Essay on The Creature as Child in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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The Creature as a Child in Frankenstein

Imagine an eight-foot-tall, misshapen human child. You might complain that this is contradictory - but do it anyway. Imagine some sort of humanoid being with the mind of a human child in an eight-foot body, green with a nail in its head if you want. This is what Frankenstein's creature is. Frankenstein's creature is mentally a child, and we see its evolution through traditional child development in the course of its narrative. But the creature is the only member of its species, and therefore its narrative can be taken to represent the history of an entire species - the creature's first experiences can be viewed as an amalgam of creation myths.

If we choose to view the creature
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The creature is, in this respect, simultaneously child and adult, able to reminisce about "the good old days" while still being newly created.

Finally, the creature tells us about one of the seminal experiences in any child's life - the destruction of the ideal of the just world. The creature has a childish idealism in his belief that he will be accepted by the cottagers: "I persuaded myself that when they should become acquainted with my admiration of their virtues they would compassionate me and overlook my personal deformity" (Shelley 125). But the cottagers are instead deeply afraid of the creature when they finally behold it. It is at this moment that the creature progresses out of childhood and into what we might see as a protracted adolescence. This adolescence is characterized by an awareness of the unfairness of the world, which shows a cognitive development past the idealism of the child. The creature is not yet adult, however, because it displays a certain egotism characteristic of those not yet fully mature.

Our exploration of the creature's relationship with knowledge is expanded upon
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