Is Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein" a celebration or criticism of romantic ideology?

Essay by chibi_teazerHigh School, 11th grade March 2004

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Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein is a critique of the romantic ideology from it's time. Even though there are elements of a celebration to be found within the text, ultimately the criticisms contained in the novel far outweigh the celebratory points thus sending the message across that the novel is a criticism. The text has many different defined themes that are seen constantly in the text, including human nature, social upheaval and corruption, which help to exemplify Shelley's evident criticism of the time she lived in. She uses intertextuality to help her criticism have meaning by linking it to past stories that are placed high on a pedestal in a deity form. She also shows her disapproval of her period's ideology through her "romantic hero" which shifts from Frankenstein to his monster in the course of the novel. All these items help prove to us, as the readers, that Frankenstein is a critique rather than a celebration of romantic ideology.

In Mary Shelley's novel, we see many negative aspects of human nature. In a period where individuality is supposed to be highly valued, that individuality is instantly shunned. The definitive individual in the novel is Frankenstein's creation. The creature is rejected almost instantly after he was woken up. As stated in "The Romantic Novel in England" by Robert Kiely (page 171) "The first thing that Frankenstein does after the creation of the monster is to reject him." Thus proving that we, as humans, will reject something on the basis of appearance. It is in our nature, we can't help it - it is how we live. Human nature makes us fear unconventionality and thus the creature is rejected by society on the basis of appearance. This is not the only example of human nature in the novel however. In...