Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs And The Development Of The Monster

1667 words - 7 pages

Knowledge comes from experience. Since birth, Mary Shelley’s Monster from her acclaimed epistolary novel, Frankenstein, has been assaulted by all of the difficulties of life, yet he has faced them completely alone. The Tabula Rasa concept is completely applicable to him. The Monster begins as a child, learning from mimicking and watching others. He then educates himself by reading a few books which help shape his personality and give him an identity. Following Maslow’s hierarchy of needs the Monster searches for and accomplishes the basic human necessities but feels alone, and needs human interaction and companionship. “My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine,” (Shelley 115). As the book progresses, the Monster ceases to be a one-dimensional and flat watcher of humanity. Through his numerous experiences and education, the monster instead morphs into a participator of humanity with the ability to achieve goals, broaden his personality and create himself an identity.

The Monster, created by Victor Frankenstein out of carefully selected corpses, is a round, dynamic character. Born as a tabula rasa, the creature is accosted by all the natural elements of our ordinary physical world as an adult with no guidance. He experiences light and sight, cold and hunger and immediate rejection by his creator. His mind is intellectually capable of this awareness very quickly. In the beginning of Chapter 11, the Monster recounts the ‘oppressive light’, insatiable thirst and extreme tiredness which he experienced shortly after becoming alive. “I was a poor, helpless, miserable wretch; I knew, and could distinguish, nothing; but feeling pain invade me on all sides, I sat down and wept…. No distinct ideas occupied my mind; all was confused. I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rung in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me: the only object that I could distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed my eyes on that with pleasure,” (Shelley 119). After coming to terms with his senses and struggling with his emotions and confusion, the monster learns that he can slake his thirst with water from the brook and hunger with berries. He begins to understand the purpose of the moon and sun; night and day. This is how he carries on for a few days, just exploring his surroundings and perceiving that he is a separate entity from the world. This carries him to the next ladder of the hierarchy of needs and shows his ability for quick learning.

After providing for his simple immediate needs for survival, the monster has his first encounter with fire and both the benefits and dangers that it presents. He is overcome with joy once he feels its emanating warmth, but finds out that it is hot and will burn him. Through his observational skills the monster learns how the fire...

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