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Intellect, Self-Awareness and Knowledge in Frankenstein

            In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley simultaneously spins both a gripping horror story and an intense line of philosophical questioning - specifically, what it means to be human. After the titular character imbues his gargantuan experiment with life, he is overcome with the repulsiveness of his creature and flees, rejecting it as a demon. However, in the years between his next meeting with his creator, the creature blossoms into a sentient being capable of many functions unique to humans. Though initially beast-like in concerning himself solely with his survival, the creature almost immediately develops human emotions, including compassion, envy, and anger. These emotions would contrast to the creature's expanding capacity for reason, locking the creature in a bout of inner turmoil exclusive to humanity. Ultimately, the creature would eventually manage to obtain an advanced level of self-reflection that he might feel the complexities of regret and sorrow. In all of this, the creature shows that despite his abnormal appearance, his recognition of emotional needs, capacity for reason, and ability to experience feelings of self-reflection truly make him a human being, becoming ever more so as these traits are expanded. .
             Shortly after being thrust into the realm of the living, the creature quickly develops the level of intelligence necessary for survival. Though initially dazed and confused by the alien sensations he experiences, the creatures manages to forage for food, clothe himself, and create a fire from loose coals. The creature's mental capabilities at this point are severely limited, comparable to those of an infant. Like a newborn, the creature concerns himself only in physical needs, dedicating entire days to mollifying his hunger pangs. Furthermore, the creature displays utter naiveté and a lack of self-awareness in his first encounter with another person. As the man whom the creature encounters flees in terror, the creature recounts that, "his appearance [was] different from any I had ever seen before, and his flight somewhat surprised me.

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