Frankenstein Since Its Publication in the 1800 Research Paper

Pages: 6 (2120 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature


Since its publication in the 1800's, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, has become a reflection of modern life as we know it. Where, it will discuss a number of different themes and motifs, to instill the feeling as well as emotions that the author would go through in her personal life. A good example of this can be found in the relationship that her husband (Percy Shelley) would have with James Lind. He was a scientist who would often work on a number of different experiments. His relations with Percy Shelley would serve as a catalyst for the novel. As her husband would discuss various experiments that Lind was engaging in (with the author). The most notable was taking dead frogs and watching their bodies move when electricity was sent through them. At the time, this seemed similar to someone creating life, as the electricity would make their body engage in what appeared to be voluntary movement. (Ectric) This is important, because it highlights how various issues in the life of Mary Shelley, would impact her views on modern day society. Where, they are incorporated in a number of different themes throughout the novel. To fully understand these themes requires examining them with various passages in the text. At which point, an analysis will be conducted, to determine Shelley's underlying meaning. Once this takes place, it will provide the greatest insights, as to how Frankenstein is an examination of the changes occurring in society.


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Frankenstein was written at a time when tremendous changes were occurring in society and everyday life. This is because the Industrial Revolution and social enlightenment would highlight a number of different issues that were emerging. As they would challenge the status quo and present new ideas that would underscore radical changes. Inside the novel there are a number of different themes that Shelley uses to illustrate these criticisms to include: the dangers of having too much knowledge, concealment, feminism and Marxism. ("Themes, Motifs and Symbols")

The Dangers of Having too Much Knowledge

Research Paper on Frankenstein Since Its Publication in the 1800's, Assignment

A major theme that Mary Shelley will continue to discuss throughout the novel is: the dangers of having too much knowledge. This is because society is going through an age of enlightenment. Where, many scientists will often assume that they can be able to understand the mysteries of life from: the various breakthroughs and knowledge that was obtained. Over the course of time, these views can turn into a sense of arrogance, as many people will assume, that what they are doing can be controlled and will not have any kind of negative effects. Once this occurs, it means that these kinds of experiments can go tragically wrong, as a number of unintended consequences can take place. In this aspect, Shelley is using the novel to show, how society creates the atmosphere for this sense of arrogance. Evidence of this can be found with comments made in letters, by both Mary Shelley and her husband, before Frankenstein was published. Where, they said, "Treat a person ill and he will become wicked. (This will) divide him, a social being from society, and you impose upon him the irresistible obligations of male violence and selfishness." (Joshua pp. 61 -- 66) Adding to these views were the ideas of Mary Shelley's husband Percy who wrote, "The creature's crimes are not an offspring of uncomfortable evil, but are instead caused by his social environment." (Joshua pp. 61 -- 66) This is significant, because it shows how the views of society would have impact upon Mary Shelley and her husband. As the technological changes and how society was reacting to them, would have an effect upon their ideas.

In the novel, Shelley illustrates this sense of arrogance through Victor. Where, he is constantly pursing more knowledge, in order to be able to gain a greater understanding of life's mysteries. The problem is: that this quest will ultimately have a number of unintended consequences. A good example of this can be seen in the passage where it says, "I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on. Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice. But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept and gasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing." (Shelley pg. 149) This is significant, because it highlights how the monster (that was created by Victor), would have unintended consequences. Where, he would go on killing spree and eventually turn on his creator. The fact that the monster was questioning, how he was killing innocent people and did not understand why; would highlight the dangers of having too much knowledge. As Victor's quest would unleash a freakish monster upon the town. The fact that Victor did not understand these consequences or the implications that they would have, shows his overall arrogance. As he would refuse to accept the fact, that his quest for understanding (beyond the knowledge of modern day science), would have devastating ripple effects on individuals and the town. In this aspect, one could argue that Shelley is criticizing the various innovations that were taking place at the time. Where, many scientists and intellectuals would discuss how the different breakthroughs would benefit everyone, yet the real winners were select individuals. As this technology would have consequences on the community and everyday life.


A second theme that is constantly discussed throughout Frankenstein is concealment. This takes place with Victor conducting his experiments out of sight. As he wanted to protect his ideas and secrets, while at the same time remaining true to the principles of the research (at least in his mind). This is problematic, because the underlying amounts of secrecy means that Victor, will create his scientific breakthroughs. However, when he discovers the hideousness of his creation, Victor will attempt to hide him away. At which point, the monster will begin to have feelings of rage, as he believes that he is being persecuted and does not understand why. This will cause Frankenstein to want to express his feeling of resentment and confusion, but does not know how to do so. A good example of this can be seen with the passage in the novel that says, "Light, feeling and sense will pass away; and in this condition I must find my happiness. " (Shelley, pg. 149) This is significant, because it shows how Frankenstein just wanted to feel that sense of belonging, yet the overall secrecy surrounding the project and his life would lead to tragic consequences. As he would struggle to understand what was occurring and how he should react to the feelings of isolation / loneliness. In this aspect, the underlying levels of secrecy are a criticism of the scientific community. Where, they are willing to highlight their triumphs to the world and maintain high levels of concealment. The problem with this approach, is that the acceptance of these views can often have unintended negative consequences down the road.


A third theme that is consistently discussed throughout the paper is feminism. This is because Marry Shelly would be the first female author, to create such a ground breaking piece of literature (in a male dominated world). Yet, when you look beyond this fact, Frankenstein is criticism of male dominated society. Where, Shelly will use the meek and accepting female characters to underscore this criticism. As she is highlighting how the status quo expects women to remain in their place, while males are allowed to engage in reckless and stupid decisions. (Joshua pg. 53) A good example of this can be seen with Elizabeth discussing the pressures that Victor was facing, after he realized that he may have made a mistake creating Frankenstein. Where, Elizabeth would comfort him by saying, "There is, I hope, nothing to distress you; and be assured that if a lively joy is not painted on my face, my heart is content. " (Shelley pg. 131) This is significant, because it shows how the various female characters are highlighting a sense of indifference. On the surface, this appears to be an endorsement of the status quo. However, the way that Shelly is illustrating them is through an indirect method. Where, she is having the women step aside, and are allowing the men to pursue what they think are scientific discoveries. Once things turn out badly for them, these women highlight the differences in society, as they are more controlled. As a result, they do not have the problems that are faced by Victor and the other men at the end of the novel.


A fourth theme of Frankenstein is: various Marxist types of views. In this aspect, the novel represents a class struggle that is taking place. Where, Victor grew up in a privileged environment and was able to attend the best schools. This would help to instill a sense of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Frankenstein Since Its Publication in the 1800.  (2010, October 25).  Retrieved February 28, 2020, from

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"Frankenstein Since Its Publication in the 1800."  October 25, 2010.  Accessed February 28, 2020.