Parental abandonment, encompassing both the lack of financial and emotional support as well as the failure to establish a relationship with their child, is when a parent chooses not to be involved in their child’s life. Regrettably, this leads children to experience uncertainty and doubt regarding their future.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein delves into the themes of child care and the repercussions of parental abandonment, demonstrating that deliberately neglecting children imposes a significant emotional weight on them that persists throughout their existence. Consequently, these individuals may endure enduring self-doubt, harbor resentment towards their parents, and struggle to place trust in others.
Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein delves into the consequences of the lack of nurturing and paternal affection on children. Through Victor Frankenstein, Shelley portrays how this idea unfolds as he endeavors to give life and inadvertently gives rise to a terrifying “child-like” monster. Victor’s drive to create the monster originates from his self-centered motives, eventually leaving it in a brutal and unforgiving world. In contrast, Victor had the advantage of a privileged upbringing.
Victor, who was born into a loving family and had many supportive people around him, was accustomed to receiving excessive attention, which helped him adapt easily. Unfortunately, Frankenstein’s mother passed away during his childhood. Among the characters in the story, she was the only one to have a peaceful death. As described by Shelley, “She died calmly, and her countenance expressed affection even in death” (33). Victor felt deep compassion for his mother and became enraged by her death, viewing it as an evil that he was determined to rectify.
When Frankenstein left for college, his life radically changed without his parents. Despite his good intentions, Frankenstein created a chaotic human being. Regrettably, the monster was extremely ugly and was brought into existence by a grieving student.
The monster’s first lesson was taught by Victor Frankenstein, who rejected him with fear whenever he sought love and comfort. Upon seeing the monster’s repulsive appearance, Frankenstein fled into the darkness of the night. Thus, the monster was immediately deprived of any opportunity for nurturing that could have potentially altered the course of the novel.
The monster had a strong desire for acceptance from human society after encountering unpleasant strangers. The cottagers became his hope for protection and kindness: “The more I saw of them, the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness; my heart yearned to be loved and known by these amiable creatures (Shelley, 133).” Victor and some other parents neglect their children from the start. Lack of nurturing during childhood affects a child’s personality: “These family disruptions are much more strongly related to feelings of fewer social supports and more negative moods and feelings (Science Blog). ” The monster, without guidance from his “father,” tried to find his place in society.
The monster’s act of saving the young girl demonstrates his inherent goodness and non-malicious nature, despite his mental difficulties. What he truly required was someone to reciprocate love towards him. Receiving unwavering support is vital for a child’s growth and development. Parents play a crucial role in shaping their children’s lives and should make an effort to be present whenever feasible. According to a recent survey conducted by nonpartisan organization Public Agenda, most parents believe that parental care is the most beneficial form of care for children. Additionally, they perceive many children today as lacking sufficient parental time, attention, and nurturing guidance.
Apples for Health states that isolated children never have the opportunity to experience a typical childhood and are constantly affected by their previous experiences.
By abandoning the monster, Frankenstein brings destruction upon both their lives, ultimately concluding the novel with a succession of catastrophic occurrences. In addition to the initial sorrow of being left behind, the act of parental desertion carries enduring repercussions that cannot be repaired. Such repercussions may manifest as feelings of sadness or anger. As children perceive themselves to be at fault for their parents’ departure, they may develop an excessively low sense of self and experience doubt regarding their own worthiness.
Children, like the monster, also experience confusion and uncertainty about their future. The monster goes to the extreme of being unable to confront his own reflection. He consistently ponders why he exists in this world, questioning: “I was ugly and enormous. What does this signify? Who was I? What was I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose?” These inquiries persistently resurface, but remain unresolved (Shelley, 129).”
Another potential consequence of the lack of guardians is that the child may develop a miserable personality, harboring grudges against their parents for life. They become consumed by anger and hatred, making it difficult for them to form close relationships: “Alienated children often display rudeness, ingratitude, spitefulness, and coldness towards the parent they are distant from, and they seem to be unaffected by feelings of guilt for their harsh treatment (Social Work Today).” The monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein can relate to this as he resents his creator for not providing him with a happy life.
After eliminating the monster’s likely friend, Frankenstein is faced with the consequences of his actions. Fueled by the betrayal of his potential love, the monster kills Elizabeth, thus ruining Victor’s opportunity for love. Mary Shelley highlights the detrimental effects of parental neglect on children through the characters of the monster and Victor Frankenstein. While the instances depicted in the book may be far-fetched, Shelley undoubtedly underscores the significance of having parents actively involved in their children’s lives.
Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with evading death ultimately leads to his neglect of his creation, transforming an innocent being into a hated monster. Devoid of love and acceptance, the creature is cursed with an unfortunate destiny. Despite his desperate attempts to assimilate into society, the constant mistreatment fuels his anger.
In the end, both Victor and the monster met a miserable fate due to Victor’s lack of knowledge and the monster’s intense anger. In the novel, Victor refers to his creation as “the demonical corpse to which I had so miserably given life” (Shelley, 50). Interestingly, the monster likely holds similar feelings towards Frankenstein.