Frankenstein Challenging Extreme Romantic and Enlightenment Ideologies

2085 Words Aug 10th, 2012 9 Pages
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein like all texts is far from neutral, acting as a site to challenge and/or endorse certain ideologies. Published in the 19th century, it follows the journey of three characters amidst the influence and conflict of extreme Romantic and Enlightenment ideologies. Mary Shelley experienced much heartbreak, suicide and sorrow with the intense Romantic lifestyle she had chosen to adopt with Percy Shelley and it can be argued that Frankenstein is a critique of radicalism as revealed by her comment ‘I earnestly desire the good and enlightenment of my fellow creatures... but I am not for going to violent extremes, which duly bring injurious reaction…I have no wish to ally myself with Radicals - they are full of repulsion to …show more content…
Shelley portrayed the very potential consequences of such an irrational vision, unfortunately these consequences became a reality for Victor Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley also challenges the Romantic ideology that man must liberate himself from intellectual chains and follow his emotion with spontaneity and freedom when it is taken to the extreme. Much like Walton, Victor Frankenstein was also gripped by irrational visionary which lead him to create human life from the remnants of dead humans. What resulted was a creature so grotesque that not even Frankenstein its creator could bear witness to it. In Chapter 4, Frankenstein reveals ‘It was with these feelings that I began the creation of a human being’ (pg 54). The word ‘feelings’ suggests very strongly that pure emotion was the driving force behind why he created the creature. Although many readers argue that Shelley is actually criticising the Enlightenment pursuit of knowledge as the reason behind Frankensteins downfall and the pursuing consequences on creature, creator and society; perhaps she is also challenging the very basic emotion that inspired Frankenstein to pursue such a task in the first place. What Frankenstein did was follow his ‘feeling’ suggestive that the decision was without logic or consideration of possible consequences. As a result of this Romantic ideology that man must liberate himself and follow his own emotion and spontaneity,

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