“When it comes to being happy, there is no right or wrong. It’s just a battle between your happiness and their judgment”
The book Frankenstein’ written by ‘Mary Shelley’, tells the story of a young man, Victor Frankenstein who becomes obsessed with messing with nature and the human body. His ultimate goal is to bring the dead back to life. The book is set in Geneva, Switzerland which is also where the philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau is from. We can see that after reading about Rousseau’s theories, we can relate them back to the ideas that Mary Shelley may have been trying to convey through the book, Frankenstein. This essay is based on my understanding of Rousseau’s theories and how they give us an insight into what I think Mary Shelley’s intentions are.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a writer, composer, and philosopher. He was born in 1712 and died in 1778 which meant that Rousseau lived through the age of enlightenment. The age of enlightenment was an intellectual movement also known as “the century of philosophy” which lasted from 1685-1815. Rousseau Studied the age of enlightenment and came up with theories that influenced the enlightenment all through Europe and created the overall development of modern political thought. Rousseau looked closely into human behavior and based his studies around this, he was thought to be one of the most popular philosophes and known as a national hero. Rousseau has said that “People in their natural state are basically good, but this natural innocence, however, is corrupted by the evils of society”. Jean-Jacques Rousseau believes that people were born good, there wasn’t a person born that was destined to be evil, the only thing that clouded peoples goodness was the thoughts and actions of the society. I think he was trying to tell us that we all have good inside of us and wants us to realize how much the society impacts our own actions and emotions. I believe that societies expectations have been valued since they became a thing. If you were to go against them, you were frowned upon by the society but this is difficult for some people as everyone is different and everyone has different views and opinions
We can relate the way that Mary Shelley conveyed the monster in Frankenstein emotions towards the end, to the fact that Rousseau believed all people were born good. After Victor Frankenstein’s passing, the monster felt remorse towards him, even though they were enemies. His last words to Frankenstein were “‘Farewell! I leave you, and in you the last of humankind whom these eyes will ever behold. Farewell, Frankenstein! If thou wert yet alive and yet cherished a desire of revenge against me, it would be better satiated in my life than in my destruction.” I can relate this to the piece of Rousseau’s theory as even though Frankenstein was out to destroy Frankenstein’s life, he came back to feel upset after seeing him lying dead. If the monster was pure evil like he perceived himself to be, the monster would have been happy to finally see his enemy die, but he was the complete opposite. He felt compassion against his creator even if he didn’t show it in the beginning. The monster was born good but by the actions of Victor Frankenstein and opinions of the society, his goodness was clouded causing him to be angry all the time which may have made him do things that he didn’t necessarily want to do. Then, what he thought was his main goal (ruining Frankenstein’s life) had been accomplished, he realized that it wasn’t what he wanted. All of his anger that was influenced? by the society, which included Frankenstein, had disappeared for this moment in time where he saw Frankenstein dead, which after reading Rousseau theory, I believe no evil was present and this was his natural state.
Another part of Rousseau’s theory states that “Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education, we are born totally unprovided, we need aid, we are born stupid, we need judgment. Everything we do not have at our birth and which we need when we are grown is given to us by education.” This quote is pretty self-explanatory, he is saying that we are all basically born dumb, we are born without any knowledge of anything, we need someone to teach us, to shows us the ways of the world. I believe that there are two different ways that we learn, one being, by watching and copying what someone or something does and the other is, trying something and being judged on it. The Judgement we receive could be bad or good. Learning new things take time and the first way we can learn something is to watch and try ourselves. This could be beneficial or could ruin our life. By this, I mean everyone is different. Some people are kind, accepting and smart (good qualities) but some people are mean, judgemental and selfish (bad qualities) which necessary isn’t their fault but if we are going to learn by watching people and trying it ourselves, it is going to depend on the people we are watching. If we see all the people around us yelling to get their own way or making fun of someone because they wear different clothes, we are going to do the same thing as we don’t know any better, we haven’t seen anyone do anything different.
(Explain how judgment effects us) (relate this part of the theory to the book) (find a quote from Frankenstein) (Write conclusion)