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This form of playing with life and death was a very controversial issue in the 19th century, when Frankenstein was written, as it is still controversial now. Creating life unnaturally was a very new idea when Frankenstein was written, so it shows how ahead of its time the novel was. This idea would have been considered to be impossible and rarely discussed. Today on the other hand, cloning and genetic engineering is occurring more often and discussed a whole lot more.
Religion is less strict now, and the idea of playing God doesn’t seem to be so terrible.
Where as at the time this book was written, Christianity was very important to many people. Christian’s believe that God brought Jesus back to life, and in the book Frankenstein tried to do much the same with his creature. Again, this is why Frankenstein was seen to have ‘played God’. Today, cloning is still a controversial issue.
Problems with it include the fact that many mistakes are made before the correct result is achieved. Also cloned animals have often been born with terrible deformities and gaining premature illnesses.
Creating life is the main moral issue in the book, but there is also the problem of people fitting in to society because of their looks. The creature was shunned aside and discriminated against because it was ugly, like many people are today through no fault of their own. This was an issue in the 19th century as much as it is today.
Earlier, there would be ceremonial ‘witch’ burnings and drowning on mere suspicion, and today there are many world issues including racism, prejudice and discrimination. The shallowness of our society is appalling and we just need to learn to accept people for who they are.
Although racial discrimination wasn’t such a problem in the 19th century, it is now, which again shows that Frankenstein as a novel was very ahead of it’s time. Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, shows development of Victor Frankenstein’s character to help us discover whether he was actually regretting his actions. Shelley introduces the reader to Victor Frankenstein near the beginning of the novel, in his home in Geneva. He is portrayed as a happy man who cared strongly for his family and friends.
He had lived a rich life, and belonged to a very well off family who were well respected in the area, he is proud of his heritage and we know this when he says ‘I am by birth Gevenese; and my family is one of the distinguished of the republic’. As he decides to create the monster, he has no idea that there could possibly be anything wrong with what he’s doing. The reader, living in a modern world where cloning is more acceptable, thinks that he should have been more responsible and thought about his action more before he creates the creature.
However, the reader needs to think back to when the book was set and remember that Frankenstein had never experienced any examples of genetic engineering, as it wasn’t something that was done in the 19th century. He truly believed that his creation would love him as it’s creator, and that it would lead to major breakthroughs in the future of science, not realising that the outcome could be more terrible than he could imagine. He was so sure it was meant to be for him to create the monster, ‘destiny was too potent and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction’.
But during the creation process, Frankenstein becomes obsessed with his work. So obsessed infact, that he forgets about his family and doesn’t write to them for two years. This could cause the audience to blame him for the creature’s sins, as what he did to create the monster was such a disgrace. He ignores his family and friends, and cut up dead bodies, ‘I shunned my fellow creatures as if I was guilty of a crime’. Frankenstein shows a certain amount of responsibility further on in the book when he follows the monster to the North Pole. His intention is to kill him, though he has nothing left that the monster could take away from him.
This shows Frankenstein trying to correct his mistakes by killing the monster he should never have created. This is Frankenstein being morally reprehensive. From chapter 11, we hear the creature’s side of the story. He tells Frankenstein of what happened after he left him, and in these chapters, Frankenstein is made to look morally reprehensible. Shelley makes the creature look like the humane character and makes Frankenstein look like the monster. Frankenstein is angry at the creature making him sound bad, and it is now that he realises that he is to blame for his terrible suffering.
He realises that by not making the creature, no suffering would have been caused and therefore he is blaming himself for creating the creature. From chapter 11, Frankenstein shows a huge change of character, portraying him as cruel, cold hearted and not willing to listen or reason. He treats other characters badly, as he ‘shunned his fellow creatures’ as well as swearing at the creature and losing his temper, ‘abhorred monster, ‘wretched devil’ and ‘begone, vile insect’. This is a massive contrast to the happy gentle Frankenstein we met at the beginning of the novel.
The monster, while speaking of the events after Frankenstein left him, uses the most eloquent language to make the reader realise he is not the fiendish monster that Frankenstein made him out to be. Throughout his story, he uses vivid description and strong emotive language to make the reader feel sorry for him, and regret thinking of him as a vile monster. During the time in which the monster speaks, the reader realises that Frankenstein was very biased and that the creature is actually just a well-spoken, thoughtful character that was driven to despair after being shunned by the whole of society.
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