Frankenstein: Nature vs. Nurture
Was Frankenstein’s creature “born” a monster? Were his fun-filled murderous tendencies all inate? Or did he begin as a “blank slate,” but was never taught good manners by good ol’ Vic, like...y’know, not killing people. Shmoop it up and watch the video to learn more!
|Author||Shelley - Mary Shelley|
Compassion and Forgiveness
Fate and Free Will
Language and Communication
Lies and Deceit
Life, Consciousness, and Existence
You know, you've probably heard this being talked about
in contemporary society.
The question is - Are we born as a blank slate
and anything that we are as humans
comes from nurture, meaning comes from
the environment we're brought up in,
the way we're treated, et cetera?
Or are we born with certain innate qualities?
You know, I might be born as kind of a bubbly kid.
Or am I born blank slate
and because my mom is bubbly,
so am I? That's kind of the question.
Nature versus nurture is used a lot
in super controversial topics
like homosexuality, where there are people who argue
that people are not born as homosexuals,
- but instead it is, you know, nurture and it's learned. Exactly. - Learned.
So that's the nature versus nurture.
How is the nature versus nurture debate brought up in Frankenstein?
Is the monster innately bad...
or is he bad because his creator abandoned him?
Those are the two options.
Either he was just born a monster,
or created a monster,
or he was totally a blank slate,
could've turned out to be the sweet guy next door,
but then Victor abandoned him
and so he became evil and started killing everyone.
The Enlightenment is when this theory of the blank slate -
the fancy term for that is "tabula rasa" -
came about with John Locke.
And the idea would be that yes,
Frankenstein's monster could have turned into
a normal guy and could've led a totally fine life.
But he was abandoned by his creator
and so the nurture made him not be that way.
Today you look at a toddler, you look at a kid --
We now know that tabula rasa's not a thing.
It's definitely not -- No one's born a blank slate.
But we still don't know how much.
And the modern parlance is that there's a genetic predisposition
to doing something some way.
Exactly. You know, we know that nobody's born blank slate.
We also know that, you know,
nurture is an issue and nature --
But we still haven't figured out how much.
And this is something that Mary Shelley was thinking about
and John Locke in the Enlightenment was thinking about
like hundreds of years ago and we still haven't figured it out.
What is the nature versus nurture debate?
How is the nature versus nurture conflict
presented in Frankenstein?
[ baby laughs and cries ]