Social norm Essay
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On top of this, by relating to Prometheus and the Gods in her work, Shelley once again demonstrates her romanticist mind-set. During the book, both Frankenstein and his creation go against what is the norm in their society through their actions and their opinions. Romantics often valued the rejection of authority and social norms; Mary and her husband Percy were, themselves, quite unconventional: they eloped together in 1814, despite the fact that Percy, a political radical, free thinker and poet, was already married to his first wife, Harriet.
They lived an unconventional lifestyle, despite the fact that both of them were highly ranked in the social order of the day. Mary and Percy’s rejection of the norm is obviously reflected in Frankenstein. Victor’s responsibilities for the monster are highlighted by Mary Shelley in chapters sixteen and seventeen, turning the tide of opinion against Victor, and making out the monster’s actions to be a direct result of his poor treatment at the hands of his creator, who “cast [him] abroad for the scorn and horror of mankind.
” The monster emphasises the point when he points out that “… my creator, would tear me to pieces, and triumph… ” meaning that in reality Victor is no better than his creation in many aspects. As the monster’s creator, Victor feels that in a way he is responsible for his creations negative emotions and his violent attitude, and so a sense of guilt is invoked. The book was influenced greatly in its themes of loneliness and the results of being rejected and alone, by Mary’s own mother’s work, ‘The Vindication of the Rights of Women’.
This book explored how children need to be raised in a loving environment, and how people who are treated wrongly go on to commit terrible wrongs themselves. This relates to the fact that Frankenstein’s monster was rejected by everyone he met, and so went on to commit murder and ruin Frankenstein life through a series of actions. The monster sums this up by simply stating “I am malicious because I am miserable. ” This theme of men being moulded into who they are by how they are treated, was one Mary Shelley was evidently interested in.
Her works were influenced greatly by those of Rousseau. This influential romantic philosopher had many ideas on how man is influenced by society. One of his main convictions was that men are born naturally good, but are changed by socialization. Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin- and another of her greatest influences- also shared the same opinion. Rousseau wrote the Social Contract- a work that explores society and tries to find a more ideal social and political state set-up. This social contract influenced Shelley greatly, as well as the leaders of the French revolution.
The revolution itself also had a part to play in the shaping the character of the monster, as Shelley observed that one of the reasons the French revolted, rebelled and, in many people’s opinions, ‘behaved badly’, was because they had, themselves, been treated poorly by the monarchy. Therefore, Mary Shelley emphasises Victor’s ill treatment of the monster to underline the point that if a man is treated badly, he will in turn behave badly- in many ways, this is Shelley’s way of commenting on society and the way people acted at the time.
After so enthusiastically building the monster, Frankenstein shuns and disregards his completed creation, and during a previous chapter calls his creation a “… a vile insect… a wretched devil! ” This generates a high level of sympathy for the monster from the reader, as it seems that Frankenstein may be the person in the wrong and the cause of his own despair, not, in fact, his creation. The idea of Frankenstein rejecting his creation is much like the idea of parents rejecting their children: Shelley believed very strongly that children must be brought up in a loving family if they are to grow up to be civil, good citizens.
She evidently wanted to convey this point in her work, and so wove the idea into the story of Frankenstein. On the other hand, there are several points displayed in chapters sixteen and seventeen that strongly disagree with the idea of a companion for the monster. The fact that the monster committed extremely violent murders, and is generally inclined towards violence, is a huge argument against a companion, as it poses the question does the monster really deserve a companion after he has committed such terrible deeds?
The monster recounts how his “heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph” after he had murdered William- these feelings of joy and gloating over another’s death is certainly a reason not to sympathise with the monster. Victor expresses his own doubt when he says “Shall I create another like yourself, whose joint wickedness might desolate the world! ” This means he feels that if he creates a companion, the two of them may continue to cause chaos and commit various other murders, together.
To conclude, I believe that, despite the counter arguments, Mary Shelley successfully incites a strong sense of sympathy for the monster throughout the course of chapters sixteen and seventeen. The effective use of emotive language, and the inclusion of some very strong arguments for the monster’s cause, such as the fact that he feels rejected and alone, wins over the reader’s sympathy. I believe the biggest factor in creating a sense of sympathy for the monster is the fact that he has been “spurned and deserted” by everyone, including his own creator.
This because a majority of people can empathise with this feeling of rejection, and so feel connected to the monster in a small way. However, all Shelley’s techniques and arguments worked to achieve the pity I undoubtedly felt for the monster nearing the end of chapter seventeen. Later on in the book, however, Victor pays the price for ignoring his feelings of guilt and responsibility, as he eventually refuses to create the companion, and suffers the consequences…