Essay on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Social Psychology and the Search for Knowledge

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1717 Words
Date:  2023-01-11


Mary Shelley bases her novel on social psychology since her conversations and knowledge are employed on scientist and his creation. The story portrays the intense desires and emotions through the main characters, where victor symbolized the dominant society she was living and the creator implies the inner desires. Psychology in the novel was considered as science by various theologians, educated people and philosophers since it preserved religion and modern world scientist. Mary Shelley explores the social psychological context through the curiosity, for instance, her creator is the product of imagination which is vital for many scientific creations although not everything that can be imagined may be constructed through technology and science. Also, Shelley creates the id, superego and ego where she mentions the feelings of the creature, Victor and Robert. The creator has alienated from the society a situation which makes Shelley suffer due to loneliness and alienation. However, the essay will show how Shelley begins a novel with those characters and the idea of her thoughts towards the text and in connection to social psychology.

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Social Cognition and Social Reinforcement in Frankenstein

Mary Shelley relates social cognition with the behaviours of the people through studying their mental processes like thoughts, feelings and motives and how they shape social interactions with other individuals. For example, the psychoanalytic by Freudian psychology shows that social bonds can be understood through individual cognitive emotions, which affects the relationships among individuals. Social reinforcement is portrayed through the letter correspondence where the reader is required to reconcile between isolation, sociability, truth and ambiguity (Shelley 12). The ego, as seen in the novel, may affect individual feelings, and thoughts and eventually involve in sinful acts. For instance, the Elizabeth death shows aggression behaviour which can be internalized or introjected due to the ego for example, when creator killed individuals who were close to Victor, he also kills William to prove himself towards his creator.

Self-Representation and the Ego in Shelley's Novel

Shelley portrays the theme of self-representation in social psychology where the novel explores self-awareness, knowledge, perception and esteem. The self-representation enables some of the readers to modify and change aspects of themselves to attain self-acceptance in society. It allows the characters to understand themselves, preferences and abilities. For instance, when comparing the Shelley novel with Sigmund Freud's psychological theories, the ego is seen through the decisions and thoughts that are made without the conscience, which affects the individual self-representation. In case of the Frankenstein's Monster, where he satisfies his id through teaching himself the primary means of human action and living where he obtains necessities but fails to contribute towards ultimate consciousness (Shelley 255). Mostly, the id is linked with inhuman desire as reflected Frankenstein's monster who exposes the primitive and cruel image.

Love and Sacrifice in Frankenstein: A Social Psychological Perspective

Love is the feeling of affection towards, a person, country or thing, and it is enhanced through passion, intimacy and commitment. People who love each other they show emotional support, closeness, caring like mother love to a child or man to a woman (Bagozzi and Richard 392). However, Individuals can sacrifice everything or themselves because of love. In the novel, love is manifested, where monster encounters the first love after meeting the family in the cottage. The monster was filled with sympathy and joy since he desired to portray kindness and protection to the family. Shelley discovers that she lacked fatherly and motherly love and decide to love Percy regardless of being married. She decides to go contrary to the social rules since she had the desire for love and freedom. However, the decisions make her suffer psychological since she is engaged with a married husband and at the same time out of love, Harriet suffers due to the collapse of marriage. Percy is the only happy person, which shows that in family, men are contented, unlike women. Therefore according to social psychology, love can make some people suffer through the sacrifice towards a person or country or thing. For example, people may suffer due to relationship break up and develop psychological issues like stress or depression or even commit suicide, especially when a spouse leaves one another.

The Significance of Friendship in Shelley's Frankenstein

Besides, Shelley novel portrays the act of friendship where people who are close to each other build their familiarity. The individual closeness help to protect physical and mental health, especially during difficulties (Argyle, Michael, and Maryanne Martin 80). Friendship is shown in the novel where Shelley writes the letter to Mrs Saville to inform on the safe environment and welfare since no disaster had accompanied her when she commenced the enterprise. Also, the friendship Shelley has towards mothers makes her emphasize the need for caring them during childbirth, pregnancy and conception because many died due to lack of care. For instance, Frankenstein's mothers have short life span where Victors' mother died due to scarlet fever as well as monster killed his wife in a honeymoon. The housekeep of Frankensteins also dies due to murder convicted by Victor's brother. Through these incidences, Shelley brought the need for caring mothers because of friendship towards them. Besides, the Walton writes a farewell to the Margret wishing her blessings due to kindness and care she showed him during his departure to Russia (Shelley 6).

Aggression and Prejudice in Frankenstein: Impacts on Society

Aggression may be associated with the incidences of violent behaviour towards other individuals. Basing on social psychology, people may become aggressive due to family history, environmental factors, and substance abuse. People may become violet due to the ego as they may desire to prove their superiority thus result in injury or death of other persons. Shelley tries to relate the aggression to the characters in the novel to show the impacts it brings to society. For instance, isolation may lead to violent behaviour like from the Shelley story, loneliness results to murder where creator narrators to Victor that due to the isolation he had ton involve in evil since he killed Victor's loved ones (Shelley 259). Also, Shelley novel attempts to show the prejudice against other individuals as it related with society. Bias makes a person to develop a negative attitude towards others due to sex, gender, beliefs or political affiliation (Brewer and Marilynn 432). For instance, Shelley demonstrates the cruelty of men since they view women as a dependent creature. For example, Victor's mother presents Elizabeth as a promised a gift to him, which shows that women depend on men for protection and other necessities as a scenario which indicates gender prejudice. However, Shelley wanted to show that women also needed freedom and rights just like men

Gender Disparities and Discrimination in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

The discrimination, according to social psychology, is a perception where individuals may be denied equal freedom or resources due to gender, social class, religion, race or disability. Gender disparity is a problem happening even in the society today where women are denied voice in employment, marriage, power and culture, thus resulting in low self-esteem, intimidation, stress or trauma. From the novel, Shelley tries to show the difference between women and men through the relationship between Elizabeth and Victor. Victor's creator is accountable for the death of all motherhood and mothers. Hence women are termed as victims in society, thus gender disparities. Also, women are denied political, economic and social justice freedom, for instance, they are discriminated from medical knowledge and care like the way Mary Wollstonecraft died due to the puerperal position during the birth of daughter hence women are viewed as the weak character (Shelley 226).


Finally, group behaviour in social psychology implies the desire to conform to norms and beliefs of the team and may eventually lead to a change of the practice (Fiske and Susan 18). According to the novel, the group can shape the other individual's actions. For instance, Walton reveals how people require each other to succeed in life (Shelley 262). Also, Shelley shows how feelings and thoughts changed the behaviour and almost to commit murder as she was miserable and alone because no man wanted to associate with her. About Frankenstein monster, Victor feels guilt after noticing his creation is the one responsible for the death of his father, wife, friend and mother. Therefore, Shelley novel manifests the themes of social cognition, self-representation, friendship, love, aggression, discrimination and group behaviour in connection to social psychology.

Works Cited

Argyle, Michael, and Maryanne Martin. "The psychological causes of happiness." Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective (2012): 77-100.

Bagozzi, Richard P. "On the concept of intentional social action in consumer behaviour." Journal of Consumer research27.3 (2011): 388-396.

Brewer, Marilynn B. "The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love and outgroup hate?." Journal of social issues 55.3 (2016): 429-444.

Fiske, Susan T. Social beings: Core motives in social psychology. John Wiley & Sons Incorporated, (2018): 10-21

Shelley, M.W. "Frankenstein Book." A New Companion to The Gothic, Malden, MA & Oxford, CRC Press. The 1818 Text. Penguin, (2018): 2-277.

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