Frankenstein In The Romantic Era Research Paper Samples
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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus belongs to the Gothic genre of literature and is concerned with contemporary expansions in scientific thought, as well as modern exploration and innovation. The novel deliberately eludes much of the cliché of Gothic writing and encloses astonishing events and undue emotion. It certainly stands out from the literature of the times and in many respects, it can be termed a science fiction. The novel, however, possess many characteristics of romanticism as it fits in the Romantic era and the work certainly “initiates a rethinking of romantic rhetoric” (Guyer 77). Frankenstein has unfamiliar plot structure and is written in epistolary form, that has numerous inserted storylines and has no omniscient raconteur to critic the actions of the characters or substantiate the veracity of what they say. The present paper attempts to explore how the philosophies of Romanticism and the emergence of science influence Frankenstein and whether the novel can be called a science fiction.Charles Schug highlights:
Karl Kroeber makes a point in Romantic Narrative Art especially pertinent to our discussion here. He suggests that "Narrative as it appears in [Romantic] lyrics is an element of logical or rational organization; it implies a conception of experience as objective apprehendable: 'If I tell you what occurred you will know what happened to me.' But the experiences which are the sources of the poems' energy are purely subjective and creative; they cannot be told about; we must be made to participate in the poet's vision" (p. 58) (609).
Romanticism brings a radical change in the writings of the times and the poetry and prose of the period apparently express a novel and idealistic rapport with imagination. Mary Shelley attempts to portray an unusual pursuit to accomplish the sublime. Shelley makes the protagonist Victor Frankenstein take the desirable quest by instilling in him the eager to give life to a being out of the raw components in his workshop. Victor shares his excitement:
No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success,” he tells the reader, recalling the heady project in his lab. “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 (Frankenstein 51).
Machinery Starts ruling the scientific views throughout the Renaissance, but it occurred in a fresh form in during the Romantic era. The Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, was enthused by the scientific insurgency of the preceding era in which natural occurrences were explicated in relations comparable to technologies. Even though machinery was resolutely stranded in Christianity, Romantics assumed that the hostile dominating nature makes it liable for man's exodus from the nature and Almighty. When man attempts to defy God and natue, circumstances turn against man. Romantics detested any idea of rising above God and thus trying to control the world that ultimately strangles and threatens man.
Mary Shelley belongs to a circle of Romantic writers and academics who motivated and greatly inclined her writings. The greatest and the serious threat during the epoch was whether man would tame nature and disagree the heavenly spirit of nature and the whole humanity.The narrative of Victor Frankenstein and his conception provided a miniature of the catastrophe Romantics alleged that man could bring upon himself with contrivance.
Victor can be perceived as a romantic character as he echoes the romantic authors’ prominence on an innovative way of perceiving. The romantics share the notion that imagination creates a better comprehension of the societies and the entire world. Victor’s dreamy nature and apprehensions to attain unfeasible things make him a perfect romantic.
The structure of the novel, the design of concentric chronicles, beautifully brings out a magical coherence to the entire plot. The whole novel, enthused many film versions, has been considered as the beginning of the modern science fiction, though it is also an account of the saga of the Noble Savage, in which a nature basically good is despoiled by ill treatment. It is also notable for the depiction of nature, which owes to the Shelley’s esteem for Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Romanticism gives nature ample prominence and in Frankenstein, there is a great affinity to nature. The text is positioned in a specific milieu that reflects and challenges the consciousness of Victor. The pictorial description of the Swiss hill’s charm and the explanation of the winds as “the play of a lively infant” (42) indicate the spirit of romanticism which is contrasted with the dreadly creature that infuses the strange mystical elements in the novel. The characters and the ambience are so aptly blended that the physical potentials of the setting will enflame meditative thoughts for the characters, specifically Victor and the monster. Dussinger points out:
The Frankenstein family is a paradigm of the social contract based on economic terms. Blood kinships are secondary to the indebtedness incurred by promises exchanged for gifts (marriage, social identity, domestic service); though in the real world property is the principal means of organizing the family relationships, in this fantasy world guilt and dependence derive from the intense feeling of moral obligation between parents and children. Having spent his youth as a bachelor in public office, he now becomes surrogate father and husband to the helpless orphan and retires to concentrate entirely on domestic affairs, sheltering Caroline "as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener, from every rougher wind" (p. 33). As in other romantic fiction, the relationship represents an ideal Oedipal harmony, but it turns nevertheless on unquestioned credit and unpayable debt (52).
