Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in Frankenstein

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Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, wanted to understand what motivates human behavior. Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs to explain how human actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs. When basic needs are fulfilled, a person moves to more advanced needs, or levels, illustrated in his model. As Maslow discusses in his hierarchy of needs, human will not reach full development when the progression of levels is prevented. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley reinforces the restrain of one’s full potential through the development of the creature who has been denied the need for belonging as he begins his path of destruction. When the monster is created, he begins at the first level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The first level of Maslow’s hierarchy is physiological needs. These needs, including breathing, food, water, and sleep, are vital to survival. Although they are the most basic necessities, Maslow believed that these were “the more critical to survival” (Armstrong 75). In Frankenstein, the monster is forced to take care of these important needs on his own. After he is created, the monster “ate some berries which [he] found hanging on the trees, or lying on the ground. [He] slaked [his] thirst at the brook; and then lying down was overcome by sleep” (Shelley 87). In his hierarchy of needs, Maslow explains that once the needs of a certain level are satisfied “other (and ‘higher’) needs emerge and…dominate the organism” (Maslow 375). After the monster learns to manage his physiological needs, he is able to concentrate on the second level of Maslow’s hierarchy: safety needs. After the monster obtains food and water, he finds a place of security in the woods where he “retreated and lay down happy to have found ... ... middle of paper ... ...of “eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind” (Shelley 121) and therefore is unable to concentrate on his own self-esteem or self-actualization. As Maslow discusses in his hierarchy of needs, human will not reach full development when the progression of levels is prevented. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley reinforces the restrain of one’s full potential through the development of the creature who has been denied the need for belonging as he begins his path of destruction. The monster is able to satisfy the basic needs of Maslow’s hierarchy, but depends more on others to fulfill his need for love. As the monster is rejected of the need for love, he becomes more destructive and is unable to advance to the needs of self-esteem and self-actualization. Without the satisfaction of these needs the monster is denied the opportunity to reach full psychological development.

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