Loneliness is an unpleasant emotional response to isolation that involves anxiety due to lack of connection and communication with other beings. Throughout the duration of the novel the Frankenstein, Mary Shelley uses the main characters Robert, Victor Frankenstein and his monster creation to introduce and emphasize the theme of loneliness. The theme of loneliness and solitude in Shelleys novel originated from her personal life. She had problems with her husband and father, which she carries on into the novel enhancing its pragmatism. In this novel, both Victor Frankenstein and the creature he created suffer from physical and emotional isolation feelings of which culminate in their self-destruction. This paper discusses the emotional and physical isolation that Victor Frankenstein and his monster creature went through as conveyed in the novel The Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
From the start of the novel Victor Frankenstein chooses a life of isolation while his monster creation suffers from rejection and isolation. The conditions of desired and undesired loneliness and that both Victor Frankenstein and his creation find themselves in induces very different response from these two characters. When Frankenstein is overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions he seeks refuge in an isolated boat as it is stated in the novel when he says At these moments I took refuge in the most perfect solitude.But the fresh air and bright sun failed to restore me to some degree of composure. Victor Frankensteins desire for solitude and isolation alienates him from his family and friends in the society as evidenced in his narration i shunned the face of man: all sound of joy or complacency was torture to me: solitude was my only consolation-deep, dark, death-like solitude the way Frankenstein describes solitude indicates to the reader the nature of hard experiences he was going through and his perception of isolation and loneliness as a safe place to hide from his sorrows.
Frankenstein isolates himself in order to study the secrets of nature and while in isolation develops a strong desire for ideas and understanding the science of creating life as evidenced when he says One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention was the structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal endued with life (Shelly, 46) The desire and pursuit of these ideas further isolates Victor from his family. While at the university of Ingolstadt, Frankenstein gets so caught up in his experiments that he forgets about his family who loved and supported him as a child. This indicates to the reader a lack of the ability to maintain a balance between intellectual and social relations. Frankenstein is so used to being alone that he even abandons his own creation and his family.
Victor Frankensteins family enjoyed good relations and his father and sister expressed great desire to have good relations with him. Despite his familys effort to maintain good relations with him, Victor is unconcerned and makes no effort to have any good relations with the, he immerses himself in science to eliminate negative thoughts and avoid loneliness but all this does not bring him the moral satisfaction he is seeking. Victor is so emotionally distanced from the rest of the world that even his own creation the monster cannot find his feelings. The Monster says I remembered Adams supplication to his creator. But where was mine? (Shelley, 111) Shelley uses such statements to show the sad irony in that the monster had human feelings of loneliness and solitude unlike its creator.
The monster, Frankensteins creation is isolated and undesired by humans because of its physical appearance. Despite its love, benevolence and desire to interact with men, the monster experiences misery and unwanted solitude as evidenced in its conversation with its creator Frankenstein. The monster says I am alone and miserable man will not associate with me. The creature further says Believe me Frankenstein: I was benevolent my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? The use of past tense and the words my soul glowed with love and humanity by the monster as it converse with Frankenstein indicates to the reader that the monster was once tender hearted and humane but it has been changed by these feelings of loneliness and rejection by humans. Even when the monster saves a little girl who had fallen in the river, the man who had accompanied her assumes that the monster had hurt the girl and goes further to shoot the monster. One may suggest that the monster no longer harbors the same feelings of love and compassion towards humans as before. The Monster suffered from isolation from the day of its conception as Mary Shelley describes the monsters feeling of abandonment after its conception. Shelley states It was dark when I awoke I felt cold also, and half-frightened as it were instinctively, finding myself so desolate. This indicates that from the beginning of its life, Frankensteins creation felt alone and isolated.
The monster is aggrieved by the rejection it suffers from humans due to the grotesque nature of its physical features but what worsens its loneliness and feelings of emotional and physical abandonment is the rejection by its creator. Shelley demonstrates the monsters need for love, affection and a sense of belonging as witnessed when the monster expresses is anger towards De Lacey family for rejecting it. The creature states The more I saw of them, the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness my heart yearns to be known and loved by these amiable creatures to see their sweet looks directed towards me with affection, was the utmost limit of my ambition. The creature has great admiration for humans it describes them as friendly creatures but ironically the monster is lonely in a sea of friendly creatures. The rejection of the monster by the De Lacey family fueled its emotional collapse and anger towards the De Lacey and its creator Victor Frankenstein. After being chased away from the De Lacey family on the arrival of Felix, Agatha and Safi, the monster is enraged and returns to the De Lacey and burns down the empty cottage. (Shelley, 98)
Mary Shelley uses the rejection of the monster by the De Lacey family as a catalyst to further the theme of loneliness in her novel by creating an emotional turning point in the life of the monster that precipitates feelings of anger, hurt and vengeance. The rejection of the monster by the De Lacey family is a turning point in its life of loneliness.in this moment of anger and despair the monster reflects on its loneliness and decides to seek revenge against its creator for creating and abandoning it.This is evidenced as the creature states Satan and his companions (Shelley, 88), I was alone. I remembered Adams supplication to his creator but where was mine? He had abandoned me, and in bitterness of my heart, I cursed him (Shelley, 111) and I am an outcast in the world forever (Shelley, 90).From the words of the monster, its bitterness can be felt. Loneliness was tearing it apart and this culminated in the monster turning violence. The monster begins its revenge against its creator Frankensteins by killing his younger brother named William. It is evident from the monsters description of William that the loneliness was destructive to the creatures emotional being. The creature states I too can create desolation (Shelley, 97).The monster gives a detailed description of its horrendous killing of William by stating I gaze on my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph: clapping my hands, I exclaimed, I too can create desolation my enemy is not impregnable this death will carry misery to him, and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him. (Shelley, 97). It is evident that loneliness and abandonment had turned the monster into violence ways. The turning point in the monsters life is the point it starts perceiving its creator as the ultimate enemy.
Mary Shelley uses Frankenstein and the Monster to demonstrate how people perceive each other and how these perceptions can precipitate evil. People perceive and associate beauty with good and ugliness with evil. The monster was subjected to all manner of cruelty by the humans because of his hideous looks and because of their judgment they never got to know the true nature of the monster. As results of this cruelty projected towards the monster that is initially good, he gradually deteriorates emotionally into the evil monster that the society saw him for.
Shelley, Wollstonecraft. "Mary.Frankenstein Or, the Modern Prometheus.." (2013).
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
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