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Themes in Frankenstein

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Frankenstein deals with two main social concerns, the level of moral responsibility that a creator possesses in relation to his creation, as well as the issue of the moral boundaries that exists in one’s quest for knowledge, including the fine line between good and bad knowledge,

The novel also deals with two main human concerns, which include a person’s goals or aspirations as well as the issue of pride and its affect on a person.

Mary Shelley highlights the issue of moral responsibility by the fact that Frankenstein neglects the issue at first, but then realises its importance. Frankenstein completely ignores his moral responsibility in relation to his work initially, blinded by his emotions, but once he realised that he had created a monster, a threat to the community that was murdering innocent lives, he begins to understand the fact that in being a creator, discoverer etc. a risk must be taken, but its up to the person to realise where the too great, by putting the wellbeing of society in front of one’s own desires. “Had I a right, for my own benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations?”

We see this with Frankenstein when he refuses to create the female for the monster, but more importantly, when he attempts to seek recompense by passing on his experience to Walton.

Moral boundaries like moral responsibility reflects society at the time, with the great explosion in scientific discoveries and open-ended investigations, because at that time, religion played a very minimal role, which resulted in the lack of boundaries or restrictions for discoverers or researchers, which Shelley questions through Frankenstein, as his lack of boundaries causes him to venture into an unexplored aspect of science and eventually play the role of god, which backfires and causes a mental breakdown. “In my education my father had taken the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed with no supernatural horrors.” This brings us to the issue of good and bad knowledge. Good knowledge is knowledge with the benefit of society, the sole driving force of the pursuit, and tempering the search of knowledge by the responsibility for society and foreseeing all the possible consequences of the knowledge. Bad knowledge in contrast, is knowledge that is single minded, driven by personal gain, and possesses very little constraints.


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