Nature Vs. Nurture in Frankenstein

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The nature vs nurture debate has been going on for hundreds of years and it still is not solved. Initially, the philosopher, Plato believed that we are who we are because of get our characteristics from our parents through DNA. On the other side, Aristotle believed that we start off without any characteristics and intelligence. However, as we grow up, our characteristics develop based on our surroundings. Later on, Charles Darwin, the famous scientist known for his book the Origin of Species discussed about natural selection concept. This explains that throughout the years, “nature selects specific traits to allow an organism to survive”. He also states that apart from natural selection, each individual’s’ psychological traits determine who we are. This can be seen in identical twins; they are made up of the same DNA but however based on their likes and dislikes, each twin is different. Scientists started looking into a three factor approach called the biopsychosocial approach which includes biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors. Looking at all three factors will help explain similarities and differences between people. In conclusion, you cannot have one without the other. Nature and nurture, both help shape our identities.

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Thema nature vs nurture in Frankenstein is revealed on the example of the main character. This can be seen in the first four chapters in Frankenstein written by Shelly Mary. The main character, Victor Frankenstein, is a man who is driven by ambition and scientific curiosity. He was brought up in well off family and he describes his ancestors as “counsellors and syndics, and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation”. He had a very good relationship with his mother, siblings and his friends. As child, Victor desired and eager to learn, this is a characteristic that he had due to nature. Even though nature plays an important part in Victor’s life, nurture is what made him who he is. His interest in Natural Philosophy was developed by the various books he read, especially by Cornelius Agrippa. At the age of 17, he went to Ingolstadt to start university. His interests further developed in the creation of life due to his interactions with his professors M. Krempe and M. Waldman. This again shows that nurture plays an important part in one’s life.

Another example of where nurture is responsible for someone’s personality can be seen in, Victor’s best friend, Henry Clerval. He was born to a merchant in Geneva. Victor describes him as someone who loves reading “books of chivalry and romance” and would write “plays composed … composed by him out of these favourite books”. However, because of the environment he grew up in and the influences from his father, Henry was going to become his father’s business partner.

Lastly, Elizabeth Lavenza’s character is also influenced by nurture. She is Victor’s cousin who became a part of Victor’s family after her mother died. While growing up, she accompanied Caroline Beaufort, Victor’s mother, and assisted her around the house. Caroline loved her like her children and showed her the importance of family. Due to this, when Caroline died due to scarlet fever, Elizabeth took on the motherly role and made sure she kept the “spirit of cheerfulness” within the family. All of these characters show that the environment around them shaped who they became. Thus nurture having a greater impact than nature.

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