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Frankenstein as a Bildungsroman

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is an interesting example of a bildungsroman. Frankenstein also known as ‘The modern Prometheus’ tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a Sapient creature in an artificial scientific experiment. Though Frankenstein is contained with elements of the Gothic novel and the romantic literature, it has been argued to be the first true science fiction story.

Many novels contain characters who as they grow become more aware of the world outside. They learn about different things about this world and they develop their character as the novel progresses. These novels fall into the genre of Bildungsroman. Bildungsroman novels are also called the novels of development. In this novel the creature is created by victor Frankenstein without the involvement of any females. He was created purely by science. However the creature turns out to look miserable, ugly which makes him look like a monster. In this novel Mary Shelly talks about the monster who transforms from an innocent individual to an evil creature at the end. The entire story revolves around the monster and his creator who abandons him at the time of the monsters creation. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has great points about rejection, aesthetics, loneliness and their eternal effects on individuals. Society can often make an individual feel lonely and unwanted.

The monster is Victor Frankenstein’s creation created by joining old human body parts through chemicals and other experiments. He is 8 feet tall and enormously strong but has a mind of a newborn. Abandoned by his creator and
confused, he tries to get involved in the society but gets rejected. According to Shelley, human beings are blank at the time they are born just like a piece of white paper. Knowledge is gathered by experience throughout their life. The monster acquires all the knowledge by observing the people and experience in various emotions such as isolation, feeling of hatred and the pain of rejection which was based on his ugly appearance. These experiences transform his character from an innocent being to an evil monster. As the monster who is learning everything by experiencing and observing the nature and people around him, he discovers the feeling of rage and hatred only because of the society’s harsh and unequal treatment. Initially the monster makes several attempts so that the society and his creator accepts him. But then after understanding the people in the society with time the monster says that if he cannot inspire love he will cause fear among people. This explains how the monster changes over the period when he realizes the people in the society will never accept him and he chooses revenge out of the feeling of being isolated. With his increasing knowledge he humanizes with the society but at the same time he realizes that he does not belong to any community since he does not meet the expectation of the society’s standard of aesthetic point of view. He gains knowledge through the books like paradise lost by John Milton that he found inside his creator’s jacket. Despite of his abnormal body the creature goes to meet the cottages whom he sees as his own family. The old man treats him gently and friendly because of his blindness as he cannot see at the monster’s ugly face. However when the other members meets the creature they attack him and disrespect him. The reaction of the cottagers deeply affects him. Therefore the monster burns the entire cottage as a feeling of Revenge. Again when the creature rescues a girl from drowning he is attacked by the people instead. This makes him question about kindness. He then decides to create violence as a feeling of burning rage inside him. As a consequence of such hateful incidents the monster loses his hope to be included in the society. From his birth onward he suffers continuously through such injustices only because of his appearance. Hence it is the society that creates the ‘monster in Frankenstein. The consequence of rejection of the creature makes him a violent monster who murdered three innocent souls. Nonetheless along with some unacceptable actions of the creature it would not be correct to say that he is an
actual monster. Even after committing the murders his still feels regret which is one of the basic feelings of human beings. Accordingly it can be said that in spite of the Misfortunes that occurred to him he has humanity Deep inside him rather than cruelty. Thus we can say that Frankenstein is the story of the monster’s bildungsroman as it tells about the emotional growth of the monster.

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