Free Essays - Themes and Voices in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Free Essays - Themes and Voices in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Themes and Voices in Frankenstein

 

 

 

There are many different narrative voices that take place in the novel Frankenstein. These narrative voices not only help the reader appeal to different characters, but they develop characters personality as well.

 

The monster's character evolves in many ways throughout the novel, depending on the point of view it's coming from. When the monster himself speaks (first person) the reader tends to feel sympathy as well as pity, towards him. He is loving and gentle at the beginning of his life, childlike in his curiosity and experiences, but after several harsh encounters with humans, he becomes bitter. Thus seeking revenge on his creator for making him so hideous and rendering him permanently lonely because of his ugliness. He doesn't come across nearly as horrific as he is believed to be in the eyes of Frankenstein. All the monster wanted was to love and to be loved in return and instead he was the true outcast of society. The monster shows a unique ability to analyze humanity because, though he's not a human himself, he has the intelligence of one. He explains, "I heard about the slothful Asiatics; of the stupendous genius and mental activity of the Grecians; of the wars and wonderful virtue of the early Romans--of their subsequent degenerating--of the decline of that mighty empire; of chivalry, Christianity, and kings." This synopsis of culture in a nutshell shows the monster's ability to put humanity in perspective. Yet this education only furthers the monster's realization that he is disconnected from the humans he admires.

 

The reader's take on the monster however changes dramatically when Victor is the narrator. Frankenstein's creation becomes a wretched and terrible villain of the story when it is told through him (third person). For example Victor's disgust and hatred for the monster is evident right from the first time he sees him, as he says "A flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom I had given life." When the story is told through Victor it is all about what the monster is doing to him and how heartless the creature is.

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Without Victor's biased view, the story wouldn't be as intriguing, but it does prove the vast difference in a character's development depending on who it's coming from.

 

Robert Walton was an indirect narrator of the story as well, he tells Victor Frankenstein's story through letters to his sister, Margaret Saville. Walton is a self-educated man who set out to reach and explore the North Pole and find an Arctic passage to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He comes across as a very pompous individual, when speaking, which in turn gives the reader a sense of his self-centered nature. Which is shown when he says "Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration." Walton's trip to the Arctic makes him come across as being quite naïve, in that he doesn't realize all that could go wrong during his exploration. He only knows what he read in books, nothing from first hand experience. Walton isn't a major character in the novel however, and unfortunately the reader doesn't have the chance to see him through another point of view. Thus we can only believe that he really is obsessed with himself, and that he puts himself above others.

 

In conclusion, you can't judge a book by it's cover (the way the monster was judged solely by his looks). Also, there are many different narrative voices that take place in the novel Frankenstein, which help the reader appeal to different characters, and also show the character's personality evolve.

 

Themes are often included in literature in order to provide more meaning and a better understanding for readers everywhere. In Frankenstein the author conveys the theme of loneliness/isolation by using the point of views of two different characters (Frankenstein and the monster) that suffer from the same thing. In Frankenstein's quest to create a companion for himself, he accidentally creates a monster, who becomes a threat to Frankenstein himself, as well as the rest of society. Due to Frankenstein's feeling of loneliness, after giving life to such a creature, he feels as if the only way to right his wrong would be to unleash this monster into the world where he feels that his creation will be alone. Because he is not guided or watched over, this creature violently kills whoever it comes in contact with, which causes Frankenstein to return to his home town, where several of these murders occur. While at his home once again, with his family, Frankenstein begins to recognize that he was not at all, as lonely as he thought he was. If he had taken the time to analyze his own feelings, he could have avoided such a huge conflict that arose from him feeling the way he did.

 

In Frankenstein, the monster conveys another form of loneliness that allows readers to further understand this character. The creature's loneliness causes him to perform horrible actions such as murder, because he too desires a companion. In order to obtain this companion, the creature continues to kill whom ever it comes in contact with until he comes in contact with Frankenstein himself, so that he can demand that the doctor create a mate for this creature. Although this creature seems to be a victim of his own ignorance, he does express human emotions and feels as if his troubles will also be over when he gets a companion.

 

The pursuit of knowledge is another apparent theme in Frankenstein, as Victor attempts to surge beyond accepted human limits and access the secret of life. Likewise, Robert Walton attempts to surpass previous human explorations by endeavoring to reach the North Pole. This ruthless pursuit of knowledge proves dangerous, as Victor's act of creation eventually results in the destruction of everyone dear to him, and Walton finds himself perilously trapped between sheets of ice. Whereas Victor's obsessive hatred of the monster drives him to his death, Walton ultimately pulls back from his treacherous mission, having learned from Victor's example how destructive the thirst for knowledge can be.

 

Another theme that comes out in the novel is that of nature. As Robert Walton prepares for his journey to the North Pole, the beauty of nature in St. Petersburg impresses him because he believes it is a hint of how glorious the North Pole will be. His excitement is heightened by the brisk and picturesque world around him, and in that way nature plays an important part in his journey to the North Pole. The natural world, as a source of unrestrained emotional experience for the individual, initially offers characters the possibility of spiritual renewal. Swamped in depression and remorse after the deaths of William and Justine for which he feels responsible, Victor heads to the mountains to lift his spirits. Likewise, after a hellish winter of cold and abandonment, the monster feels his heart lighten as spring arrives. The influence of nature on mood is evident throughout the novel, but for Victor, the natural world's power to console him wanes when he realizes that the monster will haunt him no matter where he goes.

 

In conclusion, themes are often included in literature in order to provide more meaning and a better understanding for readers. In Frankenstein the author conveys many different themes; some which are quite obvious and others that are more subtle.

 

 
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