Frankenstein Challenging Extreme Romantic and Enlightenment Ideologies

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein like all texts is far from neutral, acting as a site to challenge and/or endorse certain ideologies. Published in the 19th century, it follows the journey of three characters amidst the influence and conflict of extreme Romantic and Enlightenment ideologies. Mary Shelley experienced much heartbreak, suicide and sorrow with the intense Romantic lifestyle she had chosen to adopt with Percy Shelley and it can be argued that Frankenstein is a critique of radicalism as revealed by her comment ‘I earnestly desire the good and enlightenment of my fellow creatures... but I am not for going to violent extremes, which duly bring injurious reaction…I have no wish to ally myself with Radicals - they are full of repulsion to…show more content…
In the case of Victor Frankenstein, although above it was discussed that emotion/desires may have inspired his pursuit, the actual pursuit itself was logical as revealed on page 53 ‘Some miracle might have produced it, yet the stages of discovery were distinct and probable’. Therefore the destruction ‘My cheek had grown pale with study and my person had become emaciated with confinement’ (Pg 55) was the direct result of a scientific Enlightenment endeavor. Frankenstein takes his pursuit to the extreme ‘the stars often disappeared in the light of morning whilst I was yet engaged in my laboratory’ and as such suffers direct physical consequences which only act to foreshadow the degrading moral consequences, death of family members, misery and lonliness to haunt him to his grave. Shelley challenges the Enlightenment ideology regarding man should pursue scientific knowledge when taken to its most extreme as it has terrible consequences on the individual.

Frankenstein acts as a site to also challenge the Enlightenment ideology that promotes logic, reason and rationality of mankind to such an extreme that it blocks the free play of emotions– turning man into a soulless thinking machine. The philosophes glorified human reason and believed it was

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