Monday, July 28, 2008


What is Shelley saying in this novel about human nature and what people need in life? Give evidence from what you've read.


Me, Myself, and I said...

I think some points that Shelley makes are that humans are proud, especially about beauty, that we need someone to appreciate/need us (Victor made the monster to have someone to owe his/her/it's life to him), and that we can't always deal with the things we do. I should probably come up with some more things to add to this, but that's all I have to say right now.

martitr said...

yeah, Shelley is definitely saying pride is destructive. The classic tragic flaw of hubris. Victor played God and discovered he fell terribly short. Oops.

What's she saying on the positive side about how we should interact and what we are meant to do as human beings?

Me, Myself, and I said...

*in reference to the book
We should take care of each other, including people we don't know. We shouldn't judge people based on their looks; they might have a story to tell or be able to help us in return for something simple. Communication comes up a couple times (when the monster learns to talk, the foreign girl, Frankenstein not teaching his monster, his confession) throughout the story. We should first learn to communicate and then actually do so. It does no good to know how to do something if you never do it.

A Songbird Who Sings said...

Another point Shelley makes is that companionship is a necessity for people - Victor is only ever distracted from his melancholy (even temporarily) by Elizabeth and Clerval, and the monster is continually wishing for the love and kindness of others, most notably De Lacey's family.

Getting his hopes up that De Lacey will accept him only to be beaten and driven away by Felix in the end pretty much destroys the monster. He even goes so far as to threaten Victor and his loved ones in order to get him to make a female companion for him, just so he won't be alone.

Esbee D.B. said...

Well, I hate to just say, "I agree". . .but I do. Mostly. I've always thought the book less a direct condemnation of pride and more a warning to keep your ambition in check - that there are limits to what we can and should do and we shouldn't cross them, for our good as much as that of others. Victor lets his obsession with grand ideals overtake him entirely, so much so that he forgets the world around him by ignoring his love and refusing the science that the world had come to accept, and it ultimately spells out his ruin.

Relatedly, I agree 100% with the companionship comments. It's a lesson that he figures out too late, but ultimately the love and friendship of those around him were all that really mattered. The family especially are a fantastic example of how through each other they are able to overcome darkness, as even as poor as they were they found solace in one another.

martitr said...

The companionship theme is an important one -- we'll talk about that in terms of romanticism which (as you know from last year) focused on the individual and his/her imaginative life amongst other things. So in some ways, Frankenstein, though thoroughly Romantic in style and plot, is anti-Romantic in theme. The individual is NOT the highest good -- society and community is more important or at least equally important.