An Analysis of the Nature vs Nurture Debate through the Lens of Frankenstein

An Analysis of the Nature vs Nurture Debate through the Lens of Frankenstein

The nature vs nurture debate has been a hot topic of discussion for decades. People have long been curious about whether our genetics or our experiences play a bigger role in shaping who we are as individuals. This debate is especially evident in Mary Shelley’s novel, “Frankenstein,” where the main character, Victor Frankenstein, creates a living being. The question arises: is this “monster” a product of nature or nurture?

On one hand, the idea of creating a being from scratch seems to suggest that nurture plays a larger role in the monster’s development. Victor Frankenstein, or “the Modern Prometheus,” as he is sometimes called, takes great care and guidance in the monster’s upbringing. He believes that by giving the monster love, knowledge, and the best possible environment, he can counteract any negative genetic tendencies. This pro-nurture argument is further supported by the monster’s own statements, where he reflects on his experiences and dreams of being loved and treated kindly.

On the other hand, the novel also shows that nature has a powerful influence on the monster’s development. The monster’s abnormal appearance and extraordinary intelligence are traits directly linked to his genetic makeup. Even though he was initially born as a blank slate, his genes played a significant role in shaping who he ultimately became.

What makes this nature vs nurture debate so persuasive is that Shelley’s novel offers evidence for both sides. It stirs up questions about whether our abilities, behaviors, and even our personalities are more likely to be influenced by our genes or by our environment. The monster’s development provides a comparative study of the importance of genetic factors versus environmental influences, making this novel an ideal source for analyzing the nature vs nurture debate.

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Many argue that an individual’s genes and inherited traits are the main determinant of their development and personality, a belief commonly associated with the nature perspective. On the other hand, the nurture perspective posits that it is the individual’s environment and experiences that shape their behavior and identity.

However, the truth lies somewhere in between. A person’s genes and environment are not separate entities that act independently; rather, they interact and influence each other in a complex manner.

Take the case of Frankenstein as an example. Mary Shelley’s iconic novel explores the idea of creating life, showing that both nature and nurture play crucial roles. Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, the monster, is a combination of biological materials and artificial reanimation. The monster’s initial innocence suggests that its genetic makeup alone does not determine its moral character. Instead, its actions and experiences, shaped by its interactions with humans and society, greatly impact its development.

Furthermore, scientific studies have shown that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to an individual’s traits and behaviors. For instance, research in sociology and psychology has repeatedly found that children raised in orphanages or unstable family environments tend to have higher rates of developmental issues. This indicates that the quality of care and guidance received during early development can significantly influence an individual’s upbringing and potential.

It is important to note that the nature vs nurture debate should not be approached as an either-or scenario. Instead, a comprehensive understanding of human development requires acknowledging the interplay between genetic predispositions and environmental influences. By doing so, we can recognize that each person’s strengths and weaknesses are not predetermined but are shaped by a combination of their genetic background and their experiences.

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Supporting this perspective, numerous credible studies and articles have discussed the topic in-depth. TED talks, infographics, and videos exploring the nature vs nurture debate all demonstrate that a consensus has been established within the scientific community. The evidence points to the fact that both nature and nurture contribute significantly to an individual’s development.

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One of the most compelling arguments in favor of the environment’s impact on an individual lies in the case of orphanages and foster care. Studies have shown that children raised in abusive or neglectful environments often develop behavioral issues that can have long-lasting effects on their well-being. Furthermore, the article by Jack Hicks, “Nature vs Nurture: The Scientific Insights into Childhood Development,” asserts that the environment plays a pivotal role in a child’s intellectual and emotional growth.

On the other hand, genetic factors cannot be entirely dismissed in the debate. Scientific research has also shown that genes contribute to an individual’s predisposition towards certain traits or intelligence levels. However, it is important to note that genes alone do not determine the outcome. Rather, the interaction between genes and the environmental factors surrounding an individual is what shapes their development.

Exploring the Role of Nature and Nurture in Frankenstein’s Creation

Frankenstein’s creature is assembled using various materials, which brings into question the role of nature versus nurture in the creature’s makeup. While the creature is physically constructed with different body parts, its behavior and development seem to be influenced by both nature and nurture.

On one hand, the creature’s nature, referring to its innate characteristics and genetic predispositions, is established at the moment of its creation. The creature is brought to life as an extra being, devoid of the guidance and care of a nurturing parental figure. Thus, its nature is lacking the influence of parental guidance and societal norms, which can shape one’s behavior and beliefs.

On the other hand, the creature’s nurture, referring to the environmental factors and experiences that influence its development, cannot be disregarded. Throughout the novel, the creature strives to gain knowledge, understand humans, and find acceptance, suggesting that its behavior is not solely dictated by its nature but also shaped by its surroundings.

