A book in which a character’s childhood negatively effects their future is “Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is based around the life of Victor, who is overindulged as a child and who later creates a “monster”. He disowns the monster, who then goes on to kill several of Victor’s friends and family out of hate for Victor who left him. Victor then tries to create a friend for the monster so as to calm him, but rebels midway and then proceeds to chase the monster in attempt to put an end to him.
In this essay I will be looking at Victor Frankenstein and the monster, and considering what Mary Shelley may be trying to tell us about parenting, child development and education through experiences.
As a child, it could be said that Victor is spoilt by his parents, his adopted sister, Elizabeth, and his close friend, Henry Clerval.
In the first chapter of the novel, as Victor tell his story to Walton, a mariner, we find that Victor came from a very wealthy family from Geneva, and that he lived the first part of his life in Italy. His mother was the daughter of his father’s friend, making her substantially younger than him. We are told that she is incredibly loving and caring and that she “possessed a mind of an uncommon mould” and had nursed her father during his illness until his death. Frankenstein’s parents are very deeply in love, and Victor was an only child for the first five years of his life, doted on by them as we can see when he says “they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow on me”. Victor’s first memories from his childhood are his “mother‘s tender caresses” and his “father‘s smiles of benevolent pleasure”. They refer to him as being “bestowed on them by heaven”, they also see that Victor’s future “was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery”. Victor also tells Walton that his parents felt that they “owed” him something as they had given him life
At the age of seven, Victor and his family moved to Geneva, where he meets Henry Clerval who becomes his life-long friend, although it is interesting the he chooses not to mingle with the other local children. At the start of chapter two, Victor describes his childhood, Shelley writes
“No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed.”
But even although he was growing up in what may be seen as “the perfect family”, he tells Walton “My temper was sometimes violent and my passions vehement”, but Elizabeth seems to always have been there to soothe him and to comfort him to “A semblance of her own gentleness.”, and while Clerval is enthusiastically learning all he could about life, Victor is only interested in “the physical secrets of the world.”