Looking at the book Frankenstein and the theme of loneliness, discuss the effect loneliness has on the lives of the characters.
...specifically the similarties that exist between characters who suffer from loneliness, and what this emotion leads them to do or suffer?
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein contains the theme of loneliness, which can be found in three main characters.
Robert Walton, the speaker who opens the story, has dreams of finding as yet "undiscovered country" in the North Pole. He is obsessed with his desire to reach his goal, becoming more alienated from his crew, and therefore, more alone. Towards the end of the novel, when Walton meets Victor Frankenstein, the reader learns he has allowed his passion to cloud his judgment. He will not listen to the crew's advice, and continually places them all in more danger. (Victor's story—of his own obsessions and goals—allows him to connect with another person who can provide an objective opinion, and Walton realizes the near-tragic mistake he is about to make, and he calls the expedition off.)
Victor Frankenstein does not start out alone. There are two things that alienate him from the society of friends and loved ones. First, he starts his experiments, which are counter to all society and religion hold sacred. In order to continue, he must work in secret, refusing to go out, exchange letters with his family or visit his home. Like Walton, Victor will not be swayed from his purpose. When he ultimately creates the creature, he realizes what a horrific thing he has done.
The second thing that alienates Victor from society is his refusal to create a mate for the creature. At this point, the monster begins to kill everyone that Victor loves, even Elizabeth on their wedding night. Victor is so devastated that he devotes the remainder of his life to chasing after the creature for revenge. He is lonely in that his family is gone; he goes off into the wilds, ultimately of the North Pole, alone, to pursue the monster he has created. (At the end, Victor has literally destroyed himself with this new obsession, and he dies.)
The last character to suffer from loneliness is perhaps the most tragic. Whereas Victor and Walton choose the paths they find themselves following, which lead them to subsequent heartache (and for Victor, death), the creature suffers and the fault is not his own.
Victor reanimates the dead flesh of a being composed of the body parts from various "donors." He is hideous to look at, and frightens everyone who sees him. The only exception is the blind man he meets in the cottage in the woods, but when his family meets the creature, they reject him and flee in terror. This is the creature's life: no one—not even his creator, his father—will accept him, for the most part because of his appearance. (And for Victor, the creature is a reminder of his "crime" against man and God.) The creature never asked to be "born," and when he is, Victor abandons him and rejects him as well. The creature pleads for a mate so that they might disappear into the wilderness and at least keep each other company.
I find the creature's predicament the most difficult to accept in that he is a victim of Victor and a cruel society. When he cannot have a mate, the creature becomes murderous to show Victor what loneliness is truly like. He wants Victor to pursue him; like a child who is shunned, being hated by his father is better than being ignored by him. (At the end of the story, Victor dies, and the creature mourns his parent's loss. Having told Walton their story, he departs to lose himself in the frigid climate of the North Pole, where he will die, alone.)