Rousseau’s Philosophy in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Rousseau’s Viewpoint in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the titular character states that “If [guy’s] impulses were confined to cravings, thirst and desire, [he] might nearly be totally free” (Shelley, 97). With this assertion, Victor imparts his belief that guy is most content in the state of nature; a state where only his most primal requirements must be satisfied in order to be pleased. Guy in his natural state is the central subject in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s philosophic essay A Discourse on Inequality, an academic work that had significant influence on Shelley.

Shelley uses 3 of Rousseau’s major beliefs as basic aspects of Frankenstein; man is most content in the state of nature, society is what damages him and once corrupted, he can never return to his natural state. These ideas are exhibited by the monster in nature, the beast in society and Frankenstein on his retreat in the Chamounix valley. Shelley applies Rousseau’s philosophy as a method of commentary on the negative impacts that modern-day society has on mankind. The beast begins his existence as Rousseau’s? Natural Guy, living according to his standard needs and as a result is satisfied.

Rousseau specifies that natural male is blessed with an excellent total liberty because he is not a servant to the synthetic needs that civilized guy has created for himself, such as companionship and the quest for greater understanding (Edwards). As Frankenstein’s nascent creation ventures out into the countryside, he is not lonely- though he wanders through the wilderness unaccompanied- because natural guy’s couple of transactions with other people are entirely for reproductive functions (Edwards). According to the philosopher, “Food (?) and rest are the only good ideas for natural guy; the only evils are discomfort and cravings” (Edwards).

As such, at the start of his journey the beast’s only concerns are his “tiredness, (?) cravings and thirst” (Shelley, 103). Difficulties sustained by the creature as natural guy are due to innate weaknesses, and are easily overcome by finding nutrition or shelter. Berries and roots satisfy the monster’s hunger, and when he finds fire, he has a source of warmth and is “gotten rid of with pleasure” (Shelley, 104). He ignores the reality that his appearance is horrific and has no knowledge of the concept of evil since he has actually had no exposure to society (Edwards).

The monster does not know that civilized guy views his awful outside as representative of wicked within, so he is baffled when the occupant of a hut he comes across produces a horrified scream and runs away (Shelley, 105). The monster later familiarizes good and evil; virtue and vice; due to the fact that he possesses the faculty of “perfectibility? guy’s inexhaustible ability to improve himself (?) and be shaped by his environment” (Edwards). This quality of versatility permits enlightenment to happen, but is ultimately the source of all of male’s anguish.

The monster ends up being deadly through his exposure to society, a phenomenon that is congruent with Rousseau’s teaching. The beast as natural male is nomadic; he roams from location to place, consuming and resting where he can. When he discovers appropriate shelter in the hovel attached to the De Lacey’s cottage it becomes hassle-free for him to stay there. According to Rousseau’s discourse, “brand-new benefits [compromise] bodies and minds, and [eventually turn] into requirements” (Edwards). The monster’s newfound kennel is directly surrounding to a familial society; one that? due to his perfectibility? changes him irrevocably by producing a need for assimilation.

Rousseau composes that “without language or the ability to reason, it simply never occurs to the savage to be wicked” (Edwards). Language- considered by the monster to be a “godlike science [that he] ardently desire [s] to end up being familiarized with” (Shelley, 112)– is the social construct that speeds him toward corruption. As soon as he masters the art of interaction, he is exposed to the history of civilized guy and literature. Through analysis of those media he learns to hate and resent Victor (Shelley, 128, 131), to relate to Satan (Shelley, 129) and most unfortunately why a guy would murder his fellow (Shelley, 119).

The event that seals the monster’s conversion from benign to deadly occurs when he lastly physically enters the familial society he has actually been observing. The De Laceys’ response of scary, consternation and violence upon witnessing him (Shelley, 135), fills his mind with ideas of “rage and vengeance” (Shelley, 136); “injury and death” (Shelley, 138). From that point in his life onward, he “glut [s] himself with the squeals and torment” (Shelley, 136) of those whom Frankenstein– his “accursed developer” (Shelley, 130)– loves. The beast wants to “get rid of all thought and sensation” (Shelley, 120) however knowledge clings to” [his] mind (? like a lichen on the rock” (Shelley, 120). The understanding that society cultivates in man is irreversible; as soon as got it can never ever be dispossessed. Victor’s futile retreat into nature corresponds with Rousseau’s conclusion that male can never go back to his natural state. The thinker is clear that although his Discourse is devoted to the discovering of male’s natural qualities, this act of “discovering (?) can only be undertaken in a fictional method [because it is] impossible to return to the state of nature” (Edwards). Victor grows up in civilization, and due to his quality of perfectibility is corrupt from the very start.

Society cultivates in him artificial concerns for glory and scientific accomplishment that ultimately lead him to enliven the “demoniacal corpse” (Shelley, 58). When the unfavorable repercussions of his accomplishment in the field of natural approach- the deaths of William and Justine- end up being too much for Victor to bear, he sets out “towards the Alpine Valleys (?) to forget [his] griefs” (Shelley, 94). Rousseau’s natural guy prefers to roam in solitude (Edwards) as does Victor; picking to “go without a guide [due to the fact that] the existence of another would destroy the solitary magnificence of the scene” (Shelley, 97).

He retreats into a natural surroundings in order to go back to his savage state; however while the surroundings “elevate [Victor] from all littleness of feeling [they can] not get rid of [his] grief” (Shelley, 96). Although he has extracted himself from society, he can not draw out from himself the understanding that society has instilled in him. As Victor begins to understand that his effort to return to nature is in vain, he regrets that “man boast [s] of perceptiveness superior to those evident in the brute [as] it only renders them more needed beings” (Shelley, 97).

Pertinent Topics Readers Also Choose

  • What Influenced Mary Shelley To Write Frankenstein

When Victor arrives of a mountain, he asks nature to “permit him (?) faint joy” (Shelley, 98) but his beast? a job that social issues for splendor pressed him to bring to life? has discovered him in his natural sanctuary. A product of civilization has followed him to his organic sanctuary, therefore rushing any hopes he had of restoring himself to the natural world. Mary Shelley wove Rousseau’s views on natural guy into Frankenstein in order to demonstrate how society distorts the concept of what is? natural’.

Rousseau prefaces his Discourse on Inequality with a quote from Aristotle, who states “what is natural has to be examined not in beings that are depraved, but in those that are excellent according to nature”. Although the being that Frankenstein creates is called unnatural and a? beast’; till he is exposed to society he is more natural than Frankenstein himself. While on the surface, Shelley’s novel appears to be an account of a creature intimidating society; upon closer analysis it is clear that Shelley’s tale is among society terrorizing a creature. Word Count: 1, 251