In Frankenstein, what are examples that prove the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate?Any certain pieces of evidence that can be linked to the Nature/ Nurture debate in this novel?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I concur with the below answer; the Frankenstein monster was not evil at inception or by nature but was nurtured into evil by the people he interacted with.

Victor was excited about his creation; however, as the creature was taking shape, Victor noticed that his physical features were not appealing. Victor was not willing to give up on the creature since he had invested time and effort in the creation process.

When the monster comes to life, Victor is utterly petrified, and he abandons his creation. The monster had the opportunity to harm Victor as he slept, but instead, he only seeks an audience with his creator. The monster shows no signs of violence.

The monster had no knowledge of the world and how it operated, and with no one to teach him, he learned it all through experience. For instance, the monster learned that he could enjoy the warmth provided by fire, but touching the glowing embers resulted in painful burns.

The monster experienced the fear of men after they saw him for the first time. He witnessed an elderly shepherd run for dear life after he saw him. The experiences left the monster perplexed because he did not understand why other people were scared of him. The monster was chased away from a village he stumbled upon. The men attacked him, but he managed to escape.

The monster learned the trait of kindness from cottagers after he observed them reserve food for the elderly during the harsh period of winter when food was scarce. The experience compelled the monster to stop taking food from their store.

"This trait of kindness moved me sensibly. I had been accustomed, during the night, to steal a part of their store for my own consumption, but when I found that in doing this I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots . . . "

After the monster learned how to read, he managed to read the books that he carried around in the pouch. He discovered some strange knowledge about human beings and how they interacted with each other. He also learned about parents and how they took care of their children, which made him wonder about his own upbringing.

Although the monster was exposed to some positive human traits, the bulk of his experiences came from the worst of human nature. The experiences forced him to distance himself from human beings who seemed eager to harm him whenever they met.

"How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow creatures, who owe me nothing? They spurn and hate me."

lcassidy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The nature vs. nurture debate questions whether Frankenstein's monster was born evil, or if he learned to become evil because of his lack of "nurture".

I believe that the monster was born good and innocent.  After he was "born" and left to his own devices, the monster was found watching Victor sleep.  When Victor wakes, the monster smiles at him and reaches out his hand for him.  These are not the actions of a violent person.  The monster had the opportunity to kill or injure Victor as he slept, but he  only watched his creator lovingly.

In addition, when watching the Delacey family and realizing that taking their food was harming them, he stopped taking their food and began gathering fire wood to make their lives easier.  His first insticts were also to save the little girl who fell into the water, but to his surprise he was rewarded by being shot with a gun by the girl's father.  These are such instances which demonstrate that the monster's "nature" is quite good.

However, the creation, who was abandoned at "birth" was left to his own devices and was never nutured.  In order to be fully happy in life, everyone needs to be able to count on someone.  Unfortunately, the monster never had this opportunity.  He was abandoned by his own creator, beaten and chased away by villagers; he was never given the chance to fit in.  When he finally has the opportunity to be "loved", by the Delacey's, Felix beats him with a stick, Safie screams and runs away, then they leave the cottage forever.  The monster is then rewarded for saving a girl by being shot by her father.  It is at this point that the monster utters the words "If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear."

The "nurture" debate argues that the monster never had a chance in life.  If he became a monster who killed people, it is because he had no other choice.

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