Sympathy in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Sympathy in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Mary Shelley was born in 1797. She had a difficult life with many

family upsets’, miscarriages and suffered personal depression; she

died aged 53. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein firstly as a short ghost

story but it was published as a novel in 1816.

Frankenstein is a Gothic novel and it deals with two genres, Gothicism

and science fiction. Gothicism is part of the Romantic Movement that

started in the late eighteenth century. The Romantic Movement is based

on freedom of thought and expression and the belief of living in an

age of new beginnings and high possibilities. Science fiction explores

the marvels of discovery and achievement that may result from future

developments in science and technology. Mary Shelley has obviously

used the idea of new technology to create an original novel.

Frankenstein is about a young man called Victor who has a thirst for

knowledge and ambition. He discovers the secret of animating lifeless

matter and, by assembling corpses, creates a monster that vows revenge

on his creator after being rejected from society.

This essay will be looking at how Shelley inspires sympathy for the

monster. Sympathy is a feeling or an expression of pity or sorrow for

the distress of another. Shelley creates sympathy for the monster by

creating themes of alienation and prejudice towards him. She also adds

subplots of the Delacy family and the monster’s lack of childhood to

create sympathy in Frankenstein.

The theme of alienation is very prominent throughout Frankenstein.

Alienation means estrangement, which is exactly what the monster was

going through. In volume two, we are able to understand the monster’s

tale through his own eyes. This creates...

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...n Victor fails to keep

his promise we sympathise for the monster even more.

Shelley inspires sympathy for the monster because he is alienated and

unwelcome. She makes the reader feel emotionally charged and involved

with the monster’s feelings by the depth of his expression of

rejection. Shelley also uses the theme of prejudice against the

monster. This is very powerful because it brings out the reader’s own

feelings on prejudice and helps the reader to identify with the

monster. Shelley creates an unpleasant background for the monster

because she deprives him of childhood and family support. This creates

sympathy for the monster because the reader’s own childhood

experiences help empathise with him.

I think that most sympathy is inspired when the monster starts to hate

himself and realise that he will never be accepted: “a wretched

outcast I was.”
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