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Frankenstein, originally by Mary Shelly, is a compelling narrative on morality. It begins in a flash-forward through the eyes of ship captain Watson, an explorer still wet behind the ears. Longing for his name to be secured in immortality, Watson tries to be the first person to make it to the furthest reaches of the north – supposedly where no man has made it before. In regards to longing to be remembered is Victor Frankenstein, who is young and excitable in his many philosophies. He decides to create a human being of his own – the first of its kind. The two men met a little while before Victor’s eventual death; where he, disheveled and nearly insane, was stranded on a sliver of ice with all but one of his snow dogs perishing. Victor listens patiently to Watson’s mission statement only to recount his life story. He mentions that he was once from Geneva, choosing to study the sciences. There, he becomes inspired to create a man out of the parts of corpses to endow it with artificial life. However, his experiment did not create the perfect specimen like he would have hoped. The “monster” was grotesque, lumbering, and generally unacceptable by the general public. This horrified Frankenstein, causing him to cast the monster away in shame and forever shatter his sanity. He thereafter became paranoid. It was at this point that the monster is, by Victor, suspected of the murder of his younger brother. He learns the tragic news in a letter by Elizabeth, while he was under the care of his longtime friend. Setting back off to his homeland, Victor sees apparitions of the monster wherever he went. Their housemaid was also suspected of the same crime that the monster would confess. Confirming his suspicions, Frankenstein becomes even more distrusting of the monster – knowing that he would eventually send the beloved family friend to the gallows. The monster claims it was an act of retribution for the harsh nature of Victor Frankenstein upon his creation. Nevertheless, he pleads with Frankenstein to create a second being so that the monster could have a reprise from its lonely existence. Frankenstein is surprisingly convinced and sets out to create a bride to Frankenstein but destroys it in a fit of realization that his creation would be as horrid as the first. This, in turn, strikes the monster with inconsolable rage, causing it to vow revenge – one similar to the transgression caused by his creator. In turn, the monster kills Frankenstein’s bride, Elizabeth – his lifelong companion taken in by his parents. Frankenstein, throughout this experience, loses his friend who took care of him as well as his father who dies after Elizabeth’s murder. Frankenstein makes a lifelong promise to chase the monster to the ends of the earth and destroy that which should not have been created. However, he dies in the care of Watson. The monster, upon learning of Frankenstein’s death, mourns him before dying to join his creator in life, suffering, and finally in death.
In this novel, the meeting between Frankenstein and Watson was extremely memorable. This is because both were men of an exceptional drive at the beginning and end of their lives. Watson would start his introduction through the letter with his sister where he would describe an insatiable lust for ambitious discovery. He writes, “My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path” (Shelley 10). This, in turn, would be foreshadowing for the downfall of Frankenstein – a warning to Watson. The warning, become increasingly potent after Frankenstein’s life; he utters, “Seek happiness in tranquility, and avoid ambition, even if it be only the innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries” (Shelley 418). In their self-projected isolation, in the hope of some “excitement” that they would see as their ultimate goal in life, Frankenstein and Watson share much of their intelligence.
Based on the black mirror episode, “Nosedive,” a young ambitious lady is striving to excel in life beyond anyone’s expectation of her. “Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus,” can be loosely related. In “Nosedive,” the protagonist is extremely driven and does everything in her power to check the right boxes to reach the peak of her existence. Similarly, Frankenstein was extremely driven to be the first person to create an operational artificial life. He, in his mind, did everything correctly. However, like the protagonist of “Nosedive,” he does not succeed and is trapped in mind and body. Frankenstein is trapped in his mind that eventually collapses, and the protagonist of “Nosedive” in the body where she lands herself in a jail cell cursing the world. Watson would also connect with his boundless ambition but would end up in a happier place in comparison to Frankenstein. The protagonist of “Nosedive” lost everything – family and status. Both are narratives on the adverse effect of excess ambition.
The treatment of Frankenstein’s monster was a reflection of the cruelty of human nature. The monster, like real-world societal outcasts, shares a distinction. This is that the world makes it clear that there is no place for them. In society, if you are not cut from the same stone; whether it be race, religion, sexuality, beliefs, or appearances – you are seen as another. Others are thereby not permitted to be respected by normal society. This breeds loneliness, doubts, and rage. The three main characters in Frankenstein all share the distinction, that they fall under the category of others. Watson and Frankenstein and Watson both fit the mold of eccentrics. Their wild fantasies drove them away from normal fulfilling lives, driving them to seek thrilling dangers and securing themselves insolation. Frankenstein, in disgust of his deeds, sought out mental isolation where he believed himself no foreseeable happiness. Whereas, Watson chose intellectual isolation due to the fact that he was not originally a man of the sea and had his radical ideologies. Frankenstein’s monster falls closer to the traditional expectation of another. In Frankenstein’s view, the monster is grotesque and a crime of nature. This core belief is one expressed in various cultures spanning the entirety of human history – forced isolation by the face value of appearances. Those who thereby look and act differently are still innately human. The monster in the book was confronted by Frankenstein, claiming that due to his outward appearance he deserved to be scorned. The monster demonstrating his own core belief’s stated, “For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with disgust and loathing” (Shelley 217). This would also be a core value taught to those of civil society, one that Frankenstein in his heart would also have entertained before his descent into society. Overall, this is a narrative on selective exposure theory. Selective exposure theory is where an expectation of someone reaffirms their actions. In this book, Frankenstein reinforces the expectation that his monster was of a crude evil nature citing its murderous actions as a fact. This reinforcement prompted the monster to become what it is told, a murderer. It can be insinuated that Mary Shelly if published under her true identity, is seen as Frankenstein herself- due to society’s perception of her sex. As a woman at the time, she would be considered too endowed with ambition and her work a grotesque perversion of literature. Therefore, she chose to seclude herself, distancing her true identity to create a shell befitting society.
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