Poor Parenting Revealed in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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"Victor Frankenstein, does not live up to his role model. He lacks compassion for his creation" (Madigan 3)

A predominant theme in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is that of child-rearing and/or parenting techniques. Specifically, the novel presents a theory concerning the negative impact on children from the absence of nurturing and motherly love. To demonstrate this theory, Shelly focuses on Victor Frankenstein’s experimenting with nature, which results in the life of his creature, or “child”. Because Frankenstein is displeased with the appearance of his offspring, he abandons him and disclaims all of his “parental” responsibility. Frankenstein’s poor “mothering” and abandonment of his “child” leads to the creation’s inevitable evilness. Victor was not predestined to failure, nor was his creation innately depraved. Rather, it was Victor’s poor “parenting” of his progeny that lead to his creation’s thirst for vindication of his unjust life, in turn leading to the ruin of Victor’s life.

Originally, Frankenstein had planned to use the results of his investigations to help mankind, but this focus soon transformed into an exhausting obsession; he became only concerned with the means, rather than the ends of his ambitious adventures. Therefore, Frankenstien did not take into account that he would be responsible for the outcome of his studies, namely the mothering, protecting and caring for the creation.

Victor never even fathomed the actual existence of the creature, somewhat resembling an unplanned pregnancy that was never emotionally and rationally dealt with even after the actual birth of the child. He certainly did not adequately prepare himself for parenthood.

One example of Victor’s complete disr...

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...ears with respect to childbearing and the care and upbringing of children. Complicated pregnancies and childbirth, miscarriages and death plagued her own youth and early adulthood. Of the four children she bore, only one survived to adulthood. She also experienced a miscarriage that nearly killed her. The issues of pregnancy and child development were pivotal issues in Mary Shelley’s own life, and her novel is a conveyance of her own feelings and philosophy about bearing and raising children

Works Cited

Defrain, John and Stinnett, Nick. Ilg. Secrets of Strong Families. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1985.

Madigan, P. The Modern Project to Rigor: Descartes to Nietzsche. Landham: UP of America, 1986.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Edited by: D.L. Macdonald & Kathleen Scherf. Broadview Editions. 3rd Edition. June 20, 2012

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