Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. In a world where we value the visual beauty of things so highly, it causes us to potentially lose the deeper and more substantial beauty the world has to offer. The story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, questions the true concept of beauty.
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It dares to ask the question, can one’s physical appearance halt the opportunity for relation to others? I say yes, each character’s physical attraction has much to do with the way they were treated, and how they perceived the world.
Beauty tends to play a major role in how the Monster’s world is perceived. All humans crave to be accepted. The Monster is no exception, but the minute the Creature comes alive, he is given his first taste of the beauty-bound world he was thrusted into. Victor’s first lines after witnessing his creation, Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room… (Shelley 35) show just how painful the world was for the Monster. The very first breath of life the Monster takes comes right before his creator runs off disgusted by what he made. The creature was born into a world where he had nothing. He has no relatives or friends, nor acceptance. Although, this is not the only instance we can see this.
When the Monster first sees the family in the cottage, he attempts to learn their language, hoping to be accepted. I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master of their language(80) He literally hopes to be able to Discover himself within the family. He hopes to learn more about the life that he could live, soley through their acceptance. But this acceptance would be much harder to achieve being that each time he’s made himself known to them, it’s led to him being ousted and attacked. Society’s set expectations of what we see as beautiful and physically attractive can sometimes be seen as wrong and more harmful than helpful.
Beings like the Monster tend to be set lower on our sense of humanity because of their first glance. Society tells us what is beautiful and we just compare the things we see based off that expectation. Participants construct and pursue beauty ideals by mirroring views of their national identity through conformity and identification.(Smith) It’s the environments around us that create the standard we have for what is beautiful in this world. The Monster, unfortunately, does not fit that description. Due to his lack of beauty, the Monster is forced to live a life with the assurance that he may never be accepted in the world. He will forever be an outcast and an abomination to those around him.
The Monster’s acceptance into the world and that of the Frankenstein family contains great dichotomy due to their appearances. In the case of Elizabeth, her beauty was a major reason for her assimilation into the Frankenstein family. a child fairer than pictured cherub”a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks and whose form and motions were lighter than the chamois of the hills. (Shelley 17) It is important to ask whether this same situation would have taken place if Elizabeth hadn’t been so fair and radiant? We can also see this in the story of Justine. Her story is quite similar. When her father passes, she is later brought into the Frankenstein family as was Victor’s mother. One characteristic that is shared among each of the Frankenstein women is how they each are described with some type of illustrious, undeniable beauty.
But what if they weren’t? What if they each did not fit the societal standard of beauty? Would they have been accepted into the family? Would they live the happy and successful lives they were able to for so long? Studies show that people who are physically attractive have an easier life than less attractive people (James) Without the beauty each of these women posses, it is hard to say whether or not they would live the luxurious lives they’ve been able to. Although the point can be made that their beauty played a part in how they were treated. In comparison to the Monster, his appearance only cause him more strife. It set him on a track to pain and failure, as opposed to the success and happiness the Frankenstein women were able to find.
It is only through their physical attraction that they were able to find happiness, and only through the Monster’s lack thereof, that he could never find the same. Although in society beauty is deemed purely physical, it is important to look at this perception, and examine its flaws openly. This perception causes one to lose focus of the important things in life. During Frankenstein’s creation of the monster, he becomes infatuated with the beauty of creating life. In his obsession with the unknown, he begins to deteriorate physically he loses I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit.(Shelley 33).
Even when he acknowledged his issue with his family And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I have not seen in a long time (33) and the loved ones around him, Frankenstein’s greed for the beauty of life affected his conscious. He turned into a beast in his own way. Allowing Justine to die for his creation and the same for his wife and Father. The ending to Frankenstein showed the truest dilemma from the beginning. The monster’s own physical lack of beauty was overshadowed by that of his mind and heart. The care he showed towards others, even when they rejected him completely, made of for his lack of physical beauty. The determination he showed to grow and develop his own mind and sense of consciousness.
He became more beautiful than Frankenstein could ever be. It is argued that beauty judgements should be understood as relative to persons and their contexts.(Hilhorst) Beauty should be looked at solely in terms of a person’s personality and the context in which it takes place. Although, One thing cannot be denied: the creature is exceedingly ugly (Gigante 565), the Monster should not be seen as such, deep down as well. The concept of beauty is one that has been debated in the minds of intellectuals and layman everywhere. But how much weight does it truly have in our world?
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein argues that beauty should not only be skin deep. It should go beyond the superficial expectations that society perpetuates, and into a more meaningful realm. Through her writings, Shelley is able to address the pains and struggles one may endure when not deemed the world’s expectation of Beauty. She throws her monster into an endless life of fear of himself and those around him. Thus showing the impact one’s beauty has on their relation to themselves and those around them.
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