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Frankenstein's Monster - an Isolated, Disillusioned Child

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Frankenstein's Monster - An Isolated, Disillusioned Child

In Mary Shelley's romantic novel 'Frankenstein', the creature is physically and socially isolated, leaving him like a directionless child completely unprepared for the cruelties and disappointments of life. The rejection and isolation from those who are expected to love and teach him cause him to be ignorant and socially inept, which leads to his naive and skewed sense of justice, and finally the disillusionment that turns the previously benevolent and innocent creature into a violent and vengeful monster.

The creature's initial failure to understand the consequences of his actions are a direct result of his isolation from birth; the monster is essentially a child who lacks direction from an authority figure - namely, his creator, Frankenstein. This isolation and deprivation of guidance prevents him from understanding basic societal conventions, and leads him to act according to the dictates of his instincts: he enters a cottage in search of food, and the old inhabitant "[shrieks] loudly, and [quits] the hut, [running] across the fields with a speed of which his debilitated form hardly [appears] capable." (Shelley 87) After this event, the creature is driven to live in secrecy beside the De Lacey's cottage, too scared to even attempt contact. The creature's ignorance to conventions and his social retardation, caused by isolation and abandonment, leave him unable to socially function.

All the creature's knowledge of the world comes from what he witnesses from the De Lacey family and what he reads in romantic and idealistic books that instill him with unrealistic, utopian views and give him a skewed sense of justice. The creature is like an innocent child that never learns firsthand the evils of the world, and therefore has no concept of reality; because the only contact that the monster has with the De Laceys, and because he knows no better, he assumes that they are free of the 'vices of mankind'. Furthermore, the subject matter of the books he later finds gives the creature a distorted, romantic view of the world, and of human beings, thinking "Werter himself [to be] a... divine being" (Shelley 109). Moreover, the creature's limited experience demonstrates how isolation has made him immature, with a child's narrow concept of justice. For example, after he is shot by the little girl's father after saving her, "[his] sufferings [are] augmented also by the oppressive sense of the injustice [he feels] and ingratitude of [the rustic's] infliction.'" (Shelley 121) The creature unknowingly sets himself up for disappointment by bestowing these lofty attributes of nobility and benevolence on the De Laceys, and absorbing without question the grand and idealistic writings of Dante, Plutarch and Werter.

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