Individualism in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is clearly a cautionary tale that spells the ethical and sociological ramifications of the viewpoint of the Knowledge. There is a tendency to limit the style of the novel to science, and therefore to ignore the underlying approach. However the scientist is only urged, or prevented, by the social and philosophical scene in which he exists.

In this sense the increase of modern-day science need to be properly credited to the approach of Enlightenment, that which believed in the unlimited perfectibility of man through the rigorous practice of reason.

If speculative philosophy is one expression of this philosophy, then philosophic individualism is another. This latter philosophy maintains that the person is intrinsically free, and therefore his nature is ultimately excellent, which likewise suggests that it is lacking evil. Evident evil just shows the constraints of male as a social being. The goal of politics should therefore be to decrease society and motivate the private as far as possible. The severe symptom of such thinking is anarchism. We next remember that Mary Shelley was brought up in an environment of extreme anarchism.

Both her parents were anarchists, and she was brought up in the same mould. Her spouse, the popular poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, was also an avowed anarchist and atheist. Therefore the novel may be fruitfully evaluated from the perspective of philosophic individualism. Victor Frankenstein is not the agent of science in the unique, as is generally thought. The true such representative is the explorer Robert Walton, who is on a scientific expedition to the Artic Circle. This location symbolizes the extreme edge of the product universe.

The journey represents the simple and pleased path to knowledge. Such a mindset is reflected in Walton’s following comment, made in a letter to his sister: “What might not be expected in a country of everlasting light?” (Shelley 16). Science promises to toss clear and eternal light on all things, and the path is a simple among experiment and induction. Walton is not expected to understand of that which lurks underneath the surface area, and he just comes to know it through the narrated experience of Frankenstein, whom he detects the method.

He might not comprehend the complete implication of what Frankenstein informs him, however the implied caution suffices, so he terminates his objective and turns his ship back. He is able to take in enough of the message, that the practice of science is stuffed with threat, and that it is not wise to aim towards the limitations of understanding.

Frankenstein is even more than a simple researcher. Not mere rational descriptions, he aims for “the theorist’s stone and the elixir of life” (Ibid 48). He sees science as an useless venture if it can never come to the supreme cause of things, and need to then just dabble with immediate causes.

He avoids science in favor of alchemy on his first getting in university. Alchemy is the arcane discipline which considers the limitations of science, and intends to conquer them by the more profound understanding of the procedures of Production itself. In the end it is science that is employed in the creation of “the creature”, but is likewise specific the secret of generation lies with alchemy. The latter achieves success only when it overcomes the limitations of science. Therefore the creature, which is imbued with life, need to be called a successful union of alchemy and science.

Frankenstein is in completion an alchemist. He must run in the darkest secrecy, this being the only mode of alchemy. Worrying the arcane sciences Montaigne has actually observed,” [T] o go according to nature is just to go according to our intelligence, as far as it can follow and as far as we can see; what is beyond is monstrous and disordered” (391 ). Captured up in such monstrous styles, Frankenstein can not describe himself throughout the unique, even as the menace of the monster becomes more and more serious. The aspect of philosophic individualism appears when we come to consider the animal itself.

As soon as it has come to life it is an individual, and the inevitable contrast appears with the model individual, which is Adam. The parallel contrast is in between the Developer and Frankenstein. What is the implication of this conceit to mimic the Developer? An important idea is discovered in how Shelley explains the inspiring vision that led her to compose the unique, which is consisted of in the Preface to the 1831 edition: “Frightful must it be,” she says, “for supremely terrible would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Developer of the world” (qtd. in Lederer et al, 3).

It is inevitable that the animal turn out to be a scary. All involved concerned this necessary reality. Frankenstein understands this as quickly as he sees the very first muscle twitch. To the creature too the scary unfolds after he is permitted to compare himself with “real” animals. His discovery of Milton’s Paradise Lost is a consummation of his understanding. He has actually observed the superb virtues of the human by observing town life from afar. He feels such virtue swelling inside himself. But to reveal this he must have society, and his horrid attitude will not allow him to have human business.

He is genuinely alone, and then he finds the parallel to his own situation in the predicament of Adam when alone in Eden. The distinction is that Adam’s creator is caring and forgiving, whereas his own developer has actually abandoned him in revulsion. He knows that the only course open up to him is to excite pity in the heart of his developer. Like Adam, he requests a female being of his kind, whose business will console him. But this is not to be, due to the fact that his developer dislikes him too highly. The moral of the tale appears to be that the overreach of knowing tends towards alienation.

