Essay on The Moral And Social Development Of Mary Shelley 's Frankenstein

Essay on The Moral And Social Development Of Mary Shelley 's Frankenstein

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Why is it that neglected children tend to develop into abusive parents? After all, it seems as if neglected children would strive to be great parents—to give their own children better lives than their parents gave them. In many cases, however, this common-sense premise proves to be false, as many individuals evolve from being the abused to being the abuser. This inescapable cycle of violence is a train without a destination—once one gets on, he never gets off. One could argue, however, that this evolution is genetic; the genes that make one parent abusive would likely be passed on to his own child. Nevertheless, this explanation does not hold true for the myriad of cases of children who exhibit positive, prosocial behaviors early in life. Mary Shelley considers one such case in her gothic novel Frankenstein. In this text, she describes the moral and social development of Victor Frankenstein’s creation across his lifespan, from his benevolent and empathetic predispositions immediately after being created to his malicious behaviors later in life. By depicting the Creature’s increasingly heinous crimes, Shelley argues that, even for innately good individuals, neglect and rejection early in life irrevocably lead to violent tendencies.
To begin, many individuals resort to violence as a result of their neglectful parental figures’ higher standards of life for themselves than for their children. While justifying his spree of malevolent murders to Walton after the death of Victor, the Creature describes the fury that Victor’s self-important disposition had created in him. Shelley writes:
‘But when I discovered that he, the author at once of my existence and of
its unspeakable torments, dared to hope for happiness; that while he

... middle of paper ...

...outrageous act of violence. Whenever such an incident occurs, people often wonder how seemingly normal, healthy individuals could transform so dramatically into malicious, ruthless killers. The answer, it seems, rests in the hands of their peers and relatives. If Loughner had not been rejected in high school, six dead people might still be alive. In the search for solutions to the United States’ gun violence epidemic, many people consider the larger picture: the prevalence of violence in American culture, the availability of guns, and the failure to identify individuals with mental illnesses. Perhaps, though, this epidemic can be resolved on a much smaller scale—by simply valuing the lives of all human beings, regardless of appearance or perceived qualities. By doing so, the train of violence, which has no destination, may be prevented from leaving in the first place.

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