Self-Education in Frankenstein
Formal Essay












Samah Syed
6341005













ENG1120 Section E
Dr. Melanie Sexton













April 3, 2014
University of Ottawa
Topic 4. Explore the theme of either justice or education in Frankenstein.
Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley explores different ideas and the portrays the theme of self-education and looks at how people develop a "soul" and a moral compass through the schooling they are given by their parents and how the pursuit of knowledge can mean the end of a person's happiness. Shelley draws parallels with her own education, and the education of other women from her time, and that of the Creature through ideas about self-education and the withholding of an education. Shelley also demonstrates how self-education also leads to solitude through the major characters and use self-education to feel more secure and attached.
Frankenstein is about the creation and the destruction of a man considered by society to be a "monster". In the novel there is profound meaning found in the monster's self-education. Patterned after the evolution of human learning, the monster's spontaneous learning proceeds through major stages. Firstly in the novel, is the accidental discovery of fire and then the realization of the monster that knowledge will yield to power.
            As with human history, the finding of the element fire is one of the first major steps in the creature's learning. In the beginning of Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, the scientist who applies what he has studied, conjoins different parts of corpses by surgical operation and produces a monster with horrible appearance; yet, he forsakes what he has made. Not knowing what to do, the creature wanders in the wildness and suffers from freezing temperature. The serious matter, which it is facing, is how to keep alive. Accidentally, he finds fire. In addition to it, the creature amazingly learns the way of keeping fire.
"One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. I examined the materials of the fire, and to my joy found it to be composed of wood. I quickly collected some branches; but they were wet, and would not burn. The wet wood, which I had placed near the heat dried, and it self became inflamed. I discovered the cause, and busied my in collecting a great quantity of wood, that I might dry it, and have a plentiful supply of fire" (Shelley, 71).
The significant meaning of this paragraph is that the creature learns how to survive by using fire to maintain its life. It echoes development of pre-historical civilization or Prometheus in Greek mythology. The element of fire symbolizes domination over the world more than the method of survival.
Through self-education, the monster was able to reveal his struggles after his abandonment. The monster states that he could not distinguish anything. Even though, the monster claims he does not know anything, the moon gave him a sense of pleasure which can be said that if he was truly created with a blank slate, how was it that the moon gave him pleasure just like how a new born baby may be afraid of the dark as the moon symbolizes a sense of security for the monster. Even though, the monster knows nothing, he is able to determine whether he is hunger or thirsty without being born with some knowledge. Although he could have learned these feelings from experience, the monster has no capacity to understand what is happening to him or what he is feeling. Therefore, he uses these experiences such as feeling hungry or thirsty to look for berries and drink water. The monster continues to learn and experience different things in the forest and it is portrayed that in the novel, he is capable of determining which things he prefers and which items he did not. After discovering certain feelings and emotions, the monster is ready to march to the next period of self-education, studying language.
            The monster's most convincingly human characteristic is of course his power of speech and his ability to comprehend human language. This is also a notable part of Frankenstein. He is stimulated by the power of language and wants