Nature and experiences, can be directed towards

Nature versus nurture: one of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology. This debate over human behavior is so influential that it has manifested itself in a number of literary works. Two views on this subject are driving forces in the way Mary Shelley writes the character of the Creature in her novel, Frankenstein. Genevan philosopher and writer, John Jacques Rousseau, believed in nature, that “people in their natural state are basically good. But this natural innocence, however, is corrupted by the evils of society” while English Enlightenment thinker, John Locke, believed in nurture, that the humans are born with minds like “white paper, void of any characters” and that experiences shape who we become. Both of these views, although seemingly contradictory, are equally influential in Mary Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein, specifically in the character development of the Creature. Throughout the novel, Mary Shelley writes in accordance with Locke’s views on human nature and In Chapter 1 Victor talks about when he was born: “I was their his parents’ plaything and their idol, and something better —their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery” (…).  In this passage, Shelley writes, in accordance with Locke’s ideas, that when people are born they are a blank slate that, through actions and experiences, can be directed towards happiness or misery. By suggesting that newborn babies are “innocent and helpless”, Shelley touches on the idea that humans are born with an empty mind, a “tabula rasa”. Later, when the Creature is recounting the first moments of his life to Victor, he says, “I was a poor, helpless, miserable wretch; I knew, and could distinguish, nothing; but feeling pain invade me on all sides, I sat down and wept” (..).  Shelley uses the word “helpless” again in this quote, connecting it to the earlier one and reiterating her belief in Locke’s philosophy that humans are born without drive or direction, as blank slates. The poor Creature, knowing nothing, is so overwhelmed by the cold that all he can do is sit down and weep, a clear indication that he lacks innate knowledge and does not know how to make himself comfortable again. The oblivious Creature ventures into a village and is promptly attacked and forced out. After this experience, the Creature describes how he felt to Victor: “I retreated and lay down happy to have found a shelter, however miserable, from the inclemency of the season, and still more from the barbarity of man” (…).  The experience of trying to interact with people transforms the previously unaware Creature and teaches him to be afraid. The Creature reveals the extent of his fear by saying he is happy to find shelter “however miserable” it is, just to escape from “the barbarity” mankind. The word “retreat” implies an enemy or attacking force, the villagers, causing withdrawal from a weaker force, the Creature, showing once again how naive the Creature truly is when brought to life. A very important idea to Rousseau was that of the student and the mentor, as seen throughout his book, Emile, in which he describes the way to successfully educate a child, with patience and support.  The Creature is rejected and abandoned by his creator, the one who is supposed to love him and show him the most patience and guidance. The Creature is described as a “noble savage” at first and is later labeled as a malevolent monster. The Creature has no mentor to guide his development and teach him how to act around others. In the beginning of his life, the Creature finds a family and enjoys watching them in their cottage through a chink in the window. He takes their food and firewood without initially knowing that he is hurting them. When he realizes the way his actions are affecting them, he quickly changes his ways: