Being Judged By Your Appearance During the Romantic Era, while on a summer getaway to Switzerland with her husband and friends, a British novelist by the name of Mary Shelley wrote the timeless classic Frankenstein. This era has produced many wonderful literary works not to mention the huge advancement in music and art as well. I believe that Shelley’s Frankenstein expressed what it was like during the Romantic Era more than any other literary work of its time because it shows many different circumstances that truly existed throughout the world in the early 1800s.
This book allows people of today to see what things were like in this period of history. Throughout the story the author is able to convey many different themes that pertain to the Romanic movement and in this essay we will examine one of these themes and how it influences the characters of Frankenstein. Physical appearance has always been an influential part of the modern ages. It affects the way in which we interact with and treat one another. Those people that are more “attractive” are considered more “popular” and get more attention from those they are surrounded by and associate with.
Even though for the most part there are many good effects for those who contain this characteristic, it can also do some damage as well. Especially during the Romantic movement where individualism was so important, we can see what an effect such an attribute had on society. As being one of the central themes in the story of Frankenstein you can see all the effects that beauty has, whether it be positive or whether it be negative. At the beginning of this chilling tale of Frankenstein there is a family introduced consisting of a father (Alphonse), a mother (Caroline), and their son Victor.
Because they were one of the most prominent families in the society in which they lived, they wished to bless the lives of those that were more in need than they. They would visit the houses of the poor and needy as often as time would allow and help them out according to their needs. One day while Victor and his mother were out making these visits they came upon the home of Elizabeth Lavenzna. In that household there was a poor merchant and his wife and five children. They were very malnourished but there was one child that stood out more than the rest to Victor’s mother. This child was Elizabeth. She appeared of a different stock. The four others were dark-eyed, hardy little vagrants; this child was thin, and very fair. Her hair was the brightest gold, and, despite the poverty of her clothing, seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless,… a being heaven sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features” (Shelley 30). Victor’s parents had always wanted a daughter and because of this desire they decided to take this little girl and make her one of their own and relieve her from the poor circumstances in which she was currently experiencing.
Because of Elizabeth’s beauty she was freed from the poverty-stricken ways of her caregivers and left the others to languish. Many times those who are left to suffer, do so, not because they are unattractive they simply just do not stand out from anyone else. It is truthfully one of the most unfavorable effects that many have to face in the world today. In many severe cases there are people that are not only unnoticed, they are also despised because of the abnormalities that they face in their appearance.
One such individual that had to experience this was the monster that was crated by Victor Frankenstein. Because of his harsh abnormalities applied to the body of this monster that was created by Mr. Frankenstein, he was not only loathed but everyone who set their eyes upon him were frightened by him. Upon giving life to such a revolting creature Victor said of the experience, “I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body…but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.
Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room” (Shelley 55). This experience caused a lack of sleep and a decline in his health because this task was so difficult. Victor then began to loathe the monster in which he created, not because he had finished his “project” but because he was not as pleasing to look at as he initially thought. This tragic story would have been nothing short of delightful, if this had been the only time the monster had to be faced with experiences that nvolved his abnormalities. Unfortunately he was faced with numerous other hardships throughout the course of his existence with those that he only wanted to befriend. While wandering through the woods, shortly after he was created, he walked into the hut of an elderly man, “and perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and quitting the hut…” (Shelley 104). During another instance, and possibly the most disastrous of any of his experiences was when the creature was rejected by the cottagers, by whom he cared for and loved the most.
He said of the experience: “Who can describe their horror and consternation on beholding me? Agatha fainted; and Safie, unable to attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage. Felix darted forward and…dashed me to the ground”(Shelley 134). The monster then goes on to experience many more experiences similar to the few that have been mentioned previously. Throughout this chilling tale of Frankenstein, we can see many differences between those of Victor’s family and that of the monster.
Frankenstein’s family sought after beauty as a result of that they welcomed Elizabeth into their home. Oddly enough, Victor creates a creature so ugly in his appearance that he is required to live in grief and loneliness. Fortunately for those of the Romantic Era, such was their choice, and as a result of the individualism encouraged and expressed, the world remains forever altered by those who choose to express it.