Frankenstein has had a lasting impression on audiences since its publication in 1818. This continuing popularity is for many reasons. On the simplest level, Frankenstein is a novel that shows audiences there is a way to defy death, but on a deeper level it reveals many things about human nature and emotion. This is why I feel the novel has persevered through so many years and still enjoys wide popularity. Beginning on the simplest level, Frankenstein is a novel about how to defy death. Human kind has been fascinated with this notion since the beginning of time.
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One only has to look at the ancient Egyptians and their belief of the afterlife, along with many other cultures and their beliefs of a life after death to see that overcoming death has fascinated people for centuries. This fascination can be looked at on several levels. First of all, death is frightening. It is something that is not understood completely by humans. Humans are scared of what they do not understand. This is portrayed in Frankenstein when the creature is shunned by society simply because he looked different from them and they did not understand him.
People are scared of what they do not understand, which is why they were frightened by Victors creature. The desire to understand death leads to the desire to control it. Even though death is something that is out of the control of humans, human nature has the urge to be in control of everything. The novel Frankenstein fascinates people because death has been overcome, at least that is how it appears in the beginning. Even Victor himself is fascinated with death. In Volume 1 of the novel, Victor talks of his fascination with the human form and its decay after death.
I saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain” (931). Being able to create life from something that is non-living is just like cheating death. You have control over it, which is what humans want in the first place. It is for all these reasons that Frankenstein has enjoyed continuing popularity throughout the years. Immortality has long been a goal of many humans and stories of it have intrigued people for ages.
Stories of the so-called “fountain of youth” and others like it are examples of the human obsession with the notion of immortality. Frankenstein is another one of these stories. The idea that life can be created from something lifeless is an intriguing notion to a race that has long been fascinated with the idea that life could be eternal. This intriguing concept lies only at the surface of the novel, and is only one reason why this novel has enjoyed continuing success. On a deeper level, Frankenstein reveals many things about humanity.
In explaining this, one must first make a decision on whether or not the creature that Frankenstein created is human. I will say that it is. The creature has the same feelings that all other humans do: love, sadness, anger, hatred, and so on. When talking of the family that the creature lived beside in the woods he says: “when they were unhappy, I felt depressed; when they rejoiced, I sympathized in their joys” (968). Just because the creature is able to distinguish between these emotions and have feelings for other forms of life is enough to say that he is human.
The only thing that really distinguishes him from other human beings is the way he looks and the way he was brought into the world. I do not think that either of these defines a person…… Just because a baby is born by cesarean section or a person has a deformity that makes them look different from other people does not mean that they are not human, they are just different. Now that the conclusion has been made that Victors creature is indeed human, we can focus on what he shows us about human emotion. This story shows us what can happen to the human nature when it is deprived of all forms of communication and love from others.
Shelley is trying to show us that this creature had the ability to be a kind and decent being, but because it is denied the basic human needs of communication and love from others, it resorts to evil doings. One must remember that this creature was abandoned and everything it knows about life and values is completely self-taught. One could say that the creature knows no other way to express these emotions than to resort to these doings because no one has taught him right from wrong or how to deal with the emotions that he is feeling.
The issues of abandonment in the novel offer insight into human emotions. Victors creature feels abandoned by his creator and does not know how to deal with these feelings. He does not even know why he was created in the first place. After the cottagers that he has grown to love shun him, he curses his creator and questions his existence: “Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? ” (982) These feelings that accompany the abandonment offer great insight into the emotions that humans feel when abandoned by the people that are supposed to love them most.
Often adopted children feel this same hatred toward parents and question why they were brought into the world at all. Considering these feelings of abandonment and his banishment from society, one can begin to understand why he chose to act the way he did. One may even begin to wonder if he felt he had any choice at all. All the emotions that the creature feels and the actions that he takes seem similar to the feelings that humans encounter when they are put in the same situation, and the actions that we may consider but because we have been taught values and morals we do not carry out.
One must remember that the creature has not been taught these morals and values. So Shelleys novel shows us what humanity could be like if we were not taught right from wrong and had to cope with the kind of emotions that the creature has to cope with without any help from anyone around us. The novel reveals many things about humanity that are not often discussed or thought about by humans. It offers insight into the mind of a very humanlike creature and the emotions and decisions he makes based solely on the experiences that he has had and what he feels is right.
Frankenstein is an “account of the monstrous potential of human creative power when severed from moral and social concerns has made it a modern myth that recurs persistently” (906). In conclusion, Shelleys novel has experienced such continued success for several reasons. In one aspect, it is a simple novel about defying death and achieving what many have been fascinated with for centuries: immortality.
One the other hand, it is a deeply emotional story about a tragic creature that is forced to live in a society that shuns him. It offers us insight into his emotions and enables us to see a side of humanity that we do not normally have the opportunity to see. Because Frankenstein has appeal on such different levels, the simple notion of death and the much deeper notion of the power of humanity to affect human emotions and reactions, it has become a renowned novel that has been and will continue to be read for ages.