In many cases, humans are born with certain genetic predispositions but it is the nurture they receive that can either support or change their natural inclinations. This finding is supported by Kaufer in the article “Beyond Nature Versus Nurture,” where he discusses how the environment can modulate genetic expression and help individuals improve or change their behavior.

In the case of Frankenstein’s creation, the lack of parental guidance and care leaves the creature to navigate the world on its own, which leads to its alienation and violent behavior. Had it received proper nurture and guidance, the creature might have become a different being altogether.

Ultimately, the debate of nature versus nurture depends on your belief system. Some argue that nature plays the biggest role in shaping individuals, while others maintain that nurture is the key factor. However, based on the events and character development in Frankenstein, it becomes clear that both nature and nurture contribute to the transformation of a being’s behavior and identity.

The Importance of Comparative Studies

A particularly interesting aspect of the nature versus nurture debate is the comparative study of individuals raised in different environments or with different levels of care. This comparative analysis helps establish the impact of nurture on one’s development and behavior.

In the case of Frankenstein’s creature, it serves as an extraordinary example of the effects of limited nurture. Its negative experiences and lack of acceptance fuel its anger and aggression. By comparing the creature’s behavior with that of individuals who have received proper care and guidance, the argument for nurture’s significant role in shaping behavior and identity becomes even more persuasive.

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The nature versus nurture debate within the context of Frankenstein highlights the complex interplay between the two in shaping an individual’s behavior and identity. While nature provides certain genetic predispositions, nurture plays a crucial role in determining how those predispositions are expressed and whether extra care is given to improve or change behavior. By exploring this theme in Frankenstein, we can better understand the significance of both nature and nurture in the lives of individuals.

The Relevance of the Nature vs Nurture Debate in Modern Society

One argument in favor of the nature side is that genetic factors play a significant role in determining a person’s traits and behaviors. Studies have shown that certain traits, such as intelligence or personality type, have a strong genetic basis. For example, research on twins separated at birth has shown that they often have similar personalities and preferences despite growing up in different environments. This evidence supports the idea that genes have a substantial influence on who we are.

On the other hand, the nurture side of the debate argues that a person’s environment and experiences are the primary influences on their behavior. This perspective points to the importance of upbringing, education, and socialization in shaping individuals. For instance, studies on children growing up in orphanages or abusive environments have demonstrated the negative impact of a deprived or harmful environment on their development.

It is important to note that both nature and nurture contribute to a person’s development, and it is their interplay that shapes our behavior. No one is born as a blank slate, but rather, our genetic makeup interacts with our environment to produce a unique individual. The debate is not about whether one factor is more important than the other, but rather how they work together.

In modern society, the nature vs nurture debate has significant implications for various fields, including psychology, education, and criminal justice. Understanding the role of genetics and environmental factors can help in designing effective intervention programs, improving education systems, and promoting better mental health treatments.

For example, in the field of criminal justice, the debate surrounding the role of nature and nurture is particularly interesting. Serial killer Ted Bundy is often used as a case study to examine this debate. Some argue that his violent and criminal behavior was a result of his genetic predisposition, while others point to his troubled childhood and traumatic experiences as influencing factors. This case shows the complex interaction between nature and nurture in shaping an individual’s actions.


Can you explain the nature vs nurture debate?

The nature vs nurture debate is a long-standing controversy in psychology and philosophy that discusses whether human behavior is determined by genetics (nature) or by the environment and experiences (nurture).

How does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein relate to the nature vs nurture debate?

In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley explores the concept of nature vs nurture through the character of Victor Frankenstein. Victor’s monstrous creation raises questions about the influence of genetics and the environment on an individual’s development and behavior.

Do you think Victor is the true villain in Frankenstein?

Yes, Victor can be seen as the true villain in Frankenstein. His ambition, arrogance, and negligence in creating and then abandoning his creature lead to devastating consequences, making him responsible for the tragedies that unfold in the story.

What are some examples of Victor’s villainous actions in Frankenstein?

Some examples of Victor’s villainous actions include his obsession with creating life, his irresponsible treatment of the creature after its creation, and his refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions.

How does the character of Victor Frankenstein contribute to the nature vs nurture debate?

Victor Frankenstein’s character contributes to the nature vs nurture debate by highlighting the potential negative consequences of neglect and abandonment. Victor’s actions towards his creature, whom he rejects and fails to provide guidance and care for, demonstrate the potential harm that can result from a lack of nurturing and a supportive environment.

What is the nature vs nurture debate?

The nature vs nurture debate is a long-standing argument in psychology and philosophy about the relative importance of inherited characteristics (nature) versus the influence of environmental factors and upbringing (nurture) in determining individual development, behaviors, and traits.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.