Tabula notion is applied in Frankenstein; or, The

 

Tabula
Rasa (Blank State) is an empiric philosophical notion that John Locke used is a
      crucial factor for analyzing and
understanding Frankenstein; or, The
Modern Prometheus. Locke is a philosopher who had an idea known as Tabula
Rasa, which literally means blank state and Locke implies that individuals are
not conceived with innate ideas. Infants must learn from an instructor which
are mostly the parents of the infant so that he or she will fill that blank
state with knowledge. Locke stresses on the fact that experience is everything
in terms of education. Locke’s
concept of “tabula rasa” affected the development of Shelley’s character,
Frankenstein’s creature. It is understood that she was under the influence of
John Locke’s theory as she was reading Locke’s book Essay Concerning Human Understanding while Shelley was writing Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.

As
John Locke states in his book An Essay
Concerning Human Understanding that “Let
us suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters.” (78). This notion is applied in Frankenstein;
or, The Modern Prometheus and it influenced the cognitive development for
the creature in the novel. This idea is supported by the writing of Mary
Shelley and it is understood in the novel from the words of the creature such
as, “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I
shall again be virtuous.” (207). This
statement is made by the creature when he was trying to explain his murderous
actions. It is understood from this line that Mary Shelley’s depiction of the
creature had a blank state when he was first created by Victor Frankenstein,
but he became that way because he was rejected by his creator and society.
Another example of how did Tabula Rasa influenced this literary work is that, “It
is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original æra of my being:
all the events of that period appear confused and indistinct. A strange
multiplicity of senses seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt, at the
same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between
the operations of my various senses.” (213).  This line from the novel
reflects that what the creature thought when he was created and how blank,
empty state he was in.

Another
influential subject that Tabula Rasa influenced Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and Frankenstein’s creature
is that the idea in Locke’s Tabula Rasa that the infant should be educated by
her or his parents and when Victor Frankenstein created the Creature he
abandoned him, and this shaped the actions of the Creature. It can be explained
from these lines “But where were my friends and relations? No father had
watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; or
if they had, all my past life was now        a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished
nothing. From my earliest remembrance I had been as I then was in height and
proportion. I had never yet seen a being resembling me or who claimed any
intercourse with me.” (142). From these lines Shelley wanted to explain that
the Creature was pure from the beginning of his life but the absence of a
family, friends or at least a father figure shaped him the way he is now
because there was no one to teach or instruct him about life and morals so that
the Creature had to dive in to the world without no knowledge or no
instructions from his creator Victor Frankenstein. As Tabula Rasa suggests that
if Victor would not have been abandoned the Creature and instruct him the
Creature would have been a completely different character, so Mary Shelley used
this notion to stress the fact that the importance of parental guide.

Other
subject to analyze Tabula Rasa effect on Frankenstein;
or, The Modern Prometheus is society and environment because these concepts
is a part of John Locke’s Tabula Rasa notion. When we consider the Creature as
an infant whose have no idea about life and morals because there was no
parental figure that he should reflect the societal and environmental situation
of Frankenstein; or, The Modern
Prometheus setting, and it was not an ideal society or an environment that
the Creature live in and learn about life and morals. “I
admired virtue and good feelings and loved the gentle manners and amiable
qualities of my cottagers, but I was shut out from intercourse with them,
except through means which I obtained by stealth, when I was unseen and
unknown, and which rather increased than satisfied the desire I had of becoming
one among my fellows.” (142). This line from the book shows that the
Creature was ready to believe the goodness of people and society and perform
good deeds, he was declined and detested by the members of the society which
made him hide and disguise from people in society, but this made situation
worse and slowly turned him to an evil human being that he does not really want
to be. As Tabula rasa implies people are not driven to develop based on the
internal or biological force; they learn and develop through interacting with
the environment. Contact with situations in the environment creates a change in
person. The non-existent relationship with environment and society shaped the
Creature and it is understood that influence of environment and society about
Tabula Rasa influenced the way Mary Shelley wrote and depicted the setting of
the book.

To
concentrate my thoughts, the idea of Tabula Rasa had a big impact on literary
work Frankenstein; or, The Modern
Prometheus because the way Mary Shelley wrote this novel. In the novel it
is clearly seen that the Creature is like an infant with no opinions or
knowledge about the world he came in. He was all alone and there was no one
that could teach him what to do or how to do even his creator Victor
Frankenstein ran away from him. He could have been a completely different
person and character if his creator or even the society had not turn their
backs on him, but he was detested so this made him who he is and how he reacted
the situations he was in. He was basically a baby in a big body that wanted
sympathy, love, compassion and human interaction and a parental or societal
guidance which maybe would have made him to be a better person and a part of
society. Without John Locke’s Tabula Rasa this novel could have been completely
different and maybe it would not gain the attraction it had on the literary
world as a classic novel it is now.