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Frankenstein Analytical Essay: how Frankenstein embodies Romanticism?


ggreif 2 / 5  
Jan 19, 2012   #1
You don't need to have read Frankenstein for this essay; I'm just looking for feedback on whether I get my point across and I fully address the prompt. Thanks! :)

Prompt: It can easily be argued the Frankenstein is a "classic" Romantic novel. Explain how Frankenstein embodies Romanticism.

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, contains and embodies many signature Romantic tropes. Though Shelley may incorporate gothic elements into her story, the heart of the novel is one of true and sincere Romanticism. Almost all Romantic ideals are presented in the novel, and imbedded in the narrative so thoroughly that Frankenstein cannot be said to be anything but a member of the Romantic genre. Among these Romantic principles are the use of nature as a beautiful and powerful force, the Romantic ideal of creating "something" from nothing, and the Romantic reverence for the hallowed cycle of life and death.

One of the themes most associated with Romantic works is the power and beauty of nature. When Frankenstein's monster, lonely and abandoned, takes to the forest in an attempt to track down his creator, he finds consolation only in the beauty of the first of spring, claiming that he "felt emotions of gentleness and pleasure that had long appeared dead, revive within [him]" (p. 148).This Romantic idea of nature's benevolence and spiritual healing abilities is juxtaposed by another idea synonymous with Romantics: the pure power of the natural world. As a child, Victor Frankenstein is astounded by the way that lightning eviscerates a large oak tree, stating that he had never "beheld anything so completely and utterly destroyed" (p. 32). The destruction not only indicates the power of nature, but also foreshadows Frankenstein's creation of the monster later in the novel.

Among the ideals most valued and sought after in the Romantic community was the idea of true inspiration, stemming from one's own imagination and brilliance. This is why the Romantics were among the first to speak out against copying the works of others, claiming that the most beautiful art is that which was "created from nothing". In this sense, Victor Frankenstein was a true Romantic; his goal of "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter" (p. 48) is the epitome of creation from nothingness. In addition to this, his desire to do as no others have done before, breaking new ground with lofty and seemingly unachievable goals, was one thing Romantics took pride in. The success of Victor Frankenstein's creation reflects Mary Shelley's belief that, with sufficient determination, even the seemingly impossible can be achieved.

This idea of Victor Frankenstein as a Romantic may lead one to ask the question, "Why, then, did things turn out so poorly for the Romantic idealist in this Romantic novel?" And the answer is this: Frankenstein broke a cardinal rule of Romanticism; he attempted to disturb the sacred cycle of life and death. He created the monster in an attempt to one day "Renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption." (p. 48), however, in the eyes of a devout Romantic, this would be an abomination and affront to God in accordance with Romantic reverence for all things natural, including death. Because of this disrespect for Romantic beliefs, Victor Frankenstein was forced to pay the ultimate price.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein can, and should, be considered a true Romantic novel. Though some of the plot and setting may have been borrowed from Gothic literature, the morals and principles of the book find their home with Romanticism. From inherent respect of all things natural, to the supremacy of human creation and imagination, Frankenstein embodies the Romantic spirit almost flawlessly.

Thors Hammer 5 / 60  
Jan 20, 2012   #2
Very fluid and enjoyable to read. I'm not sure your comma is needed for your expression in the second to last paragraph.
OP ggreif 2 / 5  
Jan 20, 2012   #3
Yeah, I wasn't too sure about that comment either haha.
Thanks for the feedback :D


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