i hope this topic will be ok for you. im a senior and i got an A on this essay
Romanticism vs. Rationalism in Frankenstein
Mary Shelley is known for adding romantic elements into her novels, but in her most famous novel Frankenstein she includes two literary genres; romanticism, Shelley's regular style, is included with a large chunk of rationalism. These two styles portray polar opposite ideas, which creates a sort of tension in the book.
Romanticism, beginning in the late 18th century was an artistic movement that originated in western Europe. It was part of a revolt against political and social norms. The romantics stressed the representation of nature and emotion in their novels. New emphasis was placed on intense emotions such as, trepidation, horror and the awe in the sublimity of nature. Shelley used romantic ideas in the novel in many different ways including, foreshadowing, being cleansed by nature, and gaining insight through ones feelings.
Rationalism or realism is a literary movement of the 19th century. After the romantic period authors were starting to again show real non- fantasized life and life's problems. Realists attempted to give a conclusive picture of modern life by presenting the entire picture. They did not try to give one view of life but instead attempted to show the different classes and manners of life. The Rationalist author knows that they must master their own destiny, using their powers of reason and the use of the scientific method to solve problems. In Frankenstein Mary Shelley shows realistic elements through the character of Robert Walton.
The tension between Victor Frankenstein and his creation is a depiction of the tension of the two writing styles in this novel. Frankenstein with his love for science and his issues with morality after the monster was created, is the realist character in this story. The monster on the other hand portrays romantic elements in his characteristics. The fact he lives off of and with the land is a hugely romantic idea. The monster discovering emotion and all aspects of life is another romantic idea. In his early life the monster is very in touch with how he is feeling. Also the fact that the monster is a monster is a romantic idea. It isn't really possible to create such a being, but with Shelley's romantic style this exaggerated creature is possible.
Throughout the story the problems between Victor and the monster can be related to their characteristic differences. For example in the story when the monster requests a mate its is his romantic characteristics that fuel this desire. He wants some one to share his feeling with and some one to love and love him back. Frankenstein on the other hand doesn't wish to create another being due to his realist ideas. He can clearly see the consequences of making another creature. The monsters could mate causing a whole new gruesome race, also he cannot trust that the monster will leave him be. Therefore Frankenstein thinking rationally denies the monster his wish and takes charge in determining his own fate, a very rationalist idea.
Although the tension created between these two characters is fueled by their different styles it is not as though Victor and the monster each fall completely into one own category (rationalism, romanticism). Each of these two characters does have some traits of the other. For instance Frankenstein the rationalist is depicted doing some romantic things in the book such as; when he travels to the mountains to clear his head after the deaths of William and Justine. It is a strong romantic idea that natures beauty is a cure for mental fatigue.
Now in the monster's case he is not solely a romantic. He acts as a realist towards the end of the novel when he becomes cynical and bitter toward the world. Being cynical and bitter is not what makes him a realist though it is that he goes through his problems of not fitting in and not being part of society. Through reason and an intellectual thought process, another realist concept, the monster creates hatred for mankind and his creator in his heart. He thinks about how he was brought into the world he views as evil, and he concludes that it is his destiny to get back at his creator, cause him pain, and show him what its like to have and be nothing.
Shelley found a way of including both romanticism and realism to not only make an original depiction but to create internal drama for Frankenstein and the Monster to feel the intense emotions of each genre. Both of the genres hold importance and can give the audience lessons and insights, romanticism is a look inside a persons head, taking one character in particular or one situation and giving a great deal of explanation based on their feelings and that which is not black and white. Realism is more of a look inside subjects as a whole such as science, family, or friends basically things that are standard .The tension in the novel does not lay in the structure or form of this piece but in the individual characters. Overall leaving the audience with insight to both, they could feel the emotion the Monster felt after society denied his acceptance yet also give a glance at the product that science is capable of.