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Nature vs Nurture in Frankenstein

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Daniela Sostaita

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of Nature vs Nurture in Frankenstein

Nature versus Nurture in Frankenstein What is
Nature versus Nurture? The nature versus nurture controversy is used to attempt to answer the question, what makes you you?

Nature (our genes) and nurture (our environment) affect our individual differences in behavior, mental processes, and personality. Together, they define what make distinguishes us from one another.

Many psychologists continue to study this phenomenon in order to find which, either nature or nurture, plays a larger role in creating who we are. Nature vs. Nurture in Frankenstein In the novel, Mary Shelley addresses the conflict of nature vs. nurture: are children the product of their natural genetic material or the environment they are brought up in? Victor Frankenstein creates a "child" whom he abandons upon his birth. Was the creature genetically inclined to be evil, or did his abandonment, isolation, and the hostility he encountered turn him evil? Nurture in Frankenstein The Educational Legacy of Romanticism Gather.com Article:
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Nature versus Nurture Works Cited Galton, Francis. English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture. London: Macmillan & Co., 1874. Print.

"Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Nature vs. Nurture." Gather. N.p., 28 July 2006. Web. 5 Feb. 2013. <www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474976770582>.

Myers, David G.. "Nature, Nurture, and Human Diversity." Psychology. 8th ed. New York: Worth Publishers, 2007. 95-96. Print.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus : with connections. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1999. Print.

Willinsky, John, and Aubrey Rosenberg. The Educational Legacy of Romanticism. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press for the Calgary Institute for the Humanities, 1990. Print. "Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence from without that affects him after his birth." -Sir Francis Galton The creature does not fight his assailants, proving his innocence, purity, and good intentions. This can be used to contrast with his actions, feelings, and intentions later in the novel; as his environment increasingly worsens, especially after his encounter with the De Laceys, the creature begins to change for the worst. “Some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country… Here then I retreated, and lay down happy to have found a shelter, however miserable, from the inclemency of the season, and still more the barbarity of man (93-94).” “Perhaps, if my first introduction to humanity had been made by a young soldier, burning for glory and slaughter, I should have been imbued with different sensations (117).” The creature acknowledges that his behavior and personality were directly affected by his environment. Growing and learning around people such as the cottagers caused the creature to develop into a kind, caring, and helpful being. In contrast, the creature expresses that if he had learned to behave and act around someone such as a soldier, he would not be the same. “There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery (124).” Upon the disappointing encounter with Felix, Agatha, and Safie, the creature no longer behaves the same. He is now hateful, a 180 degree turn from the trusting and helpful creature he once was. His environment and experiences have led him to alter his personality and perspective to suit the increasingly disappointing nature of his life. “In his origin, he is neither good nor evil, though he is capable of becoming either.” This popular principle in the nurture argument explains that people are not born with an innate desire to be neither good nor evil. Because the creature was capable of developing into either of the two, his environment ultimately determined his outcome. “It is Victor Frankenstein, insisting on his own creative power, who calls his creature a ‘monster’ – ‘the miserable monster whom I had created’.” Because of his abhorrence towards his creation, Victor verbally abuses and emotionally handicaps it at each encounter. At the moment of its birth, the creature feels the repugnance his creator feels towards him and witnesses as he is abandoned. The environment Victor places his creature in ultimately molds him into such a "monster." Once again, this source agrees that the creature’s genes (“ugliness”) did not affect others’ reactions, which in turn affected his behavior. On the other hand, the neglect he experienced affected his behavior. Because Victor did not properly nurture and teach his creature to function, the creature is not accepted by anyone, leading to his transformation into a vengeful, ruthless monster. “He was never accepted by humanity, not because of his ugliness, but because he was never taught how to be human… But instead he was excluded by his only parent, and therefore all he knew was exclusion from others.”
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