External Conflict in Frankenstein

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About this sample


Words: 629 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 629|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Conflict of Society vs. Individual
  2. The Conflict of Man vs. Nature
  3. The Conflict of Knowledge vs. Ignorance
  4. Conclusion

Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley, is a novel filled with external conflicts that contribute to the overall theme and plot of the story. These conflicts arise from various sources, including societal norms, personal ambitions, and the struggle for power. Through the examination of these conflicts, it becomes evident that they play a crucial role in shaping the characters and the narrative. This essay will explore the external conflicts in Frankenstein and analyze their implications on the story, ultimately highlighting the consequences of these conflicts on the characters and society as a whole.

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The Conflict of Society vs. Individual

One of the primary external conflicts in Frankenstein is the clash between societal expectations and individual desires. Victor Frankenstein, the protagonist, faces immense pressure from society to conform to its norms and expectations. However, he is driven by his personal ambition to create life and pursue scientific discovery, which directly contradicts societal boundaries. This conflict is evident in Victor's pursuit of knowledge and his decision to create the monster.

Victor's ambition to create life is a direct challenge to societal norms, as it goes against the natural order of things. Shelley portrays this conflict through Victor's words: "Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through and pour a torrent of light into our dark world" (Shelley, 56). Victor's desire to push the limits of science and transcend societal boundaries ultimately leads to disastrous consequences. The conflict between society and the individual is a recurring theme in Frankenstein, highlighting the tension between personal ambitions and societal expectations.

The Conflict of Man vs. Nature

Another significant external conflict in Frankenstein is the struggle between man and nature. Shelley portrays nature as a force that is both awe-inspiring and dangerous, capable of both nurturing and destroying life. This conflict is exemplified through Victor's creation of the monster, which disrupts the natural order of things and challenges the boundaries of life and death.

The monster, born out of Victor's scientific experiment, is an unnatural creation that is rejected by both society and nature. The monster's existence represents a violation of the natural order, leading to conflict between him and the world around him. This conflict is highlighted in the monster's words: "I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel" (Shelley, 100). The monster's yearning for acceptance and his subsequent isolation reflect the conflict between man and nature, emphasizing the consequences of defying natural boundaries.

The Conflict of Knowledge vs. Ignorance

A third external conflict in Frankenstein revolves around the tension between knowledge and ignorance. Throughout the novel, Shelley explores the dangers of unchecked knowledge and the consequences of playing God. Victor's relentless pursuit of scientific discovery leads to the creation of the monster, which ultimately brings him misery and destruction.

The conflict between knowledge and ignorance is highlighted in Victor's realization after creating the monster: "Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge" (Shelley, 92). Victor's warning serves as a cautionary tale against the dangers of pursuing knowledge without considering the ethical implications. This conflict underscores the negative consequences of unchecked ambition and the need for responsible use of knowledge.

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The external conflicts in Frankenstein, including the clash between society and the individual, man and nature, and knowledge and ignorance, play a significant role in shaping the narrative and the characters. These conflicts highlight the consequences of defying societal norms, challenging the natural order, and pursuing knowledge without ethical considerations. Through the exploration of these conflicts, Mary Shelley prompts readers to reflect on the implications of these themes in their own lives and society as a whole. Frankenstein serves as a timeless reminder of the potential dangers that arise from external conflicts and the importance of balance and responsibility in human endeavors.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

External Conflict in Frankenstein. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“External Conflict in Frankenstein.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
External Conflict in Frankenstein. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
External Conflict in Frankenstein [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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