Student Question

What's an argumentative topic for the novels Never Let Me Go and Frankenstein?

Expert Answers

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There are many similarities between these two novels, so an argumentative essay could be based on one of several common themes. One central issue that both Mary Shelley and Kazuo Ishiguro take on is the alienation of modern society. Another theme about which an argument could be developed is ethical responsibility in science. At the broadest level, both authors are encouraging the reader to question what it means to be a human being.

Many of the characters in both novels are physically and/or emotionally alienated from their society. In Frankenstein, Walton, Victor, and the creature all have problems fitting in to their own society and try to find meaningful lives. In Never Let Me Go, not only the clones but also some of the Hailsham staff feel separate from the mainstream social environment. An argument about this theme could propose that the authors emphasize that the modern world impedes more than it supports feelings of belonging.

Victor clearly behaves irresponsibly both when he constructs and animates the creature and when he abandons him. In Never Let Me Go, both the originals who have been cloned and the scientists who conduct the procedures have sidestepped scientific ethics. An argument about the lack of ethics in both novels could address the idea of “playing God” or focus on the consequences when scientists do not take responsibility for their actions.

The topic of human identity is the most general; as such, it is most easily supported by evidence in both novels. Drawing on the experiences of the creature and the clones, one could argue in favor of nature or nurture as the main determinant in making an animate being truly human.

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