Never Let Me Go, Frankenstein and Humanity
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Currently in today’s society, there is the impending topic of what it means to be human. Throughout the course of literature there have been many great works that explore a topic that has been taboo for decades. Two works of literature really explore and enlighten readers of what humanity means to others would have to be Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Both of these books create a controversy and make the reader truly think about what is morally right to them about humanity. Several parallels can be discussed when comparing the two works but I would like to focus on the three main parallels that spoke out to me. These comparisons include how the clones and the monster are treated as social outcasts, the mimicking of society in order to function, and the manipulation of creation.
During the two novels, the monster and the clones can be viewed as very similar in retrospect. They become social outcasts, pushed away from society and were ultimately unaccepted by normal human beings. The monster is not welcome in the village and the novel states,”The village was roused; some fled, some attacked me…” (pg.74). The townsfolk treat the monster with fear and hostility whenever they are in close contact, which is similar to how the clones are treated by their teachers and the outside world. Tommy and Kathy confront Miss Emily and she tells them: “We’re all afraid of you. I myself had to fight back my dread of you almost every day I was at Hailsham”. The clones were able to interact more with the rest of society because their appearance did not hinder them as it did the monster. Even with appearance aside, both were feared and became social outcasts trying to fend for themselves. Both the monster and the clones were man-made, and then learned how to function in society through imitation. The clones were brought to Hailsham to learn how society functions, what they are forbidden to do such as smoke or drink, and to use the teachers, older students, and visitors as role models. Similarly, Frankenstein’s monster, soon after being created, was tossed out into the society to fend for himself.
He learned quickly how to feed himself, but to truly function as a “human” he had to observe the DeLacey family who lived in the cottage. He watched what they did inside the cottage in order to gain self-awareness and basic interactions. Both the clones and the monster solely mimic society because they were never meant to be a part of the world. The most obvious parallel between Ishiguro and Shelley’s works of literature is that they enlighten the readers about creation, science vs. religion, and our role in this world. In the novels, humans try to manipulate the miracle of creation in order to have a creature that is very close to what we, as human beings, are but cannot fully be human. The clones and the monster are simply creatures that have behaviors that resemble our own which causes us to question humanity and what it really means to be human.
I feel as if the parallel of the manipulation of creation really holds true to explain what it means to be human and inhuman. The clones and the monster were created for purposes that are not similar to what human beings are created for. The clones are created in order to prevent diseases such as cancer from killing human, and the monster is created in order to show that there is a possibility of returning life to the inanimate. Both the clones and the monster were ultimately created to help society, but this does not make them human. The example of the manipulation of creation helps a confused reader understand that the miracle of life cannot be done in a science laboratory, but must be done naturally as it has been done for centuries past. I feel as if the topic of what it means to be human will be one that will be discussed in generations to come and many people will look back upon Never Let Me Go and Frankenstein for clues as to what it means to society.