A summary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
“Frankenstein” is a science fiction novel written by Mary Shelley. It revolves around a young boy named Victor Frankenstein who had an obsession with death and through this obsession he was able to create life from nothing. After creating life he is however terrified and disgusted of how it looks and he decides to abandon it without giving it a name as its physical appearance is scary and nothing at all as he expected.
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He therefore tries to live a normal life and makes an effort to forget his own creation. Due to the abandonment the monster is left perplexed, annoyed and frightened. After his tiring work of creating human life, Victor falls ill and it takes four months for his youth friend to nurse him back to health. The monster then travels to Geneva and meets a little boy called William in the woods, where he hopes that the young boy who is not yet corrupted by the views of older people and the world will accept him as he is.
The monster is however wrong and when the Frankenstein sees it; he hurls invectives infuriating the monster. The monster however tries its best to talk to the boy but falls on deaf ears, the monster then covers the boy mouth to keep him quiet but this ends in the boy suffocating. Frankenstein receives a letter from his father stating that his younger brother is dead and that he was murdered. Despite the fact that this act was not intended, the monster took this as the first act of revenge towards his creator.
He places a necklace the boy was wearing on a sleeping girl, the nanny to the boy. Justine the boys nanny was tried and found guilty fro the murder and executed. When Frankenstein arrives he saw the creature in the woods and knew that the monster had killed his brother and placed his mother’s locket on the sleeping nanny.
Frankenstein, troubled and heavily burdened by anguish and self reproach for creating the monster that caused so much devastation, he flees to the mountains to find peace. After a while alone, the monster approaches Frankenstein, who tries to kill it. But the monster being physically bigger, stronger and more alert than his creator gets away and gives Frankenstein some time to cool off and compose himself.
The monster tells Frankenstein of its encounters with humans and how terrified it was of them. He spend a year observing a family from a cabin he was living in, this gave him more knowledge and self conscience concluding that his physical appearance was very different from the humans he was observing.
On revealing himself however, the humans rejected him and were horror struck by his appearance and reacted ferociously, a reaction that made the monster angrier and he seeks vengeance on his creator.
The monster demanded that Frankenstein create a female companion for him as it had the right to be happy. The monster promises that they will vanish into the wilderness and not bother any more about humans. Frankenstein however does not create a companion for the monster and destroys all the work he was doing.
The monster witnesses Frankenstein destroying his creation and vows to revenge on it. The monster murders Clerval and implicates Frankenstein. Frankenstein is acquitted and he returns home to marry his cousin Elizabeth, who is murdered on their wedding night by the monster as part of the monsters revenge.
Frankenstein father dies after this tragedy as he could not handle the tremendous loss of William, Justine, Clerval, and Elizabeth. Frankenstein vows to go after the monster and destroy it. They chase each other for several months and they end up in the North Pole where Frankenstein dies form illness and the monster mourns for Frankenstein justifying its revenge and expressing remorse. Afterwards, the monster travels further towards the pole to destroy itself so that nobody never finds out of it existence.
Comparing Shelley’s portrayal of the natural sciences in “Frankenstein” to her portrayal of other types of knowledge in that novel
According to Shelley, Frankenstein believed more in science than he did in humanity. His obsession with death from the time he was a young boy made him believe that he could eliminate death through science. This passion led him to pursue chemistry which became almost his sole purpose in life to use chemistry to create life and eliminate death. In the university, Frankenstein attempts to create life from nothing and he surprisingly manages to do so.
The only thing is his creation turns out not differently than he expected, the creature if gigantic and it horrifies him to look at. He sees it as an eyesore, a disgrace and the creature escape into the society leaving it at the mercy of humanity. The point at which the creature escapes brings in the humanity aspect in the novel (55-56).
However, after escaping into the society the creature is met with human hostility and feels rejected. The rejection forces the creature to vow revenge on his creator by killing all his close and loved ones (97). The creature carries out its vengeance on Frankenstein by killing his brother William, his friend Clerval and his wife Elizabeth (116).
The creature also mourns for Frankenstein after his death showing that it has a sensitive human side and then it goes of to kill itself as it terms and takes responsibility for causing the death of its creator. This shows that science and humanity came together in the creation and shaping of the creature. Science was used to bring the creature to life while humanity was used to shape how the creature interacted with people and how it handled its feelings and emotions. (173)
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In Shelley’s view, science and humanities are separated by how they are carried out and how one comes into contact with them. Humanities take root when the creature observes a family from the woods learning to speak and also develop emotionally. If the creature had not observed the family then nurturing of the creature may have not taken place.
Science is preserved and maintained in the laboratory to make life from scratch while the humanities come into play as soon as the creature comes to life. Humanities take centre stage when the creature is first of all rejected by its creator and all other people follow suit.
