Free Will In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

1035 Words5 Pages
For a story of destiny, creation, and endless adventure, the characters involved in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are imprisoned. All three narrators of the story tell one of their own but have a common feature between them. No matter what their intentions, mission, or goals are, the characters are all self-enslaved. Walton, Victor, as well as the Creature lack the ability to act upon the free will in which they are given in countless instances This enslavement denies the characters the ability to pursue objectives outside of their respective destinies. Although family, ambition, and creation are common themes throughout the book, I believe the main conflict is the constant struggle between the characters and their predetermined destinies. This…show more content…
Free will is a theme that was introduced by Captain Walton, when he said in a letter to his sister, “What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?” (M. Shelley). Walton, supporting “free will and the power of man to impose his will upon nature,” (Reed) is contrasted by Victor, who says, “Nothing can alter my destiny: listen to my history, and you will perceive how irrevocably it is determined” (M. Shelley). Victor contrasts what Walton says by believing that his destiny was predetermined all along and that he had no say in it. While they have differing views, they are both trapped. Walton is enslaved within his determination and Victor within his predetermined destiny. Because they didn’t act on their free will, they were both confined to their…show more content…
While they refuse to act upon their free will, their relentless pursuits carry each of them away from society. This, in turn, isolates them from the world outside themselves. While talking about the character’s fates, Hogle exclaims that “obsessive quests for truth beyond the domus lead to the drift of alienation and the cold prison of self-involvement” (Hogle). This conflict is damaging, and a large part of the reason why each character’s story ends so badly. In one of Mary Shelley’s essays, “On Love,” she describes selfishness as “the offspring of ignorance and mistake; it is the portion of unreflecting infancy, and savage solitude, or of those whom toil or evil occupations have [blunted or rendered torpid;] disinterested benevolence is the product of a cultivated imagination, and has an intimate connexion with all the arts which add ornament, or dignity, or power, or stability to the social state of man” (P. Shelley). Each of the three narrators become selfish. They become isolated, alone, and struggle throughout the story to prevent their destined demise. While each character becomes so obsessed with their goals, they become lost and confined within themselves. This is a major piece of the thematic development of Frankenstein
Open Document