Anne frankenweenie

Psychologists have long debated the nature versus nurture issue in the shaping of our identities. Are we shaped by our biology or by our environment? This psychological debate is explored in Mary Shelly’s gothic novel, Frankenstein. The novel poses a simple question: Was Frankenstein’s monster inherently an evil creature, or was he made into a killer because of his environment? Shelly’s characterization of Frankenstein’s monster shows that the creature began as a clean slate, but was shaped into a monster by his experiences and isolation. In accordance with John Locke’s Blank Slate Theory, or tabula rasa, Frankenstein’s monster was born with no knowledge. When he first came into existence, the creature had no previous life experiences and therefore could have no ideas. The creature said himself, ” no distinct ideas occupied my mind” (Shelley 88). Unbiased, the creature approached new situations naively and innocently, as any young child would. For instance, when he first discovered fire, he had no idea that touching the burning embers would cause pain. It was a learning experience, but his enthusiasm and fascination emanated like that of a young child, despite his immense stature and strength. When he wandered into a man’s hut, he clearly had no intention to hurt him. If the creature were inherently evil and bloodthirsty, he would have gone after the man. Initial interactions with humans, though they were not positive, left the creature with no emotional distress, as he was too innocent to understand emotion. It was not until the creatures met the DeLacey family did he learn what emotion meant. The DeLacey family was the creature’s first nurturer, though they were completely unaware of it. They had a profound impact on the creature’s development because their interactions led to his understanding of emotion and human relationships. When the creature realized that taking the food from the family was hurting them, he stopped. He understood that what he was doing was wrong. An inherently evil being would not have felt guilt, showing again that he was not born evil. In fact, the creature’s actions show that he is inherently good. Further disproving his evilness, the creature gathered wood for the DeLaceys and felt satisfied in helping them. Like a young child, those around him influenced the creature’s emotions. When the DeLaceys were happy, so was he; when they were sad, so was he. His level of empathy for the family again shows that he is not evil because an evil being would not have the capacity to feel compassion for others. Three events led to the creature’s turning point at which he started doing evil things. He was completely rejected by society when the DeLaceys chased him away, when [they] shot him after he saved a girl from downing, and when he discovered Victor Frankenstein’s papers describing his disgust in his creation. These overwhelmingly negative experiences led the creature to commit evil deeds. He was angered that he was forced to live an isolated life, even by his own creator. The creature was driven to murder Victor Frankenstein’s closest family and friends because of his immense resentment. The nature versus nurture issue is an enormous psychological debate because it is at times unclear whether we create our own identities based on our own cognition, or we learn our identities based on what we observe from others. A major aspect of the creature’s identity was his resentment toward Victor Frankenstein. Though psychologists may disagree on whether biology or environment play a more important role, many can agree that a lack of a parental figure can be detrimental to a child’s development. Though the creature was huge, he began with the mind of an infant. Because he was never nurtured by a parental figure, he developed resentment due to Victor Frankenstein’s absence. This resentment manifested itself in the creature’s desire for revenge. He was not created a bloodthirsty killer; the creature desired to make Victor Frankenstein feel the same isolation that he did. Another dimension of the creature’s environment that proved to be detrimental to his development was his isolation. The creature may not have been an actual human, but he developed like any human being. Humans are social creatures and have a need for companionship. People want to feel accepted by others, but the creature never knew acceptance because everyone was scared by his appearance. His isolation further led to his resentment of humans, especially his creator. Though the creature did kill Victor Frankenstein’s loved ones, his revelations to his creator showed that he was not truly evil. He was driven to murder by his environment and experiences. The creature showed remorse for killing those innocent people, something that an inherently evil being would not do. Even though his intentions were to hurt Victor Frankenstein, he was devastated by his death, proving one last time that he was truly not an inherently evil being. The creature was born with no knowledge, a “ blank slate. ” His nurturing or lack thereof was a major contribution to his identity. Shelly showed that in the nature versus nurture debate, nurturing plays a significant role in human development.