This makes the creature feel as if he is not good enough and that it is its destiny to be alone without any companionship for eternity. This humanity in the creature forces it to go back to his creator to demand that he creates a companion but this turns out badly as Frankenstein does not go through with it (114). Humanity in this novel is also seen when Frankenstein experiences death of his loved ones that eventually pushed him to the scientific notion of creating life.
Frankenstein’s mother’s death and his father’s professor rebuking him fro reading trash which was in essence lightning that had destroyed a tree, pushed him to learn more about science becoming obsessed with it. If these events had not taken place maybe the creation of the creature would not have taken place leaving a very different story in its place.
In reference to Shelley, sciences have an effect on the people who study them. This is simply because the book shows us how one person’s irresponsibility and ambition can harm other people who are not directly involved on eh science project. Science made Victor Frankenstein create a monster and on realizing that the creature did not turn out to be how he expected, he abandoned and rejected it (73).
This rejection made the creature go on a rampage and kill innocent people related to the creator. The innocent people did not have to die but they lost their lives because of one Victor Frankenstein’s obsession and ambition to create life. Life is scared and surely to attempt to create it from dead body parts of other human beings is most likely than not expected to bring havoc and misery on unsuspecting individuals.
The main point in this book is every person should take responsibility of their actions and not expect other people to pay for their shortcomings. Science is something that every person who practices it should be aware that there is a probability of an experiment going wrong and therefore amply and adequately prepare for the outcomes of the experiment whether good or bad.
Humanities on the other hand are portrayed as how one builds his own personal character among the people around him and the people he encounters. In this novel, humanity is depicted in the loss of loved ones that makes Victor Frankenstein to be obsessed with death and try to find a cure for it.
Humanity is also seen whereby Frankenstein is anguished by the death of his brother, friend, Justine and Elizabeth that he vows to kill or be killed by the monster (Shelley 86). This shows that however much Victor was obsessed with science he also had strong feelings for the people around him and it tore him apart when the creature he created killed them.
Humanity in the creature is shown when he feels dejected by his creator and very other human who sets eyes on him and when he observes a family from a distance learns how to speak and develops emotionally.
The fact that everyone showed a hostile human side to the creature made the creature vulnerable and it went on a rampage killing innocent people (Shelley 208). In this novel the creature displays humanity when he demands for a companion to be created so as he can have someone to share his life with and also when he mourns over the death of his creator and implicates himself as the cause of the death of his creator.
In her novel Shelley portrays the knowledge of humanity more as compared to the knowledge of science. This is seen when she portrays that young Victor Frankenstein got an interest in science after experiencing the trauma of losing his mother. This loss made Frankenstein obsessed with death and he tried to find a cure for death.
Through his quest and ambition to cure death he created the Frankenstein monster from dead decomposing body parts of other human beings that were sewn together and brought to life with the help of science (Shelley 73). Humanities is shown as more valuable and ethical as it forms the basis of how one will be portrayed by the society and how one will react to different things and people in society.
Humanity is portrayed as better than science in this novel as it shows different relationships between different people and how actions of one person adversely affect other people. For example, the decision by Victor Frankenstein to create life from dead body parts that brought for the creature termed as a monster brings serious effects and consequences to his family members not to mention the monster itself.
Humanity allowed the creature to develop emotionally and learn how to speak trough observation and experience kindness from a blind man and while saving a young girl form drowning, however in both instances the creature was reprimanded and driven off as people were not welcoming enough. Science only creates that creature but it is humanity that the creature has to deal with and understand why humans are so hostile towards him.
Similarities between science and humanities in this novel are brought out in that both concepts are interdependent and both of these concepts aim to bring improvements to the society as a whole and reduce human misery. The fact that humanity pushed Frankenstein to look for scientific ways to eliminate death from the society after his other loved ones died shows that these two concepts are correlated and work hand in hand with each other to make the society a better place to live in.
The differences on the other hand are that ethics or the pillars of humanities while blind innovation and creativity is the pillar of science. This is to say that scientists do not take into consideration the effects and consequences of their experiments that at times may have a negative effect in humanity.
This is seen when Frankenstein’s ambition makes him create a monster that is much bigger than the human race that caused havoc and misery among human kind. Humanity is seen when Frankenstein is haunted by his conscience after the monster goes on a rampage killing his loved ones. This shows that humanity has consequences and that people should take intro consideration the feelings of other people before they make decisions.
In conclusion, “Frankenstein” tells of a young boy named Frankenstein who attempted to create life, though he succeeded the experiment turned out to be scary and wrecked havoc.
The novel shows as much as science is innovative and interrelated with humanity, ethical issues should also be taken into consideration for most so that innocent people do not suffer. One man’s decision caused the death of three individuals this is not justified. If Victor Frankenstein had thought of the ethical issues of his creation a lot of suffering, misery and death would have been avoided.
Shelley, Marry. Frankenstein. New York: Norton, 1996. Print.