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“When I reflected that they had spurned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage of anger. ” Shelley had very open religious beliefs, and it is notable that alienation happens in society because of religion. At the time the novel was written Catholicism was a very oppressive faith, and Shelley was very strongly opposed to the idea. I think that Shelley is making an important point about oppressive faiths: Victor plays God, and as a result, his ‘people’ (the creature) are miserable and unfortunate.
Also, as ideas such as the principle of life were arising at the time, Shelley is voicing a remarkable argument: Because technology was fast approaching before humans had developed enough to know how use it, it was extremely worrying that any faith or religion which survives the mechanization of the world, provides no moral code for science. The creature is isolated by his behaviour. He is alone in the world and lives like primitive man. He eats berries from the trees and seeks shelter from trees and caves, and other natural forms.
He later realises that the embers he discovers produce fire, which in turn provides him with the three necessities of life: light, heat and food. It is essential for the sustenance of life on earth. Before this discovery, the daemon was isolated by his means of living and his primitive behaviour. In this instance, he is like the elderly today. They are uneducated, or not well enough informed of ‘new’ techniques that improve the standard of living. Many don’t have anybody to help them or to explain new concepts and discoveries, just as the creature doesn’t have a parental figure for guidance.
I think Shelley is informing us of the ongoing problem of alienation in any society, whatever age. The creature has no nurturing and no teacher, but above all, Frankenstein fashioned him repellently different from all humans so he is solitary in his appearance. Blindly, Frankenstein introduces an unsightly being into a discriminative world. On reflection of the creation of the daemon, Frankenstein says: “I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! ” When confronted by his reflection, the creature says:
“I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers – their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! … Alas, I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this deformity. ” The fact that individuals are alienated by their looks is timeless. Discrimination is apparent in all time periods. This element in the novel of the creature’s isolation is unchanging and significant to all who read it. By incorporating this narrative, Shelley is successfully portraying the ageless theme of alienation, and touching upon the discrimination always found in the world.
I believe that this strong sense of loss exemplified in the creature portrays Mary Shelley’s own losses throughout her life. Growing up motherless, at the age of sixteen she ran away to live with the twenty-one year old Percy Shelley, the unhappily married heir to a wealthy baronetcy. She was cast out of society, even by her father. Shelley also lost her sister to suicide, as well as losing three of her own children to miscarriage and early childhood deaths. In 1822 her husband drowned in the Gulf of Spezzia, and she was left, twenty-five years old, with only one remaining son.
She remained unmarried and died in London in 1851. The creature is also a victim of alienation due to social class. This is also a common problem today; however his is much worse, as he has no place in society whatsoever: “Was I then, a monster, a blot upon the earth? ” He is solitary in looks, stature, and endurance. He is stronger than man, and more agile: “When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. ” This is utterly devastating to the daemon, who longs for companionship. Yet another of today’s causes of alienation is a difference in learning abilities.
The family in the cottage teach him civilisation – what his father should have taught him – he masters the “science of words” alone, by watching, listening and learning – the things a new born child does for a long time before he eventually speaks. The creature’s development is very rapid, yet he is cut off from society whilst learning this difficult task: “I easily perceived that, although I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master of their language. ”
He realises that he must be able to communicate with the family fluently for him to have a chance of describing his feelings, and this urges him to push on with his learning. I agree that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is indeed a study of alienation; the concept is reflected in all characters and with all problems described in the book. I think the gothic typicality in the novel made her aim acceptable at the time: it fitted in with the literary requirements. The gothic descriptions also compliment the real fear of alienation – it makes Shelley’s point more terrifyingly real.
I think Frankenstein is a very moralistic novel. Shelley has made her point very clear and we must be more aware that no matter how scientifically advanced society gets, there will always be those who are left behind and alienated from the rest because of the ignorance of others; whether because of social class, religion, behaviour, learning abilities or looks – some things will never change.