Archetypes in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Archetypes in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Virtually all literature contain instinctive trends in the human consciousness to represent certain themes or motifs, these are defined as archetypes.
Archetypes can be thought as blueprints or as bundles of psychic energy that influence the manner in which we understand and react to life. There are two different categories of archetypes; the plot archetype and the character archetype. The orphan, martyr, wanderer, warrior, magician, villain, wise child, temptress, rebel, underdog, fool, saint, virgin, wise, old man or woman are all considered to be character archetypes.Call to adventure, isolation, quest and monster that turns against its creator are all considered to be plot archetypes.
The novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, contains archetypes. The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley contains the archetype of ‘great/terrible’ parent. The ‘great/terrible’ parent is a character archetype used in many novels and literatures. The ‘great/terrible’ parent is defined as a parent in the novel with either great or terrible parenting traits. The great parent is a caring, compassionate, loving, nurturing character who can either be a father, mother or creator.The terrible parent is uncompassionate, unaffectionate, uncaring, and a loveless character that can also be a creator, mother, or father.
The monster created by Frankenstein is a victim of bad parenting because of the wrongdoing of the protagonist Victor Frankenstein. “I, the miserable and abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (Shelley, 204). Frankenstein is an example of a terrible parent because he creates a creature which he neglects to nurture and take care off. Instead he looks at it in disgust, mistreats it and abandons it as if it were an abortion.Justin the young girl that was adopted into the Frankenstein household while Victor had been growing up is another casualty of bad parenting, but in this case it was her mother Madame Moritz who is the offender.
“She sometimes begged Justine to forgive her unkindness but much often accused her of having caused the deaths of her brother and sister” (Shelly, 51). Madame Moritz is an example of a terrible parent because she disliked and did not care for her daughter Justine. Elizabeth’s Aunt Caroline Beaufort adopted Elizabeth and Justin into the Frankenstein family and is considered to be a great mother. My aunt conceived a great attachment for her, by which she was induced to give her an education superior to that which she had at first intended” (Shelley, 50). Caroline Beaufort the mother of Frankenstein is an example of a great mother because she adopted, loved, and educated Elizabeth and Justin, and sacrifices herself for her children. The character archetype ‘great/terrible’ parent is used in the novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, by various characters including Victor Frankenstein, Madame Moritz, and Caroline Beaufort.
The book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is comprised with the archetype of the ‘wanderer’. The ‘wanderer’ is another character archetype that is used in many different types of literatures including novels. The ‘wanderer’ can be easily characterized by somebody in the novel or literature that is seeking knowledge. The ‘wanderer’ typically carries traits of ambition, loneliness, and the need to explore the unknown.
Victor Frankenstein shows these traits throughout the novel which cause him to forget about family and friends. I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries” (Shelley, 33). Victor Frankenstein is an example of the ‘wanderer’ because he consistently sought knowledge and had excessive determination in creating a new life form. Robert Walton, the character who starts and finishes the novel with letters, is another person that is considered to be a ‘wanderer’. “What may not be expected in a country of eternal light” (Shelley, 1).
Walton is a ‘wanderer’ in Frankenstein because he seeks knowledge by pursuing into the very north to discover the unknown.The light is a symbol of this knowledge he is pursuing and the unknown he is discovering. The creation by Victor Frankenstein referred to as the monster in the novel can also be regarded as a ‘wanderer’. “I was unable to discover any clue by which I could unravel the mystery of their reference” (Shelley, 97). His efforts to incorporate himself into human life, learn human behaviour and study the human language make the monster an example of a ‘wanderer’. The ‘wanderer’ is an archetype that has been used in many literatures including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by a range of personas.
In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the ‘God’ archetype was used. This is a typical character archetype that is a utilized in many novels. The ‘God’ archetype can be described as someone in a novel that incorporates either creation/creator or destruction/destroyer characteristics. The story is build around this archetype and it is seen mainly in Victor Frankenstein.
“I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life: nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter” (Shelley, 37).Victor attempting to and finally creating new life (the monster) is an example of him as the ‘God’ archetype. Victor Frankenstein not only creates life but destroys it as well. “The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness” (Shelley, 151). Victor destroys the female monster he was creating for his earlier creation because he realizes that this may cause more harm.
Victor’s creation referred to as the monster is a destroyer thus giving him the ‘God’ archetype. I saw the lifeless form of Henry Clerval stretched before me. I gasped for breath and through myself on the body, I exclaimed, ‘Have my murderous machination deprived you also, my dearest Henry of life? ’” (Shelley, 161). In this quote Victor Frankenstein finds Henry Clerval lifeless and knows that the monster that he has created is guilty for the death off his best friend Henry Clerval. The ‘God’ archetype is used in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in both cases of creation and destruction. The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley consists of archetypes.
The ‘great/terrible’ parent, the ‘wander’, and ‘God’ are some of the archetypes used in the novel Frankenstein. Archetypes have emerged through people in their dreams. The bases for these archetypes can be traced back to the start of religion, mythologies, legends and the first fairy tales. The have been believed to be general patterns that come from the collective unconscious. “Most religious stories and mythologies have some sort of similar root, some sort of global archetypes” (Keenan).
Works Cited http://www. brainyquote. com/quotes/quotes/m/maynardjk238216. html