Week 5 Frankesntein Essay:
‘Believe me Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserabley alone' How does Shelley explore the theme of isolation in ‘Frankenstein'?
In the novel, one of the key themes that Shelley explores is Isolation, we see it occur in the lives of all three main protagonists in which this epistolary novel is made up of; Walton, Frankenstein and The Creature. This theme of isolation has also been reflected through Shelley's personal life and ways in which she felt isolated
This epistolary novel begins with letters that Walton writes to his sister. In his letters Walton seems to be isolated as he is aware ‘I have no friend' and worries that ‘when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy'. Through these letters to his sister we see that Walton is longing for a friend despite his own choice to fufill his dreams of gaining fame for himself by travelling to the Arctic and ‘shall sitiate my ardent curiousotiy with the sight of a part of the world never before visited'. We first see the theme of isolation presented through Walton and how it is due to his desire to become great that he is isolated. Shelley could have perhaphs included this theme right from the start of her novel to show how important this theme is and maybe suggest that isolation was something important to her and something that she experienced since her mother died 1797 just a few weeks after the birth of Shelley.
Isolation is something that Victor has experienced through a fault of his own. His childhood consisted of being a part of a ‘perfect family' as he was the only child for many years and his parents treated him like their ‘idol' therefore it is clear he was not isolated from ‘domestic affection' which we later see that his creation was. As Victor gets older, he begins to become fascinated with science and the world to him became ‘a secret which I desired to divine' and slowly begins to, like Walton, isolate himself by leaving his family and going to study at University. He is later isolated even more when he decides to set up his labortoray ‘in a solitary chamber' and comit himself to the work of his creation rather than use the Universites Laboratory. We gradually see him become more isolated and the creation of his Creature makes him realise ‘I have worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health'. Shelley has shown us that Victor has isolated himself because of his obsession with creating life and science and how this impacts his life negatively, later becoming ‘ill' and remains isolated for many years during his recovery where his only friend is Clerval. Shelley perhaps does this to clearly show that Victor does not know how it feels to be abandoned and left in isolation the way that he leaves The Creature. Through this we also see a parallel between Victor and Walton and how their dreams of achieving unimaginable things, this similarity could perhaps be Shelley teaching her readers that having these aims in life, which are not within their nature, can have a negative effect such as isolation.
The theme of alienation is shown the most through Victor's creation, the monster. Unlike both Walton and Victor who chose to isolate themselves, The Creature does not, he is isolated for many reasons that are no faults of his own. We first see the creature become isolated when he is abandoned by Victor, his creator and the ‘father'. The idea that his first experience was his own creator rejecting him shows how the Creature is alone in a world, with no knowledge about it, like a new-born baby. This could relate to Shelley and how she might of felt isolated when her mother died and she was still a new-born, showing how the lack of domestic affection impacted Shelley and this is reflected through The Creature. The second experience that also shows how the creature is isolated is when