Mary Shelly wrote “Frankenstein” as a bet between her husband (Percy Shelly) and their friend (Lord Byron). Many features in the novel can be related to Shelly’s life, and I will point these out through out this essay. The basic plot of Frankenstein is that Victor Frankenstein creates a monster that experiences huge amounts of alienation, which results in it committing three murders. Victor chases the monster to the North Pole. There Victor dies of exhaustion after telling Captain Walton his story. When the monster hears of his death he vows to commit suicide.
Captain Walton experiences of alienation are mostly self-imposed. He sails to the North Pole in exploration of the world, and his only communication is through letters that he sends by passing them to ships heading in the opposite direction. This is shown in letter III on page 13 when he writes “This letter will reach England by a merchant man now on his homeward voyage from Archangel; more fortunate than I, who may not see my native land, perhaps for many years. ” This demonstrates that he knows what he is doing. But he puts himself though it any way.
This may have been seen as brave or heroic in Mary Shelly’s time. Now as the North Pole and other far-flung places have been explored, it would be seen as an attempt to break a world record, or a technical scientific experiment. If maps are needed, then satellites make them for us, but back then maps were needed and the only way of making one was to go there your self. Another point is that Walton doesn’t seem to communicate with his crew. This is illustrated in his third letter when he writes: “I have no friend…
I desire the company of a man could sympathise with me, whose yes would reply to mine. ” This shows that not only is he isolated from friends and family, he feels that he is separated from any life on, or around, the ship. If he were making his voyage today the ship would have radio and satellite communications, enabling him to communicate with family and close friends, and allow them to exchange feelings and give support in times of failure. Victor experiences heightened feelings of alienation, and like Walton most is self-inflicted.
One example of this is when he alienates him self in favour of science. This is shown when he says: “… never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest… but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature. ” This shows that victor is so engrossed and wrapped up in science; he doesn’t notice the world and nature around him. The use of the word “insensible” can be related to the creature’s initial state. Shelly wrote this to describe and emphasise victors rejection of the out side world. As soon as victor has created the creature he realises just how much he has alienated him self.
Comments such as: “Now I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart,” Convey this to us. This shows that only when it is too late does victor realise what he has done to himself. Now it would be seen like he had an outburst of common sense, but back in Mary Shelly’s time many people would think this to be an act of god. They would think that god made him realise, because he was angry that man had abused it’s power, and given life against gods will. Another point this quote points out is that the alienation is also directed at the creature.
In the whole book the creature is by far the most alienated of all the characters. From his very first being, Victor instantly alienates the creature. He then re-enforces this feeling when he meats the creature in the Alps. This is shown in Volume II Chapter II when victor says; “My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled by all the feelings which can arm one being against another” This would be the general feeling of any one during the time Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein. Nowadays people would be much more wary of a strange creature that is bigger and stronger than themselves.
The use of the word “impelled” shows that victor feels almost as if another force were urging him to carry out the action. Shelly may be hinting at the religious view that god would be angry with victor for creating life against his will. Also when the creature is first created he is confused by the different senses he is experiencing. This is shown when the creature comments; “A strange Multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt, at the same time… a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses.
” The word “multiplicity” means “a large number or variety. ” This suggests that the creature is overloaded with information, confusing him. This is a feeling that not many people have experienced. When the creature reaches a village, the villagers instantly alienate him. This is shown in Volume II Chapter III when the following passage is quoted; “The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and other missile weapons, I escaped into open country. ” This would have been seen as a sensible course of action during Mary Shelly’s time.
However in the modern world, it would be seen as cruel and brutal. This demonstrates the difference between the two periods of time. Much of the settings in Frankenstein also add to the theme of alienation. One of the first examples of this is when victor finally completes the creature. This is shown when victor says to Walton; “It was a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. ” The use of the word “dreary” further emphasises the bad weather and cold time of year. The narrative structure in the novel is very complex.
This is best described through a drawing. This shows that the creature is at the centre of the story. He then tells his story to victor, who then tells Captain Walton. The diagram also demonstrates, more acute feelings of alienation that characters feel the closer to the centre the person is.