From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, the concept of the noble savage was extremely popular. People believed that man was inherently good and any evil that he develops is a direct result of the corrupting force of civilization. In Frankenstein, Shelley illustrates this change through the story of the creature.
The underlying theme in the creature‘s story is a lack of understanding between him and other people. In his story, it is revealed that he was created knowing nothing. He did not understand emotions that normal people felt, nor did he know how to speak.
This is the source of his misery in that he is unable to communicate with other people or understand their reactions. When he is driven away by fearful villagers, he is left wondering why they would do such a thing. It would seem that he is condemned to a life alone, unwanted by society. However, he finds hope when he stumbles upon the dwelling of a family. The creature, through his observations of the family, learns to speak their language and to understand human emotions. He longs to present himself to the family and to be accepted by them.However, when he finally does, they act like every other human he has encountered and drive him away.
Through his reaction, it can be seen that this event changes his disposition towards humans. Before, he was a benevolent being, helping others and not wanting to do harm. This is shown when the creature says, “I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to assist their labors. ” Being driven away by people that he put so much trust in made him an altogether different person. The creature now is totally different from what he once was. He has gained knowledge of both himself and of people.While he once was an ignorant being, now he has learned that no matter where he travels, people will fear and hate him.
This is because people fear what they don’t understand. Even though the creature clearly wished the family no harm, they attacked him. The change that overcomes the creature sparks an intense hatred of all humans, and because of his experiences with people, he has decided to make war on their species. This change shows the concept of the noble savage. The creature was not angry until he had learned and been enthralled with the idea of joining a society.When the society he loved rejected him, his love turned to hate. This leads him to murder William and to seek revenge on his creator for giving him life and condemning him to live a miserable existence.
Throughout the story, Frankenstein’s creation changes from an ignorant, emotionless shell of a creature to a knowledgeable being. The monster now can think and act for himself, something that he learned. His story is that of a quest; a quest to gain self-knowledge about what he is and where he came from. In the end, the quest ended with him gaining much more self-knowledge than he set out in search of.