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Empathy and Reading: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Essay Example

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Essay

Without Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s romantic novel, Frankenstein, a significant number of female writers, could never have felt safe to exhibit dark creativity and intellectual reflection. She says I never saw a more exciting creature: his eyes generally have an expression of wildness, and even madness; but there are moments when, if one performs an act of kindness towards him, or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equaled. Throughout the novel, Frankenstein illustrates empathy in showing love and regret to the monster she creates by herself.

The pursuit of free will and determinism is quite a fascinating feature of Frankenstein. Shelly poses a question asking where the line is drawn between what we ought to do and what we can do.   The novel shows a living being created out of dead tissues, something that is deemed unnatural; however, since the act was technically possible, does it make it natural? The theory of scientific advancement may imply that Frankenstein is right in creating a being and performing this work to extend the understanding and superiority of humanity across the universe. Still, it is evident from the tragic results of the experiments that he should never have gone the road of life creation himself. The invitation to discuss this philosophical dilemma creates the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

The argument of what we can and what we ought to do, generally speaking, is about whether humans are indeed able to direct their behavior, or whether their acts are predetermined instead, entirely beyond their control. Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea, and every sight afforded by these beautiful regions seem still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. A philosopher from ancient Greece addressed this: Shelley’s novel uses science fiction as a basis for putting the argument into a contemporary context.

In the novel Frankenstein, what makes the question of free will and determinism most relevant is that the creation of his creature has been entirely formulated with his stipulation. Chemistry is a branch of natural philosophy in which the most significant improvements have been and may be made. A man would make but a very sorry chemist if he attended to that department of human knowledge alone. In essence, he discovered the exact scientific method that underlies every step of creating the monster. This structural creation of a living being enables anyone to make the inference that Frankenstein architected the creature as an individual entirely-and that his nature is in effect accountable for his behaviors since Frankenstein cannot dictate anything else.

Of course, after his development, the monster indeed learns things by himself. Still, this acquiring of new information indicates that the monster’s actions only became exogenous in this process. After days and nights of incredible labor and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. Through the books Paradise Lost, the Sorrows of Werter, and Plutarch’s Lives, Frankenstein’s creation admits to learning ways to think and feel about issues.  Therefore, while Frankenstein may not be entirely responsible for his creation’s behaviors, the monster also appears as not accountable for his actions.

However, this way, we see the monster as conceptually removed from humanity; since we know about his creation, we can easily visualize his actions and consider him as rather an incredibly hideous human. Even so, the novel complicates this matter: while for this reason, the creature can appear removed from humanity, does this, in actuality, differentiate the monster from humankind?

The novel cites several cases of parallelism suggesting we are not very different from the monsters, and sometimes we act just like them. “How sweet is the affection of others to such a wretch as I am!”The monster and Frankenstein both take account of the nature of their creators and of the many external influences that have affected their life; the undeniable fact is we are aware of course that Frankenstein created the monster. However, taking a step back and thinking about Frankenstein, we realize himself is a result of the creation process: only that two parents created him instead of one scientist. Is there a logical difference? In both cases, maybe not: the science underlying the creation of the creature essentially dictates how the monster behaves in tandem with external forces.

The novel itself reflects many of the same subjects as the narrative of Frankenstein. For instance, Frankenstein’s monster is a living entity that incorporates different parts of an old body in new life. Shelly uses direct quotations as well as references to other past literary books and poems in this novel. In this way, the work acts as a composite image of several earlier tales with a “new life,” much like the monster.

Similarly, Frankenstein creates a new life from old, which in turn creates itself through learning and reads about the creation of Adam and subsequently asks Frankenstein for the nature of a partner. Additionally, production can be seen in three levels, between R. Walton and his letters to his sister, Frankenstein and R Walton through letters and the monster and Frankenstein through his story. In this way, the text itself can be seen as a continuous discovery of what creating something is.

Soon after bringing the monster to life, Frankenstein is terrified and feels guilty for creating it without provisions. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. This guilt and sense of lack of responsibility force him to run away in fear far from his creation. Besides, he was also running away from his guilty conscience. In other words, he felt that he had done something he ought not to have done. In this case, therefore, it seems that if we can do something, like create a new life, we ought to take responsibility for its behavior.

To question the responsibility of the creator on the actions of his creation is one way the text explores the concept of free will and determinism. Almost immediately after he creates the monster, Frankenstein eschews his nature. The tortures of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained by innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore my bosom, and would not forego their hold. The monster blames Frankenstein for this and compels Frankenstein to create a mate for him as a way of being responsible and fixing his mistakes. The monster punishes him when he refuses; Frankenstein eventually believes that destroying the creature is something he ought to do. However, Frankenstein and his creation are bound together; this bond forms the basis of the creator’s responsibility for creation’s actions.

The concept of responsibility in the novel focuses on cons events that would have entirely changed the future path — events that were necessary to accomplish a wide range of future events. For instance, Frankenstein doubts that if his father had not scoffed at his interest in alchemy and such, he would have undertaken the creation of the monster (Shelly, 8). Likewise, the beast blames his poor lot of life on the creator’s negligence and deformed craftsmanship (Shelly, 436). In this case, we are invited to empathize on whether this is an accurate measure of causal dependency and responsibility.

The theory that people’s behavior is conditioned dependent on a mixture of their physiology and environmental input is mainly the hypothesis of behaviorism. Nowadays, this view is considerably limiting in terms of human nature; however, Frankenstein stresses that our acts are not conceived solely as a result of our agency, but to some degree, at least. Our world, in general, in conjunction with interactions with other people and the available literature leads us to behave and to think in a particular way-and maybe we should, as such, extends the reach to who is responsible for one’s acts.

 

Work Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein (Norton Critical Editions). WW Norton & Company, 2011.

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