Comparing Franklin's Autobiography And Frankenstein: The Concept Of Self

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The concept of the self is, at first glance, an individual idea. It constitutes everything that makes up a person: his ideas, his identity and his very being. However, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein express the ways in which the self is not just a personal creation, but rather influenced and shaped by the one’s relationship to others. Each depiction shows the ways that character is fashioned by external forces. The self, an ever-changing aspect of one’s identity, is a collection of external perceptions that must be learned and practiced by each individual. Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography establishes that there is no “real you” that can be considered one’s permanent self. Similar to David Hume’s view…show more content…
As the play carries forward, both the creator (Frankenstein) and the creation (the monster) believe the answer to be nature and nurture, respectively. However, each side has a self-serving argument so as to offset the blame away from them. Early on in the play, Frankenstein tells of his childhood, saying, “No creature could have more tender parents than mine. My improvement and health were their constant care, especially as I remained for several years their only child.” Even Frankenstein – the monster’s “missing parent” – recognizes the importance of nurture. He acknowledges that his own parents were always looking after his wellbeing, yet he reciprocates none of that to the monster. With her novel, Shelley suggests that a “perfect” intellectual creature is for nothing without parental nurture. She acknowledges that since our identity is only a collection of viewpoints, we need guidance in establishing a positive sense of self. As the monster is a new creation that begins existence with a blank slate, his cruel education in the real world shapes everything about his character – gradually turning him into the monster that he

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