In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley explores a wide range of themes concerning human nature through the thoughts and actions of two main characters and a host of others. Two themes are at the heart of the story, the most important being creation, but emphasis is also placed on alienation from society. These two themes are relevant even in todays society as technology brings us ever closer to Frankensteins fictional achievement. First, lets examine the alienation from society suffered by Frankensteins monster. The cause of his ostracism was his horrific physical appearance.
It was so bad that people would not even allow him the chance to speak or get to know the person behind the hideous face. Shelley is criticizing the importance appearance plays in defining our roles as members of society. The monster knows all too well how people will receive him and so tries to appeal to a blind man, the only type of person who could be dependent on him. Sadly for the wretch, the blind man had others on whom he could depend as well, and upon seeing him caused a stir. His one chance at gaining acceptance thus ruined.
This causes his anti-social behavior, a problem we deal with presently. Alienation from society causes violent lashings out at the world that rejected him. We have seen this recently with the school shooting at Columbine. The two boys responsible for the bloodshed claimed that their motive was the daily ostracism they had to endure from other students. So too was this the torturous daily routine for the Shelleys monster. And when Frankenstein rejected him, he sought to make Victor an empathizer by killing those whom he loved.
Perhaps less than revenge, the monster only wanted someone to know what it is like to be alone and denied love. This brings us the theme of creation, which really contains smaller sub-themes. There is the relationship between the creator and his creation as well as the question of whether or not the created owes his allegiance to society. What should the relationship between Victor and the monster have been? In Shelleys criticism of all who were disgusted by his looks, Victor would be in the wrong for having shunned the monster.
It was his fault the monster existed, so he should have taken it in and shown it compassion. As the creator, he owes his creation the basic means to a happy life. As for the monster, in turn for his creators gift of life and happiness, he would pledge loyalty. But because Frankenstein dropped his end of the contract from the start, all bets were off and the monster tried to be as diplomatic as possible about the whole affair. This goes back to the alienation theme starting with Victors abandoning of the monster. What about the monsters role in society?
As a mans creation, did the monster owe any debt to society or have a right to be part of it? He did not choose to be born into it, but he was forced to seek refuge in the world upon being abandoned. He knew that they would never accept him and would have never needed their acceptance if Victor had accepted him. Once his creator turned his back, the monster had no hope of ever gaining acceptance with anyone. This brings to mind the current issue of cloning humans. Once we unleash rational, independent-thinking people into society, will they be outcasts because of their origin or appearance?
If they will be unhappy, isnt it a bigger favor to not bring them into a world that will ostracize them? Victor Frankenstein thought all the time about unleashing terror on society but he never thought of the torment he had given his creation by bringing it into the world, let alone neglecting it. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley acknowledges that when men play God, they can open a Pandoras box of problems to the world. Just because one can do something doesnt mean one should do it. Victor never took responsibility for his creation and things got out of control ruining his life.