Evil vs. Nurture

Even though Frankenstein lived a miserable, agonizing life after his decision to create another being, I could not help but be frustrated with his character. He created a new life, and then completely abandoned him simply because of his appearance. The creation was left to fend for itself and find its place in the world with no guidance or care from a single person. What Frankenstein did was quite similar to abandoning a child. Children who grow up in the foster care system are statistically more likely to commit crimes than those who were raised by their own parents. This is speculated to have a lot to do with rebellion after feelings of abandonment and isolation. The monster had a “desire to claim their protection and kindness” and “yearned to be known and loved”. After constant rejection and heartbreak, he gained feelings of “rage and revenge”.

The monster’s transformation got me thinking about whether nature or nurture leads people to crime. The article “Evil: Nature or Nurture” reports on a case study of a man who is in jail for two murders. A lot of the man’s commentary is viscous and cold, but his description of his childhood offers insight into why he is so cold-hearted. The man describes being lonely and misunderstood as a child, and continues to say, “Something just never felt quite right to me — this internal pain — and I always felt that no one else feels my pain. But I can give you a small taste of it … a small taste. If I hurt you … that pain you feel … can’t compare to mine. And I am not alone anymore.” The criminal’s explanation reminds me of Frankenstein’s monster’s build up of bitterness that evolved into an evil quest for vengeance. Frankenstein eventually came to the conclusion that he should have cared for the beast he created, revealing that “In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature, and was bound towards him, to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and wellbeing.” All creators are bounded towards their creations and have a duty to nurture them. I believe people are born good. When they are abandoned and come to know pain as the overriding emotion in their lives, evil develops. Mary Shelley provides an underlying message of the importance that creatures are nurtured by their creators. Both in the situation of the criminal in the article and in Frankenstein’s case, evil developed as a response to exposure to tremendous pain and isolation.

“Evil: Nature or Nurture” can be found at http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3359185&page=1

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