Victor Frankenstein's Mental Development

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Reaching Beyond Life’s Limits:
Victor Frankenstein’s Mental Development
Exploring the psychological development of humans often reveals the reasons behind certain actions, as they relate directly to events in said person’s life. One such study that displays the connections between someone's life events and their actions is psychologist Erik Erikson’s study of the stages of psychosocial development. Throughout his study, he references eight pivotal moments in one’s lifetime and describes how opposite experiences result in certain behaviors and responses. This, however, is relevant to more than just reality. In Mary Shelley’s horror story Frankenstein, the main character exhibits a negative passage through Erikson’s virtues of psychosocial
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In the case of the young doctor, Frankenstein is experiencing a time of productivity when creating his monster, giving him a sense of control over science. However, he is quickly humbled by the destructiveness of his creation, showing him that science is limited and cannot rival the capabilities of God and nature. To this, Frankenstein ends his journey on Erikson’s final stage of psychosocial development. In this closing chapter of this study, it is explained that towards the end of an individual’s life, they will experience either wisdom or despair. Unfortunately, it is apparent that Frankenstein faces despair, as he has realized his wrongdoing of attempting to break the limits of natural science. His earliest realization of his limits as a human are shown when he says, “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow”(47). The foreshadowing within this quote shows that when he attempts to overpower nature, the limits he faces and dangers imposed by his actions will ravage his existence. Yet another example of Frankenstein being humbled by his actions takes place when his friends Justine and Henry are indirectly killed by him. Because of his attempt …show more content…
However, I found it particularly interesting how psychological growth of Frankenstein himself was a supporter of this theme. All throughout the story, his actions stemmed from the death of his mother. When discovering and learning the far-fetched statement that scientists can control nature, his desperation made him take this to heart. Because of this, he discovered a purpose in life, being to create life again. Then, lost in this purpose and activity, Frankenstein loses himself and views his abilities as that of God’s. In Erikson’s study, he claims that some of the negative outcomes of the earlier stages directly result in actions of latter parts of life as well as even more negative outcomes. Again, however, his attempt to simulate what God did was solely because of his anger towards God “taking away” his mother. It is in this way that I find that through the development of Frankenstein and through his actions, it is seen that the limits of humanity do not change, despite any rash reaction to life’s events and attempts to change natural