Family, Education, and Humanity in Frankenstein
The following quote comes the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley on page ninety-seven “ I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator; and to whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life?” (97).
This quote describes how the creature has learned that Victor is his father. The creature represent an embodiment of both Walton and Victor as he learns about education and family from observing human beings. Frankenstein explores the idea of family and education through a world that is discovering new technological advances. The reason that this quote was chosen was because it define the theme of the paper. The quote expresses both family and education from the creature's perspective. Walton, Victor and the creature would explore ways on how they learn, and showcase their feelings on family and education through different means. In this paper I will discuss how family and education in Frankenstein define humanity. In part one I will discuss how family defines humanity from the three narrators. In part two I will discuss education and how it defines humanity from the three narrators.
In Frankenstein being human is all about having a family as seen through the two main characters Victor Frankenstein and Walton. When we first began the novel we are read four different letters that Walton sent to his sister Margaret about his journeys. We can see how much Walton deeply cares about his sister as seen in the first letter: “I arrived here yesterday; and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare, and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking” (7). This tells us that Walton cares about the concern of his sister over his life, and that before he can do anything relating to his research. He needs to let her know that he has reach his destination. Margaret represents his main source of support as he relies on her guidance to help him throughout his journey. We can see this from his last words on his first letter to her: “Farewell, my dear, excellent Margaret. Heaven's hover down blessings on you, and save me that I may again and again testify my gratitude for all your love and kindness” (9). She is the only person that Walton writes to on his journey in a total of four letters, sharing everything that goes on his journey. Walton shows us by writing these four letters to his sister we can see how much she means to him Even though we only see Walton in these letters and never else again in the novel,we can say that family plays a big important aspect to him seeing as he had to write to his sister several times and to no one else.
Victor lives a completely different life from Walton as he is surrounded with a larger family. When we are introduced to Victor Frankenstein we are given a brief history of his parents. We learn that his parents became close due to an event that had happened in his mother's life due to the death of her father. The bond and the love between the two reflected into their love for their son Victor. Victor was the only child of his parents around this time. Victor is grateful for the love that he has with his parents as he express this in the following quote: “No creature could have more tender parents than mine” (19). Victor is their only child so it would make sense that they will give all their affections to him. But they did not just care for him they also gave him free time throughout his studies. Victor expresses how his parents allowed him and his siblings to use what they learn to explore other options: “Our studies were never forced; and by some means we always had an end placed in view, which excited us to ardour in the prosecution of them” (21). By allowing Victor and his siblings to do what they want parents let the children grow.
We know that Margaret is Walton's most important person in his letters but we also find out Victor has someone like that to him: Elizabeth. From the moment Victor stops telling his tale we know that Elizabeth is going to play a very important role to Victor. The two have a strong bond together extending back from childhood. As stated earlier around this time Victor was the only child of his family and by having another child his own age to play with allowed a connection to form. Victor begins telling us how this bond became to be: “From this time Elizabeth Lavenza became my playfellow, and, as we grew older, my friend. He continues talking about moments from when the two play together and her appearance as a child. There are a few instances that we can see when Victor develops feelings for Elizabeth considering her as someone special to him. The first instance of this when we first see Elizabeth joining Victor's family. Victor's mother makes a statement as shown in the following quote that Elizabeth should become his wife: “These indications, and a desire to bind as closely as possible the ties of domestic love, determined my mother to consider Elizabeth s my future wife; a design which she never found reason to repent” (20). This moment here shows us how Elizabeth is important to Victor's family, which in turn affected Victor as an individual. The second instance is when Victor is growing up with Elizabeth sees all the beauty in her. There are many times that he will describe her actions and appearance but there is one quote that truly establishes this: “While I admired her understanding and fancy, I loved to tend on her, as I should on a favorite animal; and I never saw so much grace both of person and mind united to so little pretension” (20). This one passage here defines when Victor starts falling in love with Elizabeth. She will not only be important to him but his family as well when they eventually go through an ordeal.
Elizabeth begins to show her maternal side when Victor's mother becomes ill and as a result is now their guidance. This happens when Victor's mother begins getting sick due to catching a fever from Elizabeth. His mother's own love for her children is what caused her death. As told earlier Elizabeth was determine by Victor's mother to be his wife. Even as she is dying she confirms to Elizabeth by accepting that she and Victor should be together: “My children,” she said, “my firmest hopes of future happiness were placed on the prospect of your union” (25). These events will truly play out as when he and his family will need Elizabeth the most during this time. We learn that she is the one who strives to make the family happy again through their time of grieving. This could be because of her own experiences in losing her own mother as an infant even though she never really knew her. Elizabeth knew that she had a role to play in keeping the family together as the future wife of Victor. As shown in the following quote: “She determined to fulfill her duties with the greatest exactness; and she felt that that most imperious duty, of rendering her uncle and cousins happy, had devolved upon her” (26). She became like Margret to everyone as they all depend on her to be strong after losing their mother.