‘People in their natural state are basically good. But this natural innocence, however, is corrupt by they evils of society.’ Quoted by the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, he created a theory about how he believed that when man is in the state of nature they are good and pure but when in civilisation become overwhelmed and begin to go mad. In the novel Frankenstein the author Merry Shelly demonstrates the ideas of Rousseau’s theory within the main characters, Victor Frankenstein and the creature. Both struggled in society and found an escape in nature.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that when man is in the state of nature that we are innocent, equal and free but it is when we are surrounded by civilisation man kind becomes frazzled, overwhelmed and begin to go mad. ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.’ Within this quote Rousseau is reinforcing his theory of nature being pure and society being poison. He is saying that ‘man is born free’, they are not born with greed nor want, they are a blank slat pure and untouched like nature. when man is surrounded by nature and all the natural elements of the earth we create a positive self love towards ourselves which creates an instinctive wish to b safe and sound, Rousseau called it ‘Amour de soi’. However in the second part of this quote he states that man are in chains everywhere he goes. When i think of chains the idea that i get is of prison, being trapped or controlled, and uncomfortable all connotations of chains. He uses chains as a metaphor to help describe what and how, society can effect a man and his mind set. With growing societies man become imprisoned behind bars, controlled by set rules and guide lines, creating a fake pride and comparing themselves to one another and finding pleaser in seeing others pain or weakness. When man is in a state of nature they are free and when in civilisation they quickly become overwhelmed and bowed in chains. One of the main characters in Merry Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein displays the ideas of Rousseau’s theory.
In the novel Frankenstein the main character Victor Frankenstein demonstrates Jean-Jacques Rousseau theory by looking to nature to find peace and to clear his mind from all the noise that society is making. Frankenstein becomes so overwhelmed with society and the death of his close friend Henry Clerval. His ‘…human frame could no longer support the agonies that I endured, and I was carried out of the room in strong convulsions.’. Frankenstein became so overwhelmed with civilisation that he not only couldn’t mentally handle it he physically couldn’t, having to be carried out of the room while having strong seizures. Society physically pushed him over the edge to his breaking point. Rousseau theory is signified within Frankenstein because when he becomes overwhelmed and near close to mad he looks to nature to find that peace and serenity that he is not receiving from civilisation. ‘…I suddenly left my home …bending my steps towards the near Alpine valleys, sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows.’. Frankenstein is describing nature by calling it as magnificent, having eternity scenes where he goes to forget about himself. He is describing it in a dream like way, giving nature a description that is to good to true. he is describing society as human sorrows, implying that it is depressing filled with unhappiness and regret. Frankenstein looks t nature nature when civilisation becomes to much. Merry shelly demonstrates Jean-Jacques Rousseau theory and also reflects it into her the creature that Victor Frankenstein created.
The creature that Victor Frankenstein creates reflex the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau theory also He was created as a good being with no hatred, just filled with pure curiosity and wonder about the world. ‘‘…gentle light stole over the heavens and gave me a sensation of pleasure. I started up and beheld a radiant form rise from among the trees.* [* The moon] I gazed with a kind of wonder.’. He found his first experience in nature mesmerising. The light that lit up the sky gave him the feeling of pleasure and fulfilment. The way that he describes nature in his first experience is the way a child would being in a candy shop for the first time, amazed and excited. He demonstrates Rousseau’s theory because while he is in the hands of nature he is untouched and unseen by society, he is at peace and is equal with his surroundings. It is when he entries civilisation and reveals himself to the world that he becomes a ‘monster’ and is feared. ‘I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.’. In this quote the creature is stating that he knows that he was good and used to do good things for others such as when he was with the Delacey family. He would do chorus for them to help out and finishing things off if they hadn’t during the night. However the misery made him a fend. Misery is how the creature is describing civilisation, he finds it painful to be in society, it makes him heart broken because all he wants and is asking for from Frankenstein is that he creates a companion so he is not alone and isolated. He wants to be loved and society showed him the opposite. Rousseau states in his theory ‘let us be more simple and less vain’ and to not judge a book by its cover, to read the book then judge for yourself whether you like it or not.
Merry Shelly uses her characters, Victor Frankenstein and The Creature to reflect the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theory about man being free in nature and imprisoned in society. Frankenstein become so overwhelmed with civilisation and retreated into the Alpine valleys to find who he is again. The creature was abused and hated by society when he went into nature he was free from the chains he didn’t have to hide or be afraid. ‘Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the maker of the world but degenerates once it gets into the hands of men.’