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From Frankenstein, list three truths about human nature and find three events that...

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hanooch | Student, Undergraduate

Posted August 20, 2010 at 6:41 AM via web

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From Frankenstein, list three truths about human nature and find three events that relate to these truths.

I'm not quite sure what is meant here by "truths about human nature."

Could one of these "truths" be perhaps that humans nurse their loved ones when ill, like when Caroline Frankenstein nursed Elizabeth until she regained health?

If someone would help I'd be really grateful.  =)

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 20, 2010 at 6:54 PM (Answer #1)

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This is going to be a bit on the challenging side.  It's going to be a challenge because the idea of "human truths" is a rather silly idea, in my opinion.  I find it to be such because the experience of being "human" is so divergent and so varied that the only truths that I can come up with on it would be statements that are rather obvious and bland.  Teachers like these kinds of ideas, thought, because it proves literature to be relevant.  In this light, I think that the question/ prompt is asking you to find some type of human experience that is present in both life and the novel, something in the former that is brought out by the latter.  For example, the drive for perfection is ultimately futile.  This can be shown in Victor's faith in science and belief that he can "create" perfection in creating life.  When he does, he is horrified at the results and runs away from it, starting the narrative of destruction.  Another such "truth" would be that human freedom can be closely linked to human unhappiness.  Both Victor and the monster experience freedom in the world.  Rather than this being a happy and fulfilling experience, pain results for both in the form of isolation, anger, resentment, or vengeance.  This might be another "truth" that is revealed.  Essentially, I feel that you will have to find ways in which the story presented in the novel is something that applies to the world outside of it, as well, in what is called "the human experience."

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted August 20, 2010 at 11:11 AM (Answer #2)

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I think you are on the right track in the interpretation of the question, and your point would work as an illustration.

 For the other examples I would use the ‘truth’ that humans are immediately drawn and captivated by their children from birth and are conditioned to love and accept them as the first. As Victor does not create his creature by conventional means, so he has an unconventional reaction to its ‘birth’.

 The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.

 Another ‘truth’ would be that humans require companionship. We see that the creature becomes violent in its rage at the loneliness of its existence. Victor beginning to make a second creature then destroying it is the ultimate torture for his first creation. The monster knows as well as any human how closeness and contact is essential which is why it vows he will be with Victor ‘on his wedding night’ and kills his fiancée.

With the development of your own point now you should be on the right lines.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 21, 2010 at 5:07 AM (Answer #3)

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Another profound truth about humanity demonstrated in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is the selfishness of man that dominates his nature. The subtitle, A Modern Prometheus, even suggests this selfishness as Prometheus selfishly pursued his desire of bringing man fire even though he knew Zeus would not approve.  This universal selfishness, inherent in both gods and human nature alike, threads through the entire narrative as with all three major characters in this novel, their selfish motives take precedence over their rationality, their practicality, and their concern for even those they love.

Walton, for insistance, justifies in his letters to his sister his "love for the marvellous" in pursuing his goal of reaching the North Pole.  Likewise, Victor, selfishly justifies his not reporting the cause of the murder of his brother William and places blame solely upon the creature:

When I reflected on his [the creature's] crimes and malice, my hatred and revenge burst all bounds of moderation.  I would have made a pilgrimage to the highest peak of the Andes, could I, when there, have precipitated him to their base.  I wished to see him again, that i might wreak the utmost extent of abhorrence on his head, and avenge the deaths of William and Justine. (Chapter 9)

And, similarly, the creature places blame upon Victor in his murderous revenge against Victor:

have I not suffered enough that you seek to increase my misery?....Remember, that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed....Listen to me, Frankenstein.  You accuse me or murder; and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. (Chapter 10)

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