Personhood In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

1234 Words5 Pages
Many ideas about the requirements of personhood have been circulating throughout Earth’s history. Many relate to religion and spirituality, and many of the others either contribute to the people v. property debate of the abolition movement or the contemporary pro-life v. pro-choice debates. This paper will address a few of these proposed requirements and how they specifically relate to the Monster created by Victor Frankenstein in the popular novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in a secular and non-endorsing manner. This character will then be juxtaposed with a character of a separate work: Lucky from Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Through analysis of a few of the proposed necessities of personhood–consciousness, intelligence, and self-awareness–the…show more content…
This narrows down the playing field a good bit farther, eliminating most species of animals that exist today. Intelligence can be described and defined using many different interpretations, but a simple one that will suffice our purpose is thus: “the comparative level of performance of a system in reaching its own objectives” (Kaplan). The Monster in Frankenstein definitely shows evidence of having objectives and achieving them. After discovering fire and what uses it may have, the Monster says, “’I busied myself in collecting a great quantity of wood, that I might dry it, and have a plentiful supply of fire’” (Shelley 99). Being cold and in need of fire for warmth, the Monster set out to get the materials necessary, which he was successful in doing. He had a goal and managed to accomplish it. That is a prime example of intelligence as it is defined…show more content…
He has check marks next to all three components that define personhood, and thus must be defined as a person with certain unalienable rights. One of the strongest counter arguments, even after this justification, may be that the Monster does several things that could be considered inhuman. However, persons do acts of inhumanity every single day–be they arson, murder, theft, or even genocide. The argument that the Monster is a primitive creature that acts out of anger is invalid, for he does no worse crimes than the general society. He may be considered a Monster on the basis of his unique origins and physical appearance, but as has been shown, he deserves the equal treatment and justice as any other person would be
Open Document