Over the years, the questions what is human and humanity have been researched on by various scientists, scholars in conjunction with other people of a distinctive cadre. Because there is no apparent straight answer, that could describe in totality what it means to be human, there have been numerous attempts in explaining the notion (Shelley 56). One such explanation is that a part of what can lead to an individual or creature to be considered human is its ability to grow and learn together in a communal setting. However, in the Frankenstein novel, the theme of humanity is so primarily expressed. As we go through the texts, it would be possible to identify some traits which have been used in the assessment and definition of humanity and human nature. Some of this features are love, mistakes, taking responsibility and curiosity among other traits as depicted in the novel (Shelley 57. The essay raises an argument on the nature of humanity based on curiosity, mistakes, love, and companionship in an attempt to define humanity and what makes one human.
Throughout humankind history, there have been numerous discoveries made. Curiosity can be defined as a strong desire to learn or know something. This is mainly attributed to the fact that people are inquisitive creatures by nature with the constant burning sensation to learn new things. Throughout Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein curiosity has been primarily expressed by all the various characters. An example of this is where Robert Walton is seen to have the strong desire to explore the North Pole (Meirieu 33-34). Victor Frankenstein is also seen be absorbed by science as he works towards creating a human being which he finally does.
However, this desire to explore and learn more can be argued to being a crucial trait that makes victor and Robert Walton human as without this drive in them and other characters in the book then the human civilization most certainly will stop to develop while also leading to degradation (Meirieu 37). Considering that on the planet the only rational beings are human beings, with curiosity being the crucial part of human nature, this can be seen as the reason why individuals are curious. In this context, the creature can also be considered human based on this trait we witness in the novel when it tries learning more about what is in its surrounding and its attempts to understand this.
Curiosity, as depicted in the novel primarily, leads to negative consequences, but if it is controlled, it can lead to many positive outcomes. At the start of the story, Mary Shelley starts with the idea of Robert Walton writes to his sister telling her that he needs friends for when he would be glowing with enthusiasm due to the success he would want people to share in his joy. Here it is evident that Robert's curiosity of the future makes him think and plan about his progress thus depicting curiosity as an essential trait of being human(Meirieu 39).
In the same light, it is also evident when the creature gets curious however its efforts to communicate to De Lacey's family are rejected finally making it understand that it cannot find companionship with human beings and this discovery changes him. This is the adverse effect of curiosity as for when an individual gets rejected he becomes angry at those rejecting him and vengeful which is a typical human reaction to rejection. This can also be seen in the creature's reaction as he vows vengeance to all humankind therefore also building to the argument that the creature is human (Shelley 63).
Doctor Frankenstein also strongly depicts how curiosity is a crucial trait in the definition of what it takes to be human as he is seen to be very interested in where human life emanates. This is a significant curiosity which most if not all human beings have wondered about at some point in their lives. Doctor victor's interest leads him to learn about physiology and chemistry. This curiosity and the resulting drive finally enables him to make a significant discovery that allowed him to bestow animation on lifeless matter. It is thus evident based on this that curiosity as a defining nature of human being is responsible for most if not all the human being developments both in the novel and in the society we live in (Sangiovanni-Vincentelli et al. 23).
Love and Companionship
Love can be defined as a variety of different mental and emotional states positively and actively experienced by human beings and ranges from simple pleasures to intense interpersonal affections. In the novel Frankenstein, this emotion is depicted by various characters being seen strongly as a means to define or show the humanity of the character. A clear example of this can be seen as the creature upon its creation and abandonment doctor Frankenstein would steal part of the food storage of a specific family in the novel and eat it at night. However, we can see at this time the creature did not know the meaning of love as since its creation its creator fled leaving him alone in the world (Sangiovanni-Vincentelli et al. 69).
However, we can witness later on when it comes to a cottage he can gain his first glimpses of love as he observes as he observes them going through their daily life activities. We can see that he gets to thinking of the events that he saw the initial day where the gentle manners in which the people in the cottage stands out for him, this entices him to want to join them but as he notices his difference, he dares not (Spivak et al. 57). Also, while observing the family the conduct of the younger cottagers towards those he deems to being their more vulnerable colleague as they perform every little duty with affection and gentleness; while he always rewarded them by smiling benevolently stands out to him, and he understands this to be love.
