Isolation and Loneliness in Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

The feeling of loneliness is one of the worst inner states. It makes people weak and helpless. Everyone tries to spend most of his time in communication and movement. The novel Frankenstein reflects the characters who got used to living in loneliness during their whole life. Their life is constant resistance to isolation and fights with abandonment and loneliness. The novel Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley combines different elements from various periods of art development; it reflects features from the Romantic Movement and Gothic period.

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The author managed to illustrate the deepest feelings and emotions reflected in the main characters. It is important to stress that the basic theme of the novel is considered to be the illustration of loneliness and desolation following the main characters’ lives during the whole story. Mary Shelley wanted to highlight the atmosphere of complete isolation from society, the pain of loneliness living in the hearts of the main characters.

The author provides the reader with the complete description of every character and allows sympathizing with them to evaluate their behavior and actions. Mary Shelly describes the inner state of every character underlining all the details of their worrying and despair. It should be stressed that the main idea of the novel was to show the theme of loneliness and the problem of a real friendship observed in the text. Walton, Victor, and the Creature wanted to make a real friendship. Walton strived to make a friend from Victor’s body while Victor wanted to create a friend from dead parts.

“Begone!… There can be no community between you and me; we are enemies” (Shelly, 1995)

This shows the isolation of the Creature from society, his loneliness, and social misunderstanding. The author wanted to underline the fact that the Monster has never felt like belonging to anyone in the whole world.

Mary Shelly managed to show the gradation from loneliness to violence; the contradiction of these two feelings inside the main characters of the novel. She illustrated how relations between Victor and the Monster resulted in destruction and violence in their mutual interrelations. The Monster’s desire to destroy everything and bring only harm to society helped the doctor to understand his mistake of creation. His desire to avoid loneliness and make a real friend resulted in a huge mistake created by Victor. It should be noted that the novel reflects the feeling of isolation throughout the whole story. Thus at the very beginning, the author showed Robert Walton who had no one in the world; only letters from his sister helped him to resist the cruelty of the world, the painful feeling of loneliness and abandonment.

Robert Walton is a typical embodiment of a lonely person who has no one in the world, whose life runs in vain, and does not belong to anyone.

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I have no friend. Even when I am glowing with the enthusiasm

of success, there will be none to participate my joy;

if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor

to sustain to me dejection.” (Shelly, 1995)

The author illustrates that this character is not abundant by society and has a lot of people to communicate with, but his soul feels lonely. Walton realizes that he has no real friend and cannot share his troubles and happiness with anyone. He strives to see this only friend in Victor but failed… (Bennett, 2000)

Isolation is also demonstrated in the description of the Monster’s life and that of Victor. These two characters contradict each other. The Monster who was created to fight loneliness brings more troubles and misunderstandings. Victor created one more personality that was destroyed by loneliness. The author managed to stress the fact that very often people strive to belong to someone and depend on a real friend. Thus, Victor wanted to create a person for the real friendship but instead of this, he made the Monster who felt isolated as Victor did.

The analysis of the novel provides the idea that the story is completely associated with the author’s life. Three narrators who felt loneliness and lived in their small worlds are the embodiment of the writer’s heritage, personality, and future. The novel Frankenstein is based on the author’s vision of the society and interrelation between the people. She tried to depict all the life mistakes resulting in isolation, destruction, and loneliness. The author wanted to avoid such actions in her own life; she always wanted to save herself and her family from the state of being lonely whatever the cost and this novel is the reflection of her mind and fear of isolation and abandonment. (King, 1999)

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The novel Frankenstein is considered to be autobiographical by many critics. The theme of loneliness was the central one not only in the novel but in the life of the author. Mary Shelly contributed to her work all the efforts, feelings, and emotions; she managed to transfer her family life episodes and sufferings in the story underlining the pain of abandonment.

The character of the Monster is very often compared with the biblical first man Adam. It should be noted that the creature made by Victor reflected the same features as one can observe in Adam. The Monster was individual, unique, and alone. One can see a certain level of biblical parallelism between these two characters though there are some differences. Adam was not created to be alone, he was provided with a companion and was supported by God, his creator, and farther. Speaking about the novel Frankenstein, the Monster was to be lonely from the very beginning and the feeling of isolation followed him from the day he was created. Attitude towards Adam and the Monster is quite different.

Abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art.” (Shelly, 1995)

Victor shouted at his creature developing feelings of oddness and isolation. But the Monster was not responsible for his loneliness while Adam was punished for his actions and behavior. Victor never took any responsibility for his creature and the Monster felt that he had no place in the heart of his creator. In the case of Adam, God was completely aware of the responsibility he took for his creature; he wanted to make the embodiment of love and respect in the character to avoid selfishness and unfairness of the world.

The creation of the “monster” can be compared with the image of Eve who was aware of the consequences of her actions as well as Victor did. Knowledge of the dangerous events that resulted from the committed actions was underlined in the description of both characters, Eve and Victor. They were the creator of their fate and of those who surrounded them suffering the consequences. (Davidson, 2007)

The author illustrated the cruelty of the world in which her characters lived. She demonstrated that all the three narrators made the atmosphere of loneliness by themselves and only they were responsible for their isolation. The characters of Mary Shelly never gave love and care to each other; they lived in their morality but strived to get usual friendship and somebody’s attention and understanding. The theme of loneliness is closely associated with human moral values in society.

The author wanted to underline the fact that interrelations within any social group should be regarded as something important, as a kind of treasure. Mary Shelly managed to show how ignorance can influence our life and what it can lead to. Three different fates were interwoven by one common problem – the problem of being lonely and abandoned.

It is important to underline the fact that the novel Frankenstein sponged a lot of ideas from different biblical literature works and real acts of life; it can explain why the story is so involving and quite close to life. It allows examining the life of the author and feel her emotions reflected in the story. The narrators strive for happiness during the whole story and are eager to find this happiness in each other. But they only alienate each other by their attitude and moral make-up.

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Thus, as it was shown from the analysis of the novel Frankenstein written by Mary Shelly the central problem of her narrators’ lives was the problem of loneliness. Robert Walton, Victor, and the Monster were considered to be strong characters but having a weak inner state. All the three males wanted to reach the only thing in the world – they strived not to be lonely, isolated from the whole world. Mary Shelly drew a line between biblical images of Adam and Eve and her characters underlining vivid similarities between them. The author managed to show that moral values of the society should be concentrated on mutual respect and friendship; otherwise it can lead to violence and cruelty among people.


Bennett, Betty T. and Stuart Curran, eds. Marry Shelly in Her Times. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Davidson, Chris. Frankenstein’s Monster and Milton’s Satan. Frankenstein. 2007.

King, Linda. Mary Shelly’s Career Decision in Frankenstein. University of British Columbia. 1999.

Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. Norton Critical Edition. pp. 352. 1995.

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