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Isolation in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley

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    Isolation is something that everybody experiences at some point in his or her life. There are many different types of alienation and there are many different things that can cause someone to be solitary or lonely. Some people choose to be alone simply because they like to reflect on thoughts and their lives, while some people end up alone even if they don’t want to be. Isolation affects individuals in many different ways and can have many different effects and outcomes on a person, such as depression and loneliness.

    This is shown in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” through the monster, Victor Frankenstein, and Robert Walton. Mary Shelley often uses the narrative style of writing to show the devastating effects of isolation, from society, on individuals. Throughout this novel Shelley shows us what alienation can do to a person. All of the outcomes that we see in “Frankenstein” are negative, whether it is on the individual themselves, or on loved ones. When Elizabeth writes to Victor, she tells him how she feels about him removing himself from his family, and also about what it is doing to him.

    Elizabeth writes: “and even the constant letters of dear kind a Henry are not sufficient to reassure me on your account” (Shelley, 53). This shows that even though there is somebody trying to reassure her that Victor is ok, she still feels like what he is doing is bad. When the monster tells his side of the story to Victor, we see the effects of what isolation has done to the monster. One thing that comes from the monsters alienation is his uncontrollable rage that leads to the death of more than one person in Victor’s family.

    The monster says: “my enemy is no invulnerable; this death will carry despair to him, and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him” (Shelley, 122). With this statement, we are able to know that the monster knows that what he is doing will hurt Victor, but he does it anyway because he wants Victor to know the same thing that he is dealing with. In the character of Robert Walton, we can see that companionship is very important to being happy.

    Walton says: “I have no friend, Margaret; when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection” (Shelley, 13). Right from the beginning, we can tell that he is not happy and that he wishes he could find a friend to have and share his adventures with. This sets the scene for us when Walton does finally find a companion in Victor. We are shown that he wants and needs a companion so that we can see how it affects him when he loses his friend.

    After Victor dies, Walton writes: “What can I say that will enable you to understand the depth of my sorrow? ” (Shelley, 182). Because of his only true friend’s death, Walton is thrown into deep sorrow over his loss, and through this, Shelley shows us the importance of companionship in one’s life. When Victor Frankenstein is isolated from friends, family, and society, he becomes severely depressed. Victor isolates himself while he is working on his creation, right after the creature comes to life he flees and after he visits his family and then leaves them.

    All these times, Victor falls into depression and tries to heal his wounds by alienating himself. We see this when he says: “For weeks I led a miserable life in the woods, endeavoring to sure the wound which I had received” (Shelley, 121). This shows us that isolation is not an effective way to heal wounds we may have, and also that running away from problems does not fix them, but only makes them worse. Victor chooses to be in isolation so that he can try and heal his wounds and fix his problems, but it only leads to his downfall.

    Even though Victor knows that what he does is not right, he still thinks it is necessary to do so. We see this when he says: “I must absent myself from all I love while thus employed. Once commenced, it would be quickly achieved, and I might be restored to my family in peace and happiness” (Shelley, 147). This shows that Victor even knows that he will not be happy while he is isolated, but he plans to return to the things that make him happy when he is finished with his work. In this novel, we see that community is an essential part to being happy in life.

    Community with other people is something that every human has, but sometimes people get rejected from society, or they choose to not be a part of society. In both cases, we see in Frankenstein, that they have negative outcomes and only make it harder for the individual to be happy. “All the creature wants is to be loved, but after many attempts to fit into society, it realizes that it will never be accepted by humans” (Brannstrom, 11). We see that monster that he has been rejected so many times from society to the point where he gives up on trying to be accepted and falls into a life of misery.

    This shows that us that when people want to be accepted, but they aren’t, they become depressed and miserable. Both Robert Walton and Victor Frankenstein choose to be isolated because they would rather try and quench their thirst for adventure and knowledge. Walton shows how passionate his lust for knowledge is when he says: “There is a love for the marvelous, a belief in the marvelous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore” (Shelley, 20).

    This lust is the main reason why Walton is alienated from society. Thus, making it the reason why he has no companion, making him unhappy in life. In Victor Frankenstein, we see an extremely powerful lust for knowledge, causing him to isolate himself and to fall into depression and misery. Victor wants to know as much as he can and constantly be learning. He chooses the knowledge he can obtain over his family and friends. He loses friends, he doesn’t see or talk to his loving family, and he is miserable. This shows us the reality of isolation and the effect it has on individuals.

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    Isolation in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from

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