On the other hand according to Segura et al. (13), after observing this acts of kindness and love the creature notices the difference between him and the family members and thus starts showing acts of kindness too in a bid to become more human. The evidence of this aspect can be seen as after observing the family and noticing that his habit of stealing their food in the storage is hurting them he desists from this activity. Also, when he noted that the family would spend the better part of the day gathering wood, he began taking their tools at night and bringing back enough wood that could last them a couple of weeks.
From this point on the creature sought out love which differentiated its reactions from the essential instinct reactions exhibited by animals and making it make decisions more based on emotion which arguably makes it human. This can be further supported in the latter stages of the novel when the creature finally meets doctor Frankenstein. At this time instead of punishing him like in the earlier stages where it killed his brother, it urges him to make a female version of it so that it can finally elope and live in happiness (Sangiovanni-Vincentelli et al. 32). This happens even though in this encounter doctor Frankenstein is still unloving and unsympathetic towards his creation showing the creature has learned humanity and the trait of forgiveness through its experiences.
A mistake can be defined as a judgment or an act that is wrong or misjudged, being that human beings are the only conscious beings capable of judgment, mistakes can be viewed as a crucial trait that could be used to show humanity or lack thereof in a person or a creature. In the novel, it is clear that even though doctor Frankenstein is a brilliant scientist he is short-sighted too. This trait caused him to make some vital mistakes which brought his humanity to question. Some of the major mistakes he makes include isolating himself by hiding his research findings from others. We can read that he kept his progress and his research hidden from his fellow researchers and his teacher (Segura et al. 17).
Therefore, when he created the came to life and started going on a murdering spree no one could aid him to adjust its behavior or at the least destroy it. Thus in the midst of this crisis, Frankenstein could not turn to anyone for help and when he finally dies the creature is left living on and wreaking havoc. It can be argued out that if doctor Frankenstein was more humane, he would have considered the impacts that his actions and his creation would have had on other people would have sought out significant assistance from other researchers on how all those effects could be mitigated, this is an entirely humane approach and would have depicted doctor Frankenstein's humanity (Spivak et al., 57)
Another mistake made by the Frankenstein that brings his humanity to doubt is when we see him beholding his creation for the first time. Here he is said to be overwhelmed by disgust and remorse which makes him flee from its presence which made him unable to educate, nature and supervised it. This is known as a scalable oversight in today's society which was added to a scientific principle which states that the investor should carefully train, oversee and observe his or her intention (Spivak et al. 57). As doctor Frankenstein created the creature to be humanlike as much as possible and seek love and companionship if he would have been there to guide and oversee its inauguration into the society. Doing this would have prevented the damage and killings caused by the creature created would have been avoided as well as have been a humane thing to do as a doctor and father.
Frankenstein also made the mistake of defining love purely as a definite goal which would be beneficial both for the creature and human beings. Being that there was no other creature created like this before also being evident that there would always be a risk of something turning out wrong, if doctor Frankenstein was more long sighted and more humane, he would have included a mechanism that could shut down the creature in case anything crazy happened. This would stop the creature from ricking havoc to other individuals in the society (Oliver et al., 67).
In summary, it is evident from the arguments raised based on curiosity, mistakes and love and companionship in trying to explain what is humanity or what is considered to be human as judged by certain human traits. From assessing love, curiosity, and mistakes of the characters in the novel Frankenstein, it is possible to argue out on the concepts of human and human nature.
Meirieu, Philippe. Frankenstein pedagogue. ESF Sciences Humaines, 2017.
Mukherjee, Subhabrata, and Pushpak Bhattacharyya. "Sentiment analysis: A literature survey." arXiv preprint arXiv: 1304.4520 (2013).
Oliver, Kathryn, Theo Lorenc, and Simon Innvaer. "New directions in evidence-based policy research: a critical analysis of the literature." Health Research Policy and Systems 12.1 (2014): 34.
Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, Alberto, Werner Damm, and Roberto Passerone. "Taming Dr. Frankenstein: Contract-based design for cyber-physical systems." European journal of control 18.3 (2012): 217-238.
Segura, Elena, et al. "How do you like me in this: User embodiment preferences for companion agents." Intelligent Virtual Agents. Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2012.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, 1818. Engage Books, AD Classic, 2014.
Spivak, Gayatri C. "Critique of Imperialism." Postcolonial Criticism (2014): 145.
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