Nature vs. Nurture

This is a theme in Frankenstein and a traditional physiological argument about whether or not heredity (nature) or environment (nurture) is more important in the development of living things.

John Locke, an English philosopher and physician, was studied by Mary Shelly and her parents. Locke’s theory of the development of the mind was influential in the Romantic period and in Mary Shelly’s novel. Locke was the first to define the self through a “continuity of consciousness.” He felt that the mind was a blank state or tabula rasa.” John Locke felt that we are born without innate ideas and that we gain knowledge by experience and perception. In other words, we are formed and molded by our experiences.

There are, however, many scientists who believe that we are born with certain qualities and aptitudes. These qualities are not learned, but inherent. There has been a long standing scientific debate as to whether nature (how we come) or nurture (how we are raised and what we are exposed to) is more influential in the development of the human mind.

What do you think that Mary Shelly thought about his debate? Is there evidence of her opinion in the novel Frankenstein?

What do you think?


Last modified: Wednesday, 28 November 2012, 10:49 AM