Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus is a masterpiece of Mary Shelley. She writes it when she was only eighteen years old. The novel examines the themes of loneliness and social rejection as the author presents a notable character to Victor Frankenstein, the monster, and Robert Walton. The aim of this essay is to analyze the themes of loneliness and social rejection by symbols and other literary devices, which show the agony and loses as the three characters experience these feelings. Mary Shelley uses imagery, irony, and symbolism that set up the themes.
The themes of loneliness and social rejection are shown through imagery as the monster, Victor, and Robert experience how the society casts them. The monster horrendous appearance makes the society disgusts him that even his creator, which is Victor get terrified upon seeing him. This is seen when Victor describes his creation: “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but this luxuriance only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips” (Shelley 42). The monster’s strange physical appearance makes the society to be terrorized, mistreat and reject him. It becomes his main barrier as the people use to judge the outward appearance without looking at its inner surface.
As it happens, not only the creation experiences the rejection and loneliness but also his creator, Victor Frankenstein. He has this eagerness to learn science that resulted in creating the monster. It is his way of shaking off the loneliness and other negative feelings which is seen when he is creating the monster: “My cheeks had grown pale with study … and the moon gazed on my midnight labors while with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness … My limbs now tremble and my eyes swim with the remembrance … my eyeballs were starting from their sockets on attending to the details of my employment” (Shelley 39). As it shows the process of how he creates the monster, Victor’s knowledge of science and his hunger to create a human, give him the power that result in loss and death of his family because of his carelessness to his creation. Also, his obsession to scientific knowledge separates him from his social life, as he is the one who isolates himself from everything.
In addition, Robert Walton has also the desire for knowledge that makes him explore and reach the North Pole: “I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has traveled regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid” (Shelley 1). As Robert Walton chases his dreams and discovering new places, his knowledge and place leave him a gap between his shipmates as he thinks that his shipmates are too uneducated to share his dreams and feelings. In brief, the three male characters express and build the themes through their senses which give vivid and real imagination to the reader.
Moreover, Shelley also uses irony to show how the three male characters are seeking for companionship to build relationships, so that they can connect their feelings and thoughts. The monster does not choose to look horrible and get rejected. He feels unconnected and seeks companionship and understanding from human society and Victor which is seen:
I endeavored to crush these fears and to fortify myself for the trial which in a few months I resolved to undergo; and sometimes I allowed my thoughts, unchecked by reason, to ramble in the fields of Paradise, and dared to fancy amiable and lovely creatures sympathizing with my feelings and cheering my gloom; their angelic countenances breathed smiles of consolation. But it was all a dream; no Eve soothed my sorrows nor shared my thoughts; I was alone. (Shelley 111)
The monster feels alone and is looking for a living creature that will give the care and understanding, which his creator and community have not given to him.
On the other hand, Victor is struck with his emotions as he receives a letter from his father about his brother’s death, William. This is seen when Victor is on his way home: “My journey is melancholy. At first, I wished to hurry on, for I longed to console and sympathize with my loved and sorrowing friends; but when I drew near my native town, I slackened my progress. I could hardly sustain the multitude of feelings that crowded into my mind” (Shelley 58). Victor is questioning himself how his brother died, questions that have filled his mind which causes him to return home slow. It is so mysterious to him. The mistake of Victor being blinded in creating and not understanding the monster resulted in the loss of happiness, downfall, and destruction.