In the first instance we have Victor Frankenstein, whose mad mission for the trick of vitality urges him into a solitary venture, and from which there can be no link back to society. Even when the whole thing has gone terribly wrong, and all those near to him are threatened, and are being murdered one by one, he can not explain what is fundamentally a trick. The animal too is no less a disaster. As Paul Sherwin notes,” [T] he evacuation of the spiritual presence from the world of the unique recommends that Frankenstein is more a house of ruins than your home divided” (883 ).

The animal is smart and delicate, however suffers the more so since it brings house to him the total wretchedness of his condition. To the world he is a monster, and only his creator can redeem him, through empathy and pity. Both creator and animal have been cut adrift from the world as abandoned individuals. They have both become monstrosities, and certainly the structure of the unique itself is monstrous in many methods, as has been suggested by Daniel Cottom (60 ). Alienation is revealed to be the item of Enlightenment approach and the Industrial Transformation.

The procedure of individuation in the West can be traced back to the Protestant Reformation. Calvinism and Puritanism only masked the inner propensity towards individualism, which burst forth in the 18th century as the Enlightenment. The doctrine of Calvin is inimical to all organizations. The very concept of the brand-new individual is what animated Milton to rewrite the story of Production in Paradise Lost. The latent anarchism of the new faith is discovered in the following lines where Adam complains to God: Did I demand thee, Maker from my clay To mould Me man?

Did I get thee From darkness to promote me? (Milton 269) We hear a clear echo of the creatures’ lament in these words. So in Milton himself, who was a strong Puritan, we discover the seed of Frankenstein’s monster. In his more youthful days he composed scathing anarchist texts, such as Areopagitica. Anarchism has actually constantly been a growing pattern in the political thinking about the West from Milton onwards. John Locke and Edmund Burke were key supporters in this regards. William Godwin concerned voice an extreme form of such thinking, which became very influential.

When Hazlitt concerned summarize the spirit of the age, he put the name of Godwin at the leading edge. (Bowerbank 418). With Godwin, not just all socio-political organizations, but even the institution of marital relationship was suspect. This is the milieu that Shelley imbibed, and pertained to portray in her novel.

The new individual is not constantly an anarchist by choice. The commoner is most likely to be individualist by obsession. Here we have the distinction between Frankenstein and the creature. The predicament of the commoner is no less awful. He is a creature of mechanization, and is pushed away from all that surrounds him.

Frankenstein’s animal is symbolic of the brand-new individual. It can only appeal to its developer, and is therefore destined cope with mechanization. In this method Shelley paints for us a haunting photo of the brand-new reality which the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution had actually produced. In conclusion, Mary Shelley’s unique Frankenstein is a cautionary tale about appreciating the limits of science, but at an even more profound level it illustrates the alienated person of modern commercial society. Shelley was raised in a climate of extreme individualism.

Her parents were anarchists, as was her husband, and she kept routine company with poets and artists who lived and believed in this mode. In the novel, Robert Walton is agent of science, but Victor Frankenstein is a far more important character, since he represents the arcane viewpoint that sustains science. But the most important representation is of the monstrous creature, who is representative of the new individual.

Works Pointed out

Bowerbank, Sylvia. “The Social Order vs The Scum: Mary Shelley’s Contradictory-Mindedness in Frankenstein.” ELH. Vol. 46, No. 3 (Fall, 1979), pp. 418-431.

Cottom, Daniel. “Frankenstein and the Monster of Representation.” Compound. Vol. 9, No. 3, Concern 28 (1980 ), pp. 60-71.

Lederer, Susan E; Elizabeth Charge, Patricia Tuohy. Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature. Rutgers University Press, 2002.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Collector’s Library, 2004.

Milton, John. Paradise lost and other poems. Ed. Edward Le Comte. New York City: Signet Classic, 2003.

Montaigne, Michel de. The Total Essays of Montaigne. Ed. Donald Murdoch Frame. Stanford University Press, 1965.

Sherwin, Paul. “Frankenstein: Production as Catastrophe.” PMLA. Vol. 96, No. 5 (Oct., 1981), pp. 883-903.