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Social Belonging In Frankenstein

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The moment Victor Frankenstein successfully infuses life into his creation he is overcome with horror and disgust. Without further examination he is certain to have created a monster, not a human being (Shelley 35-36). However, despite his grotesque appearance, Frankenstein’s creature was not born malicious. During the first stages of his existence, unbeknownst to Frankenstein himself, his acts are motivated by innocence and virtue, which even earns him the title “good spirit” (79). Frankenstein did not create a monster. An unsatisfied need for a sense of belonging transforms Frankenstein’s creature into the monster it ultimately becomes. Therefore, I argue that the predominant theme in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the need for social belonging…show more content…
Frankenstein’s creature initially shows no signs of ill will or malice when first encountering human beings (Shelley 72-73). On the contrary, through careful observation he is able to learn more about human society and personal relationships. He begins to admire the close connection between the people he observes and respects their virtue. This, however, makes him realise what he is missing. Observing the love and affection between others only increases the effect his own solitude has on him. He is aware of his otherness and knows that he is “shut out from intercourse” (84) with the people he holds so dear. It can be argued that this is the point where the creature’s humanity is the strongest throughout the course of story. He has a basic understanding of human societies, he speaks and reads their language, shows compassion and, most importantly, seeks their company and friendship. In his knowledge that social belonging is the missing component to his own happiness, he confronts the people he secretly observed only to, once again, be met with fear and anger (94-95). He comes to realise that he…show more content…
Whereas Frankenstein does not properly value the domestic affection he is given until it is violently taken from him, his creation learns that this is what values most in life and yet is not able to gain this affection from others. Francis Bacon says in his essay Of Friendship “I have given the rule, where a man cannot fitly play his own part; if he have not a friend, he may quit the stage”. Shelley highlights the need for a sense of belonging and companionship by letting both her main figures suffer the pain of not having this need fulfilled and, in consequence, they both “quit the stage” (Bacon) and turn their backs on humanity. Social isolation, although through different circumstances, was the predominant cause for both Frankenstein and his creature’s demise. Even Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley’s husband, wrote in his preface to Frankenstein about the “amiableness of domestic affection” (Shelley 9). By denying both main characters the sensation of domestic affection, or any other kind of social belonging, Mary Shelley highlights the importance thereof. The resulting isolation became the driving force behind both Frankenstein and his creation’s abominable actions which, in turn, shows that trying to avoid isolation and seeking the feeling of social belonging is the primary message of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of
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