OCR English Literature Frankenstein Essay on Family

Essay on Family

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Fiona Donnelly 13D
Consider Mary's Shelley's presentation of family
and alienation in Frankenstein (30)
The themes of Family and Alienation are crucial to the narrative plot of Frankenstein. The
reasons for the creation of his monster lie within Frankenstein's own familial relationships
and the grief he experienced at the loss of his mother. In addition, the subsequent alienation
of the Creature due to his horrific appearance and the resulting loneliness he feels result in
the all consuming anger which causes him to initiate the murders he commits within the
novel.
Mary Shelley's own family life was not perfect. Her mother had died shortly after her birth
and Mary and her sister Fanny did not take kindly to their father's second wife, Mary Jane
Clairmont. Furthermore after Mary left for France with Percy Shelley ties were severed with
her father who disapproved of the match between his daughter and the currently married
Percy. Mary was alienated from her family back in England by the choice to run away with her
beloved, a situation seeming reflected in Frankenstein's separation from his family when he
attends Ingolstadt.
The family of Victor Frankenstein seem to have developed very close relationships and rely
heavily on one another for companionship and compassion. When Victor Frankenstein
describes his early childhood he speaks of an existence full of love and joy where, "my
mother's tender caresses and my father's smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me,
are my first recollections." The family adopt a young orphan from a peasant family, Elizabeth,
and raise her as their own and bestow upon her their loving care and attention. Victor tells
Walton in his second chapter that, "No human being could have passed a happier childhood
than myself". However, the death of the protagonist's mother sees the beginning of the
end for this easy family life. Frankenstein's father, Alphonse, is left broken, isolated and
lonely after the death of his wife and this is only exemplified by the loss of his son to his
scientific devotions and the family seems to fall apart at the seams as the novel progresses
as the Creature's malicious intents effectively wipe the family out.
Victor Frankenstein becomes alienates himself when he leaves to follow his dreams in the
world of science and becomes so absorbed in his works that communication is severed with
his family and indeed the world around him, "And the same feelings which made me neglect
the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles
absent, and whom I had not seen for so long a time."
This self-isolation is also present within Walton's character. Carina Brännström states that
the letters Walton writes to his sister, "can be seen as a meeting place where Walton tells
her about his isolation and loneliness." Walton is firstly isolated by his ship's entrapment far
beyond the reaches of civilisation and secondly by his position within the crew. As captain he

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Fiona Donnelly 13D
is isolated from the rest of the crew and cannot partake in their activities. Moreover they do
not share in his dreams or ambitions and a mutiny occurs upon the ship. Walton is shown as
longing for a friend who will "sympathise" with him and "whose eyes would reply" to his.…read more

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Fiona Donnelly 13D
person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I?
Whence did I come?"
Additionally, even in the meeting place of these two characters, Victor Frankenstein and the
Monster, Mary Shelley highlights the alienation of the pair at this point in the novel.…read more

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Fiona Donnelly 13D
understood and this is what he believes a companion could offer him. Alienation is all that has been
afforded to him by the human race.
In Frankenstein, the themes of family and alienation come hand-in-hand and play as a large a part in
the formation of the plot and characters as they play in the development of any person as "the
family... carries the key social and moral responsibility for raising the next generation" (Dr R
Westheimer).…read more

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