Society’s Humanity and Oppression in Frankenstein
"What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?" This question, posed by Captain Robert Walton on page 22 of Mary Shelley's immortal Frankenstein, lies susceptible to interpretation to mean the ambition of man in one sense, but in another, the collective persecution and prejudice inherent in mankind.
With austere, scientific accounting of human nature, Shelley documents how zealous Captain Walton rescued Victor Frankenstein, the passionate student of natural philosophy and impetuous, chance creator of life, from death in the remote regions of the North Pole. It is through Walton's journal entries that readers comprehend Frankenstein's tale. After animating a lifeless human form, Victor recoiled in terror, afterwards recollecting, "Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath" (56). The monster's ghastly physical aspect and murder of five people, both directly and indirectly, introduced this instinctual horror to the people he had contact with, including peaceable cottagers. Driven to this homicidal extremity by acute loneliness, the brute pleaded with Frankenstein to imbue life on a female counterpart, that they might never plague humanity again. Frankenstein began to appease this human necessity, but at the essential moment of creation, destroyed her, fueling a bitter vengeance and the final, fatal chase of Frankenstein across pastoral and rustic Europe to the bleak immenses of the North Pole.
Murder, within the standards of any society, would be considered the most heinous, immoral act possible, and readers would condemn Shelley's monster readily, yet the authoress tr...
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...the violence of the change" (208), a common human handicap. Dashed expectations and social disenchantment endear him to memory through association of traumatic experience mortals claim in their lives. Dispelling any guilt of evil, the entreaty for justice appeals to social values when the monster finishes, "I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned. Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal when all humankind sinned against me?" (210). Mary Shelley confessed her intent in writing this novel was partially "for the delineating of human passions," consistent with the prevailing notion of naturalism at the time. Victor Frankenstein had studied natural philosophy and, to a measure, Shelley analyzed nature and its discord with society. Through the wondrous humanity and oppression of the monster, society's humanity is debated.
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