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The Worldview of Frankenstein and the Philosophy of Romanticism

The Worldview of Frankenstein and the Philosophy of Romanticism

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Published by Jumi23
A research paper that I wrote for English Composition I. Discusses how the worldview presented in Frankenstein is aligned with some of the fundamental aspects of Romanticism.
A research paper that I wrote for English Composition I. Discusses how the worldview presented in Frankenstein is aligned with some of the fundamental aspects of Romanticism.

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Published by: Jumi23 on Aug 10, 2014
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Hutchins 1
Margaret Hutchins Composition I Research Paper 2 August 2014 The Worldview of
Frankenstein
 and the Philosophy of Romanticism What is the message of a book? Although well-crafted stories are open to many interpretations, one of the fundamental messages of a work of literature is its worldview.
To discern a work’s worldview involves examining the perspective that it projects on th
e
existing or ideal state of one’s relationships with God, self, and other people.
This paper
analyzes the worldview presented in Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein
 (1818) in an effort to show that it is aligned with the major tendencies of Romanticism, a worldview that was prevalent at the time the book was written. One of the defining attitudes of Romanticism is rebellion
 –
 in fact, that one word could be used to sum up the whole movement. (Durant 905) It is no wonder, then, that the Romantics took a somewhat antagonistic view to God as creator. (Cantor 127-8)
Frankenstein
 radiates the same tone right from the title page with a quote from Milton: Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me man? Did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me?
 
Hutchins 2
The book goes on to paint an unattractive picture of Frankenstein as an irresponsible and unjust creator (e.g., Shelley 1.4.2, 2.7.4-5) who is concerned with his own interests: Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through....  A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. (1.3.6) to the exclusion of the needs of his creature and his family:  And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused
me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent….I knew my silence disquieted them….but I could not tear my thoughts from my employment.
(1.3.7) The creat
ure’s later rebuke to Frankenstein:
 Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned
from me in disgust?....I remembered Adam’s supplication to his Creator; but where was mine? he had abandoned me…. (2.7.4
-5) provides a justification for his rebellious and defiant attitude: Yet mine shall not be the submission of abject slavery. I will revenge my
injuries….I will work at your destruction…. (2.9.2)
 It is interesting to note that most Romantics did not favor the wholesale rejection of
religion, but rather a greater freedom in formulating one’s religious views. (Russell 703)
Similarly, in
Frankenstein
, rebellion is portrayed as an aggravation to the creature’s
 
Hutchins 3
problems (Cantor 106), and Shelley may have been suggesting that the only solution is
to find one’s own happiness through autonomy from the creator’s standards. (Cantor
131) The romantic outlook did not just have a view on self; the self is the focal point of
the whole philosophy. (Russell 705) Romanticism’s revolt against tradit
ional religion, mores and societal norms; its pursuit of solitude; its glorification of nature and the natural state; its elevation of individual creativity
 –
 all of these come down to a quest for
the free expression of one’s self, unhindered by restraint
of any kind. Solitude, especially solitude in nature, is a readily apparent theme in
Frankenstein
. The lonely
 Arctic explorer in the beginning of the story, Frankenstein’s isolated childhood, his
seclusion as he completes his research and creation, the cre
ature’s solitary existence, the destruction of Frankenstein’s friends and family, the feelings of utter separation
experienced by both Frankenstein and his creature, and the remote settings of the story (the Arctic Circle, the Swiss Alps, the Orkney Islands) all reinforce the theme of solitude. Interestingly enough, the story portrays both good and bad consequences of solitude.
On the one hand, Frankenstein’s immersion of himself in research to the exclusion of all
else allows him to make unprecedented breakthroughs. In the midst of the horrific events that follow, his only relief is to be alone in nature: These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that
I was capable of receiving….they diverted my mind from the thoughts over w
hich it had brooded for the last month. (Shelley 2.2.1) The creature also finds peace when alone in nature:

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