Notes on Frankenstein Themes

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Frankenstein Topic Tracking: Friendship


Friendship 1: Friendship is important throughout the novel because it is the goal of Walton, the narrator, as well as the monster Frankenstein created. Loneliness and isolation are major themes throughout Romantic literature, and in this novel they motivate the monster to turn to destruction. Walton longs for a friend to share his excitement over the voyage to the North Pole. He is separated from his sister, whom he may never see again, and he has no one to buoy his courage or steady his heady excitement. Friendless in the cold, white blankness of Archangel, and preparing to sail into the vast and unknown frozen arctic, seems a desolate situation for Walton.

Friendship 2: When Walton meets Frankenstein, he sees in him the potential for the kind of friendship that Walton desires. Frankenstein is intelligent, passionate, and sensitive despite the tragedy that surrounds him; the kind of friend Walton could talk to about his fears and aspirations. But Frankenstein is so weakened by exhaustion and misery that Walton doesn't want to disturb him.

Friendship 3: As Frankenstein grows stronger, Walton sees the potential for a meaningful friendship growing, but he doesn't understand that Frankenstein has lost a lifetime of friends due to their connection to him. Walton talks of sharing his enthusiasm with a friend, hoping Frankenstein will be that friend, but it is not meant to be. While Frankenstein agrees with Walton concerning the importance of friendship, he tells Walton that he has lost all the people in the world whom he cared about and wishes to form no other ties of affection.

Chapters 1-6

Friendship 4: Elizabeth and Frankenstein were the closest of friends, and it was their relationship that made them perfect because they balanced each other out. Henry was Frankenstein's only close friend outside the family because Frankenstein preferred to know a small group of people well rather than many people only slightly. With these two friends, Frankenstein was completely happy. Both Henry and Elizabeth seemed to be extensions of Frankenstein himself, and combined, they made a perfect whole. Frankenstein was the scientific and mechanical part, while Henry was the literary part; Elizabeth was the soothing, gentle, feminine influence that balanced out the literary and scientific passion. These friendships not only complemented each other's lives, but they were also an integral part of their lives, especially Frankenstein and Elizabeth.

Chapters 7-12

Friendship 5: Although Elizabeth and Frankenstein were so close to one another, even her presence didn't ease his agitation and depression. The power of his guilt and remorse was so strong that even the brighter part of himself, Elizabeth, was incapable of cheering Frankenstein or relieving his distress. It seems odd that a friend so close to him couldn't help him, but she wasn't informed of the burden he bore. Had she known what was disturbing Frankenstein, perhaps she could have found a way to help him. But he was alone in his misery, isolated by his own horrific error.

Friendship 6: The monster explained to Frankenstein that had no friends and was lonely and his quest in life was for companionship and understanding. It was his loneliness that made him savage. The monster wanted what Frankenstein and so many other humans had and took for granted -- a place to belong. He had seen a family who loved each other and realized what he was missing. He had no one to comfort him, support him, or love him, and he felt that absence strongly. Loneliness recurs as a theme throughout the monster's existence.

Friendship 7: The monster desired the friendship of the De Lacey family and went about seeking ways to gain it by doing small chores for them anonymously and educating himself so that they would see past his horrid face. He watched their family together and saw the way they loved each other. He hoped they had enough charity in their hearts for him because he was a singular creature with no home or family, a being alone in the world. He wasn't an emotionless beast indifferent to his solitary state. He was sensitive and very aware of the isolation he experienced, so he wanted to reach out to the De Lacey family to end his loneliness.

Chapters 13-18

Friendship 8: The monster, feeling quite alone in the world because he realized that he was the only monster like himself in existence, longed even more for the friendship of the De Lacey family. He began to plan a way to win them over because failure would break his heart. He knew the family to be kind, gentle, and accepting, so he expected that he could win them over and end the wretched loneliness that had been forced upon him by his creator. Frankenstein was the reason the monster was lonely because he had created him as the only one of his kind and then abandoned him. The De Lacey family was the monster's chance for love.

Friendship 9: The De Lacey family was too afraid of him to befriend him, so the monster was rejected by a family he had come to care for. Frankenstein was responsible for his state of isolation, and the monster planned to make him pay for his insensitivity. He was angry and vengeful, so he sought out Frankenstein.

Friendship 10: The monster planned to kidnap William and keep him as a companion because he believed that the fears and cruelty of the rest of humanity had not yet prejudiced a child so young. When he learned that William was Frankenstein's brother, however, the prospect of revenge seemed better than keeping the boy as a companion. His desire for revenge took greater precedence over his desire for companionship. The anger and vengeance he exhibited in killing William were a result of the loneliness and rejection the monster had been subject to throughout his life.

Friendship 11: The monster demanded that Frankenstein construct a female companion for him so that he wouldn't be miserable and friendless anymore. Frankenstein didn't want to leave the monster lonely, but over time decided that he couldn't create the monster. Frankenstein willingly condemned the monster to a life of loneliness and isolation with his refusal to create a companion. But the monster didn't wallow in his loneliness because revenge became his focus. Because the monster could never be happy, he vowed to make Frankenstein miserable as well. Their battle caused the destruction of Frankenstein's family and friends before it eventually killed him, too.

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