Locke's theory of tabula rasa underlies Shelley's development of Frankenstein's creature. He is a kind of blank slate upon which his experiences write his character.
According to Rousseau, an important 18th-century philosopher, humans are not quite blank slates but come into the world with two instincts: (1) self-preservation, and (2) compassion. Thus humans "naturally" have the potential to be good and would be so were it not for the corrupting influence of civilization.
Rousseau's Emile (1762) is another important text behind Frankenstein; it's a novel in which a tutor educates a young orphan, guiding him through a sort of "ideal" education according to "Nature." The ideal adult (and citizen of the State) thus emerges from a close association with a mentor.
In this view, education and the role of the educator is monumentally important; that innate tendency toward compassion needs to be nourished and developed. Thus it is important to think about what Frankenstein's creature learns and from whom he learns it. Think about what's being written on his slate: he goes from a "noble savage" to a malevolent monster only as a result of what is impressed upon him by human society. He is rejected and abandoned by his creator and thus has no educator to guide his development and shape his attitudes toward himself and others.
Conversely, Frankenstein's educators are misguided scientists who are indirectly responsible for his distorted perspective. In other words, not only is a guided education necessary, but it has to be the right kind of education, one that is tempered with benevolence, humility, and self-scrutiny.
Ironically, as Shelley elsewhere points out, Rousseau abandoned five of his children to a public welfare facility; he could philosophize beautifully about ethics, but he failed to apply those very principles to himself. In Frankenstein, then, one theme is that parents ought to devote themselves to their children and to their children's education. Her allusion to Rousseau is also an example of the ways she simultaneously invokes and critiques the other texts and attitudes that inform her novel (e.g., Paradise Lost, the Romantic [male] vision of the poet à la Percy Shelley, etc.)
Read the article HERE up to page 23 for information regarding how Mary Shelley's life and personal experiences impacted her writing.
Einstein came to regret his involvement in the development of the atom bomb and nuclear weaponry. Read HERE about the fear of technology and how one's inventions often take on a life of their own, apart from the noble intent of the creator.
Most unit docs here:
Sign up for notices:
TII Plagiarism ✅
Join code: 13520459
For electronic/paperless turn in of HW, Go to Google Classroom
Class Join Code: 4nuqxd2