Frankenstein, By Mary Shelley Essay

1238 Words Aug 15th, 2015 5 Pages
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein discusses the mortal and moral limitations of individuals and the extent to which they attempt to transcend these boundaries. In particular, Shelley faults these attempts as foolhardy, brought forward by the misconstrued values and beliefs of ideologies prevalent at this time. Specifically, the Enlightenment movement (circa 1700s) valued pragmatism and individualism; believing that the pursuit of knowledge was noble and that nature was to be dominated by man. These values are shown in varying degrees within Victor Frankenstein, the Creature and Robert Walton. By use of characterisation, language and setting Shelley challenges these values and attitudes, instead favouring the mindset that natural forces controlled men and that extreme use of these values and attitudes would remove people of their humanity.
At the extreme end of the spectrum is Victor Frankenstein who wholly represents the ‘enlightened’ man. Frankenstein is presented as a privileged, wealthy and self-educated man who firmly believes that the pursuit of knowledge was far more important than any other potential ventures. Within the early chapters of the book Frankenstein shows little regard for human companionship once he discovers the power of animating life. Frankenstein’s exaggerated state of individualism leads to him making a comparison of his discovery to that of God’s (“happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me), and throughout the book, similar references are…

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