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Frankenstein is one such book that covers more than a few themes and important ones at that. Marry Shelley in her novel Frankenstein points towards a few themes that were already very popular during her time. She expresses her concern about how the invention of new technologies can be both a positive and negative aspect of the advancing world. She addressed a few of these concerns indirectly through the story of her novel. Mary Shelley addresses a lot of concerns of hers in the novel but some of the concerns are not fully addressed or answered. Let us now focus on the major themes in the novel through which Mary Shelley has addressed her concerns.
First and foremost, the theme that we will discuss is the theme around which the whole novel circles, the theme of creation and birth. Frankenstein can also be said as a story of an ambitious scientist’s attempt to take on the role of the Creator himself and creating life. The scientist carries on with his experiments in an attempt to make life by himself, breaking the natural method, thus eliminating the role of woman. He scientifically builds a man in his laboratory and succeeds in giving life to it. In the Novel, Mary Shelley mocks the biblical story of birth where God had created Adam and Eve and told them to go and multiply. Victor Frankenstein, our scientist, in this novel, drawn by his thirst for knowledge, eliminates both women and God from this equation. According to our author, this is a huge disrespect of the scientist towards God and might also be considered a crime. The work of victor and his activities are referred to as ‘secret toils’ and the creation as ‘filthy’ thus in a way points a finger towards how Victor’s activities can be considered unlawful and unnatural. He seems to be disrupting or breaking the normal chain of things and thus, he violates the laws of nature.
The second theme that I will like to mention is the theme of nurture as well as parental responsibility. Mary Shelley’s novel also raises another direct question towards the important relation of a child and a parent. Victor Frankenstein is a being who created the creature, thus in a way the creature can be called his child.
According to some critics, the most detestable crime of Victor Frankenstein was trying to usurp God and take his powers in his own hand. However, some critics have a different opinion. According to them, the most heinous crime of Victor Frankenstein was to abandon his own creation. If we focus on the natural process, when a child is born, that child is in the complete care of its parents until they become completely familiar of the world they are born into. But Frankenstein abandons his child, his creation, based on the only reason that that creation is ugly. The creature is brought in to a world which it knows nothing about and is then abandoned in the alien land by its creator. Different parts of other beings, humans, animals, are stitched together to form the creature’s body, this giving him a frame and a somewhat ugly and horrifying look. Frankenstein didn’t pay much attention to it in the beginning but after finishing his work when he observed it, he was left feeling horrified and disgusted and thus abandoned the being without caring or nurturing him in any way. The creature even stretches his arm and says something to Frankenstein which he blatantly ignores and rushes out.
The creature had to self-educate himself about the world he was in through several encounters he had had with humans. He fed himself figs, nuts and roots and he also taught himself the language by hearing a man named Felix reading to Safie and how they communicated with each other. When they two, Frankenstein and the creature cross paths again, at first they exchange some harsh words. Even though Frankenstein was furious, the creature’s astounding hold over the language compelled the former to listen to his story and it was only after he had listened to his reasons and arguments that he how he had neglected his responsibility. The creature told him everything that he had gone through from when he was brought into existence till present time, his self- education and all the injustices he had to face which made him the violent creature that he presently was. It was the tale of the creature that made him realise that just creating was not enough, nurturing and caring was also his responsibility as a creator.
The third major theme of the novel Frankenstein is the idea of over-ambition. Ambition is the driving force which leads us to work harder, to do something big. However, there is a limit to everything including ambition. Mary Shelley associates Frankenstein with other mythical beings like Prometheus and Faustus. She feels that Victor Frankenstein crosses all limits in search of knowledge and also tries to take on the role of God. Over-ambitious Victor choses to go against the bible and eliminates the role of Eve by ruling out the role of women in creating life. Mary Shelley is not completely against ambitious. She however says that it is important that humans don’t forget their roles and responsibilities because of their ambition.
Another theme that is embedded throughout this novel is the theme of isolation. Victor Frankenstein spends his time alone and away from the world by choice. He had completely cut himself off from the world by choice as he wanted to finish his project which in the end, he abandons. Even with all his fear and pain, he couldn’t share it with anyone. The monster however was alienated and isolated by his creator. He was brought into this world unknown to him and was abandoned by the one person who was supposed to guide him through it. The gets treated very unjustly by mankind and doesn’t feel welcomed anywhere. Humans in the story treat him as a monster and he gets beaten and even shot at. His appearance frightens away everyone, making it impossible for him to befriend anyone. He seeks acceptance but is feared and rejected by everyone. He wanted to be accepted by his isolation was forced upon him by various situations and was not his fault. He becomes demonic and a rebel only after he had been rejected and hurt so many times by the people he tried to make friends with. The creature wasn’t born a monster. It was how he was treated, his isolation and loneliness and turned him into a monster. Since he never wanted to be isolated and alone, when he meets his creator for the second time, he asks Victor for a companion, a female, since he knows he will not be accepted by the society.
Mary Shelley thoroughly criticises the injustices in the society through her novel. The treatment that the monster receives from humanity is a glaring example of such injustice. Even though he helped out Felix and Safie and also saved a girl from drowning in the village, he was met with very rough treatment, boys threw stones at him, shot him and the villagers drove him out. All these happened to him just because he had a different shape from others and didn’t look beautiful.
Along with the society Mary Shelley also critics the manner in which justice is administered. Innocent people were punished without any crime and the ones who surrendered and confessed their crimes were given only five years in prison. Mary Shelley truly points out that the creature turning into the monster is a direct result of all the discriminations inflicted upon him by those people whom he tried to consider friends. Very clearly Mary Shelley, with the help of her novel points out that monsters, be it the creature of a few humans who are called monsters for the things they have done, are not born that way, it is because of how the society treats them that they become into monsters.
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