Ideas of Philosophy, Religion and Psychology in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
One of the most prominent themes of Frankenstein is that of philosophy
and in as I will explain in particular the need for companionship.
There are indeed many passages that describe "domestic affection"; for
example, Victor's description of his childhood:
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. When I mingled with other families, I distinctly
discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude assisted
the development of filial love.
The next point is that as we find out toward the beginning of the book
in the letters to his sister that Captain Walton is ambitious and
knowledge-hungry, just like Victor Frankenstein; Walton "has been
inspired since early youth to satiate an ardent curiosity about the
unknown regions of the earth." Like Victor, Walton is lonely and
therefore unhappy. He feels his solitude to be "a most severe evil";
he longs for "intimate sympathy with a fellow mind.... A man could
boast of little happiness, who did not enjoy this blessing." When he
meets Victor, Walton finally tastes the pleasures of friendship.
Victor, however, warns Walton that his pursuit of knowledge will ruin
his life, as it has ruined Victor's:
You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope
that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting
you, as mine has been. I do not know that the relation of my disasters
will be useful to you; yet, when I reflect that you are pursuing the
same course, exposing yourself to the same dangers which have rendered
me what I am, I imagine that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale.
Frankensteinis a story within a story, within a story; it is the
monster's story within Frankenstein's story within Walton's story. All
three stories have the same theme: solitude is poisonous,
companionship is essential. "The sympathies of Walton and Frankenstein
have been rendered torpid by their monomaniacal pursuit of knowledge
which removes them increasingly from a compassionate society;
similarly, the creature discovers that his sympathies are perpetually
blunted by the misery of loneliness and isolation, estranged as he
must be from human kind." The Walton-Frankenstein theme is "knowledge
without society is worthless." The monster theme is "virtuous
inclinations, if they have no outlet in society, wither, and are
replaced by criminal inclinations." Whatever deficiencies Frankenstein
may have as a novel, it must be considered a most interesting example
of philosophy fictionalized.