Perspectives on Human Nature in ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Moby-Dick’ Essay

Perspectives on Human Nature in ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Moby-Dick’ Essay

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Romantic literature, at its very essence, attempts to deal with the subject of human nature (Wang, 2011). Both Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick,’ being Romantic texts, each offer their own perspective on the true essence of humanity. While their perspectives are largely similar due to the era they originated in, with both reasoning that humanity possesses an excessive pride in the desire to exceed its limits that is capable of immense devastation and corruption of others (Penguin Group, 2011; Ross, 2001), they are also somewhat different when it comes to the ability characters possess to recognise the damage they cause (eNotes.com, 2010; Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 2010), a separating factor that differentiates just how destructive each author believes human nature can be (Kim, 2011).

Beginning with the similarities ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Moby-Dick’ possess in terms of their reflections on the human condition, the protagonists of each, Victor and Ahab respectively, both possess an evident hubris that causes them to elevate themselves to the role of God in a desire to take control of their surroundings (Penguin Group USA, 2011; Ross, 2001). This quality is evident in Victor particularly during the early stages of the novel where he wishes to excel natural limits by removing death from the world (Harris, 2008). As literary scholar Michael Cummings (2009) explains, “Victor Frankenstein believes he has the right as a scientist to pursue truth and knowledge even when his quest ventures into the domain of the divine.” However, because Victor’s pride in himself causes him to possess this belief, he subsequently fails to consider the moral impacts of his activities and thus his creation eventually wrecks dest...


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...kenstein, viewed November 11, and 12, 2011,
• Ross, J, 2001, Moby Dick Themes, viewed November 11, and 12, 2011,
• Shelly, M, 1831, ‘Frankenstein’, in Shelly, M, Stoker, B, & Stevenson, R. Frankenstein; Dracula; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Signet Classics), Published in 1978 by the New American Library Inc., New York.
• Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008, Queequeg in Moby-Dick, viewed November 12, 2011,
• SparkNotes Editors, 2002, Moby-Dick: Context, viewed November 12, 2011,
• Wang, C, 2011, On the Features of the Active Romantic Literature, viewed November 11, 2011,

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