Hroughout the novel Frankenstein there are several underlying themes. One of the most evident is the importance of friendship, and relationships among individuals. Mary Shelly’s views regarding companionship are portrayed through the bonds that Victor Frankenstein both gains, and loses. Friendship is the driving force behind this novel, it is what possesses the characters, although each in a different manner. Shelley suggests through her writing that a man without friends is lacking an important aspect of life.
Robert Kiely examines this idea as well, saying Shelly feels that friendship provides both a “balancing and completing agent” (pp 295). This idea is further illustrated through the writings of Walton to his sister. Although he has had good fortune in finding a ship and crew, and is about to set out on the quest for knowledge that he craves, he feels sorrow due to his lack of companionship. “I have one want that I have never been able to satisfy… I have no friend… When I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate in my joy” (Shelley 53).
This is what deprives Walton from experiencing any pleasure in his life, holding him away from what he desires most. Upon meeting Victor, Walton’s letters to his sister express a sense of happiness and ease of mind (until Victor refuses to allow a bond to form). The absence of friendship and its results are also demonstrated in the daemon. Through his isolation he becomes a sinister being, his loneliness leads to anger and aggression, and he soon discovers that he can “create desolation” himself.
This clearly demonstrates Shelley’s belief that friendship provides a balancing of character, as the monster’s reactions and emotions never remain consistent. Victor further illustrates this idea after his separation from his family and companions. Recalling the bonds that he once had with others leads him to become miserable, often on the brink of mental stability. Each of these characters speaks about the importance of friendship, and what its absence has done to their lives.
Kiely sums up this idea by saying, “what she does mean is that no being truly exists – except in an insane wilderness of its own creation – unless it finds a relationship of mutual dependence with another” (pp 296). The matter of friendship is further explored as Shelley examines the idea of love. Through the interactions of Elizabeth and Victor it becomes evident that Shelley feels friendship is the foundation for anything stronger. Throughout the entire novel Victor and Elizabeth call each other “dear friend”, rather than “love”, hinting on the importance of the first.
The relationship between the two also reflects Shelley’s view that a man needs the comradeship of a women even more so than that of their own sex. The female companion is more valuable “since she can provide both spiritual sympathy and physical affection” (Kiely pp 295). This is exemplified through Elizabeth’s murder; when Clerval died it was a great and painful loss for Frankenstein, but when Elizabeth died, it was the end of everything for him. The importance of a friend of the opposite sex is also evident when the monster begs Frankenstein for a female similar to himself.