What is the signifance of Victor Frankenstein's status as part of a family described "as one of the most distinguished in the republic"?Hi, I know that it is not uncommon for Gothic Literature to...

What is the signifance of Victor Frankenstein's status as part of a family described "as one of the most distinguished in the republic"?

Hi, I know that it is not uncommon for Gothic Literature to centre around aristocrats, though I'm not entirely sure of Shelley's motives for constructing Frankenstein as someone from a distinguished family. Surely her own background would see her fit into the upper echelons of society? Does this mean that his background serve as a reminder that Frankenstein had a very satisfactory life mapped out (on the basis that money and distinction was perceived to represent happiness)?

Asked on by davidmc

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

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I agree with your initial assessment that it is rare for Gothic literature to dwell on class statements and articulations of socio- economic reality.  This is not the primary focus of the genre.  Yet, if we examine Shelley's work as a modernist work that critically assesses the intellectual movements of Romanticism and Enlightenment, perhaps we can see why there is some significance of the inclusion of class in Victor's background.  Victor is born into wealth, considers to study at the finest institutions, and reflective of "the very best" that life has to offer.  In a time when such distinction was commonly associated with the very best in behaviorr, as well, it makes Victor's desire to "create life" and then abandon it brings about a statement about how the "very best" can be guilty of the "very worst."  I think that Shelley wishes to make a statement about how human cruelty can cut across class and socio- economic lines.  There does not seem to be a limitation as to how cruel human beings can be.

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