during Romanticism and the Industrial Revolution, with lessening importance on shared knowledge and the "public sphere" and more emphasis on individual achievement and identity, leading to a fractured and isolated society. In this paper I argue that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein criticizes the impacts of Industrial Revolution and Romantic era-inspired individualism on the community and individual, using Victor Frankenstein's disruption of the reproductive process and subsequent relationship with his creation as examples of potential negative consequences.

To begin our analysis, I will look to how Mary Shelley positions Victor Frankenstein's motivations to create life against natural laws within the ideas of individualism, as Victor can correlate directly to the educated human at the center of Enlightenment, Industrialism, and Romanticism values. With the burgeoning interest in scientific discovery during the Industrial Revolution "transform[ing] British culture" and "changing the world"(Lipking 2065), many concepts of society were also changed, which Shelley looked to explore through Victor's actions. Rooted in the scientifically curious spirit of Industrial England, Victor's attempt to create life can show many examples of how an importance of the individual acquisition of knowledge and accomplishment can disrupt society. Victor's...

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