Enlightenment Philosophy in Frankenstein Essay

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Egotism is characterized by an inflated appraisal of one’s intellect, ability, importance, and appearance. It is practiced by placing oneself at the center of his or her world. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, Shelley seeks to deliver her idea of the egotistic archetype as it relates to the ideals of The Enlightenment Period, a time period she sees as self-centered. Shelley sees the arrogance in the fact that Enlightenment philosophers test the limits of human understanding and attempt to simplify the ambiguities of nature. She asserts that man is egotistical to believe that he or she can completely dominate a comprehension of the human experience. In the novel, Victor Frankenstein embodies Enlightenment…show more content…
Victor had an obligation to care for his creation, but chooses at first glance of his construction to abscond from its presence. The comparison of Victor as God-like highlights Enlightenment philosophers who have gone beyond the limits of humanity in order to attain knowledge. Victor is characterized then as a savant manipulating nature. The Creature acts as a balance for philosophers to stop and reflect upon their own enterprise and determine the fine line between acceptable and unacceptable knowledge as it pertains to nature. To this end, Shelley enforces that humanity must pay due respect to the limits placed in front of them by avoiding the Enlightenment philosophy that man is to find a definite definition for every phenomenon he encounters.
Shelley’s novel faces the task of creating a notable message that her audience will appreciate. In order for Shelley to effectively signify that mankind must be able to demarcate the attainment of knowledge, she takes her novel to an extreme. Shelley writes, “Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world” (Shelley 40) in order to stress Victor’s extravagant notions. As Joseph Kestner, professor of Romantic and Victorian literature, puts it, Victor positions himself as the head of all hierarchies in denying God as the sole creator of man. The intention of the author for placing Victor at such a high position
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