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Social Status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost: Comparative Essay

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Similarly to the society we live in, characters in a literary text belong to different social status, and their social status contributes to the development of characterization. For example, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein written in 1817 and John Milton’s Paradise Lost, an epic poem written in 1667 involves characters that are in a high social status, an outcast of the society and the ones that are protected by superior one. Social status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost is significant and contributes to characterization by developing the characters’ ambition, relationship with its creator, and gender roles.

Social status in a literary text is significant and contributes to characterization by developing the characters’ ambition. Frankenstein is a novel about a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who creates a human being which is referred as the monster, and whom becomes his lifetime enemy. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein has been raised in a wealthy family, and says he had the best childhood anyone could wish for. He has the lucky opportunity to read a lot of books and receive education since a young age. He goes to the university of Ingolstadt, which at that time and even today, is often a privilege that people in a high social status get. Being in this high social status created an ambition to create a human being. People who were in a lower social status will not have such an ambition because if you don’t receive education and know about science, you will not want to create a human being. In Paradise Lost, there is a strict hierarchy described. The God is the superior one, then his son, then the archangels and angels. On Earth, Adam and Eve are ranked higher than animals, and the devils are in the lowest class. Satan, the main devil in the story is a fallen angel, which means he used to be an angel before ordered to leave heaven. He also gathered other angels to revlt against god, so he was at realtively a high rank. Heaven itself is at the top, then Earth is beneath it and hell is at the bottom. Being in the lowest rank of the hierarchy, Satan has the ambition to become the most superior one. He also doesn’t understand why God’s son is ranked higher than him. He becomes ambitious and caused a war against God. Falling from a high rank to a low rank could cause a huge damage to him. On the other hand, the monster is a social outcast. A social outcast is usually not accepted by any social groups. He is not accepted by the society, which could be seen when he enters a village and the villagers ran away with fear and disgust and tries to kill him. This rejection of the society makes him hate all humans and to promise himself to do a revenge on them.

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Social status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost is significant and contributes to characterization by developing the characters’ relationship with its creator. The creator should be superior than its creation. Therefore, God had to be superior to Adam and Eve, and Frankenstein had to be superior to the monster. This creates a social status between the characters. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were protected by God and his angels. He was allowed to eat every fruit on the trees except for the Tree of Knowledge. In contrast, the monster was abandoned by Frankenstein as soon as he was created, and had to live on his own, unprotected. Furthermore, Adam and Eve, and the monster asks their creators why they were created. Especially the monster wishes very much that he wasn’t created so ugly and to suffer. In both Frankenstein and Paradise Lost, both Adam and Eve and the monster revolt against their creators. Adam and Eve breaks the promise with God and eats the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, and the monster takes revenge on Frankenstein by killing Frankenstein’s loved ones and messing his physical and mental health. In both literary texts, the relationship between the creator and the creation is not good. Adam and Eve gets sent away from the Garden of Eden, and the future of humanity was doomed because of them. On the other hand, in Frankenstein, the monster is not the one that gets punished. It is the creator, who dies as a result of his weakness caused by trying to stop the monster from causing more harm. Another difference between these two literary texts is that in Frankenstein, when the monster requests Victor to create a female monster, his request does not come true because Victor destroys the female monster in the process of making it. However, in Paradise Lost, God creates Eve for Adam, when requested. Therefore, the relationship between the creator and the creation was more positive in Paradise Lost, at the beginning of the story.

Social status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost is significant and contributes to characterization by developing the characters gender roles. In both Frankenstein and Paradise Lost, female characters have a lower social status. For example, in Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza is adopted by Victor’s family when Victor was still a child, and is introduced as Victor’s “present”. This develops her gentle, warm character, because she knows that she must respect Victor’s parents who have adopted her, and she unconsciously knew she was Victor’s “present”. While Victor goes to university to fill his desire of growing his knowledge, Elizabeth is told by Victor’s mother to take care of the other siblings after she dies. These conditions of taking care of the household and staying quiet behind men, makes Elizabeth a typical feminine character from the time it was published. In Paradise Lost, Eve is created after Adam. God takes one of Adam’s ribs and created her for Adam. God creates a male, before a female, and the same happens in Frankenstein (Although in Frankenstein, Victor makes a female monster and destroys it, so the monster does not have any company). This creates an order of superiority because the one that is created first is more superior than the next one. Why didn’t God or Victor create a woman first, instead of man?

Social status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost is significant and contributes to characterization by developing the characters’ ambition, relationship with its creator, and gender roles. Often times there is a trend that if a character is in a particular social status, they will have the particular characteristics. This social status is significant for the audience to learn about the characters. However, the pattern is not always true. For example, although Frankenstein is in a high social status, he is not bragging about his wealth or looking down at people in a lower social class, which is typically what a person with a high social status sometimes do. These characters who are unconventional, unexpected and does not follow the stereotypes makes them interesting and insightful.

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Social Status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost: Comparative Essay. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-status-in-frankenstein-and-paradise-lost-comparative-essay/
“Social Status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost: Comparative Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/social-status-in-frankenstein-and-paradise-lost-comparative-essay/
Social Status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost: Comparative Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-status-in-frankenstein-and-paradise-lost-comparative-essay/> [Accessed 2 Mar. 2024].
Social Status in Frankenstein and Paradise Lost: Comparative Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Mar 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/social-status-in-frankenstein-and-paradise-lost-comparative-essay/
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