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Frankenstein Essay

1602 words - 7 pages

Student Name Professor: English 212 Date: A Discussion of the Power of the Single Human Mind vs. the Power of Society In Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus The first edition of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was published in 1918. It is the premise of this paper that Shelley was strongly influenced at the time she wrote her novel by the emerging philosophies characteristic of the period of Romanticism. It is the further premise of this paper that Frankenstein remains a literary example of the central values associated with Romanticism and its' emphasis on the importance and power of the single human mind in comparison ...view middle of the document...

As described by Patterson in his frequently asked question section, the romanticism movement as a period in which there was an over-riding concern with the individual and the assertion of self. Societal change was closely linked with the efforts of the individual. When such efforts failed, a strong sense of emotionality was experienced in relation to the defeat of the individual rather than the experience of loss in relation to the potential good society may have obtained as a consequence of the desired change. According to Brians in his study guide on romanticism, the period of romanticism was also strongly reflected in its' focus on nature and the individuals desire to be at one and a part of nature. As Patterson suggested in his frequently asked question section, there was immense concern for the fate of the individual as the Industrial Revolution sprung forth drastically changing society, the social order and nature itself.In comparison, Brians, within his study guide on the Enlightenment period, describes the Enlightenment period as a movement in which it was believed that society would be perfected through the application of human reason and rationality. As Brians suggests further in his study guide on the Enlightenment Period, it was believed that each of these factors would operate in unison to undermine the authority of the Church and the power of the ruling aristocracies at that time, both of which were perceived as the primary obstacles to societal change. Rather than valuing nature for esthetic reasons, it was perceived as providing society with a sense of natural law which helped to insure routine and civil obedience.The influence of romanticism and its' emphasis on the importance of the individual mind, the individuals desire to bring about societal change ultimately for his/her own acclaim, and the individuals desire for a sense of connectedness with nature are clearly evidenced in the writing of Shelley within her book Frankenstein. A review of two of the primary characters, their aspirations, and their pursuits, as revealed through Shelley's text, presents an obvious basis for the argument that the single human mind was a central theme within her writing. As will be presented, while the individual characters present themselves as motivated to achieve their desired goals for the advancement and good of society, the driving force behind their pursuits was for their own growth and development as well as the acclamations such achievements might bring. To demonstrate the importance which Shelley associated with the overall power of the single human mind, the quotes of two primary characters, Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein, will be presented and discussed.The first character introduced to the reader is Robert Walton, the captain of a ship, who is pursuing his life long dream of discovering a passage to the North Pacific Ocean. As Walton writes his sister, he provides the reader with an understanding of the motivations which...

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