What are examples of both conformity and rebellion in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein can be used to illustrate the concepts of both conformity and rebellion. To begin, one must understand the concepts surrounding each.

Conformity is where one understands both the stated and unstated ideologies and beliefs of a group. The individual will agree with and match the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs held by the group as a whole.

Rebellion, on the other hand, is the opposite of conformity. An individual will act out against the whole (either because of disagreement with the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs or because of a desire to simply act rebelliously).

Based upon these definitions, both are apparent in the novel. In regards to conformity, one could state that Elizabeth exemplifies the concept of conformity. She, like many women of her era, failed to question the men in their lives. When Victor tells Elizabeth that she must marry him before he tells he his secret, she happily accepts it.

In regards to rebellion, Victor is the prime example of a rebellious character. Repeatedly renounced for his ideas, Victor pushes forward time and time again. Beginning with his father's dislike of Agrippa (a scientific author), Victor always goes against the knowledge of others. When Alphonse voices his dislike of Agrippa, Victor procures the entire collection of his works. When Krempe, a professor at Ingolstadt, tells Victor that the men he has studied are far to ancient to study, Victor fails to take his advice into consideration. He, essentially, rebels against those who possess the education to know better.

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