What It Means To Be Human In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Every time a tragedy such as a murder, terrorist attack, or bombing occurs, we as people are faced with challenging thoughts. These thoughts often begin with shock and questions as to how a human being could possibly commit such an atrocity and how such a person could possibly exist or even be human. As we ponder this, we stumble upon the question of what it truly means to be human—whether it is the values that we have, the fact that we were conceived, or the beating heart that we find inside our chests. Thoughts similar to these are constantly provoked when one reads Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where the concept of what it means to be human is an everlasting theme that is shown through the Wretch’s struggles with both his existence and his…show more content…
As the book progresses, Frankenstein distorts what it means to be human by distorting human biology through the Wretch’s creation. In fact, the Wretch’s existence itself completely warps our concept of biology, as his “birth” was a mere experiment of parthenogenesis— something thought to be impossible. Even Victor, the Wretch’s creator, admits how unnatural and inhuman the Wretch seems, saying that he is “a thing… [that] even Dante could not have conceived” (55). By stating this, Victor verifies that the Wretch distorts human biology through his ghastly appearance, something so horrific that not even Dante, a poet who wrote a series of poems about a journey through Hell, could have imagined. Through distorting the…show more content…
When creating the Wretch, Frankenstein realizes how inhuman he and his actions have become, as he finds himself covered in the blood of the deceased, thus distorting humanity. When Victor finds himself in “the dissecting room and the slaughterhouse” again, “often did.. [his] human nature turn with loathing from… [his] occupation,” however he still “brought… [his] work to a conclusion” (35). Thus distorting what it means to be human, as his actions warp our concept of humanity by completely disregarding the natural respect and aversion to the deceased. Through this distortion, Shelley makes readers question what makes one human, as Victor has a completely human body and conception but has committed incredibly unnatural tasks. While Victor distorts what it means to be human through the inhumanity of his actions, the Wretch distorts what it means to be human by having incredibly human thoughts even though he is trapped in a misshapen body. Notably, the Wretch is able to perceive what language is in master it, this communication is often considered as a major part of what it means to be human. At first, the Wretch recognizes language and the ability to communicate as a “godlike science” with which he “ardently desired to become

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