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How can the student write a paper on the theme of monstrosity in Frankenstein including...

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jan1952 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 4, 2013 at 12:48 AM via web

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How can the student write a paper on the theme of monstrosity in Frankenstein including details, ideas and concepts at least through chapter 15. [The paper should not be limited to the monster or Victor in Frankenstein.] 

 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:05 PM (Answer #1)

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For this type of essay, where you have to list several examples of one same concept, it is imperative that you gain a deep understanding of what it entails to "become" and "transform" into a monstrous state.

Notice that entering a monstrous state is a radical move from the normal, to the abnormal and chaotic. What characters, words, thoughts, or instances in the novel could be attributed to this irregular state?

Yet, if we take the simplest definition in the dictionary, the term "monstrous" means

something deviating from the normal.

Therefore let's explore what deviates from the normal in the novel Frankenstein.

  • Victor's intellect:

Although Victor is, by all means, an intellectually gifted individual, his hunger for knowledge does begin to deviate from "the normal".

We find him defying even his teachers, evading his friends and family, and dwelling ever so profoundly in his endeavour to discover the secret of life that he makes himself ill. He, however, fails to see any of this as a deviation of the norm

It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.

Therefore, we can award Victor's obsession with "the secrets of heaven and earth" a deviant, monstrous description.

  • The creature itself (its original state of existence):

As Victor feeds his energy with the monstrous obsession of creating life, the natural result would be that the byproduct of such obsession is passed onto his creature. Instead, the monster (which in his monstrous state is "normal") is born with tender, human personality traits which also deviate it from ITS norm! Here we have the biggest of all ironies: a scary monster learning to speak, read, appreciating music, and slowly finding out his true, sad reality: that is the actual "monstrosity" of the creature.  This is the way in which the concept of monstrosity would apply to "it".

  • The creature's obsession:

Another angle to explore in terms of monstrosity is the obsession that the creature develops against Victor. It is fair enough that the creature is angry and wants to avenge its horrid reality, which Victor does cause by creating the monster. Yet, if we quantify the amount of damage done by either Victor or the creature, it is safe to say that the creature is by far much more violent, and almost evil in its want for revenge. This isolated trait deviates from its norm: the creature goes from essentially good to essentially evil in a very radical way.

  • As a theme

In all, you can use those three examples and expand on them as far as how they developed, the causes, and how those conflicts became resolved if that is the case. Also ask yourself, does the theme of monstrosity move the plot forward? Does it deviate from the central idea of man vs. nature? Does it strengthen it? How does the author use this theme to add to the Gothic aspect of the novel?  There are many things you can do to work with monstrosity as a theme and as a state of mind. It is ever-present in the novel and every character is directly affected by it.

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