As the novel opens, we find Victor’s first- person narrative of his childhood, edification and the invention of the monstrous being he now undertakes. Then he goes on to exemplify the monsters’ relinquishment and the ventures underwent right from its birth. The monster claims to have been born compassionate and sensitive, but turns out to be vehement, felonious and belligerent owing to the social evils and manacles. The novel elaborately illuminates the conflict between the monster and Victor in rest of the chapters. Victor losses his close ties and he fails to accept the death of his soul mate, Elizabeth. The curtain falls with Watson’s account of Victor’s demise, the repentance of the creature and his want to undertake a voyage to the Pole to demolish himself on a funeral pyre.
Frankenstein's creature is the most alarming of all as its very presence increases the query of what marks something mortal and active. Victor creates it without God’s intervention and the creature does not appear proper in any communal situation. Victor, through the creation of the monster, attempts to combat nature and and it signifies his desire to demonstrate his exceptional forte. Its dearth of uniqueness and rejection by Victor persuades it to seek vengeance on Victor. We are meant to empathize with the monster as it gets denial from its sole creator. But our heart also praise Victor as he tries to destroy his evil creation and thereby save nature and humanity from the horrifying hands. The whole negativity exists not with any character, but with the very act of unusual creation of the monster.
Frankenstein is certainly a modern novel with respect to the handling of scientific breakthroughs. Captain Robert Watson is presented as a natural logician and pioneer who, inspired by the travel narratives, delves into the mysteries of the North Magnetic Pole and explore for a channel through the Artic Ocean. He articulates:
I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight the sun is for ever visible, its broad disk just ckirting the horizon, ane diffusing a perpectual splendour sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe (15).
The novel has many symbolic inferences when scrutinized as it indicates romantic struggling counter to the habitual precincts or restrictions retained on our survival. Victor rises high above the expectations of the common man by giving life to an entity.He utilises his knowledge and desires very hard to accomplish the impossible things in life. Rather than leading a very normal life of a learned man, he wants to cross the boundaries and imprint his name in history. For that he steps out to perform a never attempted action that has momentous consequences. His romantic zest and scientific curiosities urge him to give life to a monster. The novel highlights the message that human beings have limitations and if ever they try to cross over or encroach their boundaries, they definitely will have to suffer great penalties.
Frankenstein also raises political and social questions about the reality of crime and guilt. Many reviewers argue that the creature represents the violent actions of the revolutionary masses. The monster describes how he was innately hospitable, welcoming his originator with a smile before the latter runs away from him in terror, sickened by his physical dreadfulness. The monster gradually recognises that his physique is grotesque and screens himself away and covertly helps the unfortunate family, the De Laceys. To quote Peter J. Kitson:
The creature claims that he is ‘malicious’ only because he is miserable and that ‘if any being felt emotions of benevolence’ for him he would return them an hundred and an hundred fold; for that one creature’s sake and ‘make peace with the whole kind!(p.148). At the centre of the novel is the worst crime society can imagine, the murder of a child; nevertheless, the reader may maintain a sympathy for the Creature and attach the blame and responsibility to his creator and society at large(391).
The monster makes all the possible attempts to develop a sublime association with nature and man. But contrary to his expectations, he fails and stands isolated from the community. He recognizes that “[T]he human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union. [I]f I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” (Shelley 173). The monster’s shift in attitude brings in miseries that ultimately presages the novel’s shocking climax. Even though the novel portrays the stylized and embellished frame that are typical romantic characteristics, the narrative becomes a parable for extremely valid feelings and efforts with which romantic writers were extremely obsessed with.
Frankenstein, while touching on the characteristics and concerns of the romanticism, challenges the common use and treatment of the romantic ideals. Charles Shug comments:
Romanticism informs every aspect of the novel; as for the whole, so for its parts: the aesthetic properties of the novel itself are mirrored the experiential problems that its characters face. The novel uses narrative as an element of logical and rational organization, and so does each of its narrators. It is compulsory because only through his pursuit will he be continuously forced to live up to the responsibility of formulation and reformulation of values (615).
Mary Shelley makes her character, Victor, step out from the expectations and categorizations of the Romantic man and he lets his monster enter the society. The monster causes misery and leads to the eventual destruction of the creator. The chief revulsion of the novel is the image of science, wanting of any deific inspiration, surpassing the conventional restrictions of humankind. Shelley’s novel remains relevant even in the twenty first century as the monster denotes the startling upshots of humanity transgressing its confines. Victor Frankenstein's creation functions as a metaphor for the apparent terrible outcomes of science treading outside its established margins.
Dussinger, John. "KINSHIP AND GUILT IN MARY SHELLEY'S "FRANKENSTEIN." JSTOR. Studies in the Novel, University of North Texas. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/29531766>.
Guyer, Sara. “Testimony and Trope in Frankenstein: Studies in Romanticism 45.1. 2006
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. Charlottesville, Va.: U of Virginia Library, 1996. Print.
Schug, Charles. "The Romantic Form of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." JSTOR. Rice University. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/450311>.
Poplawski, Paul. English Literature in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.
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